WHS Renovation Decision: Are You Ready?
Do you have enough information to make an informed decision about the December 10 debt exclusion override ballot question regarding Winchester High School?
Since June, we, the members of the Educational Facilities Planning and Building Committee (EFPBC), along with the Communications Working Group, have provided media articles, a robust website, and a variety of other resources to inform residents about this historic project.
The project is designed to address three critical needs for our community: an increasing enrollment; an obsolete building infrastructure; and an educational program whose needs are no longer supported by the current physical layout. The comprehensive rebuilding of WHS would address all three goals, at a cost that takes advantage of state financial aid now available.
If voters approve Winchester’s share of funding in next month’s election, the project would be completed by fall 2017 with $85.4M from Winchester and $44.5M from the state (MSBA), a project valued at $129.9M.
If the override is not approved and Winchester does not have a comprehensive solution for WHS, the Town must still address pressing and expensive repairs to the facility.
Be an Informed Voter
The WHS Project Communications Working Group, consisting of representatives of the EFPBC, School Committee, Board of Selectmen and the Superintendent of Schools and Town Manager have been engaged in providing information to prepare citizens to vote on December 10. It is not too late to learn about the project:
• Visit Winchesterhsproject.com, which provides detailed information about the project and the almost three years of analysis behind the proposed plan and design. Explore frequently asked questions, calculate the potential impact to your taxes, and read source materials filed with the MSBA.
• E-mail a question to firstname.lastname@example.org. To receive e-mail updates, send an e-mail with “contact list” in the subject line to the same address.
• See the current WHS facility first hand! Sign up for the last tour on Saturday, December 7 at 9:30 am by clicking on the “take a tour” button at winchesterhsproject.com. Or watch the video tour, also available on the web site.
Finally, please read the series of articles that have been published in the media this fall (also available at winchesterhsproject.com under Hot Topics), each addressing one aspect of the project. For instance:
• Costs; Meeting Three Goals: EFPBC member Charles Tseckares and the Communications Working Group outlined project costs and provided information regarding the financial and educational consequences if funding for the project is not approved.
• Failing Building; Phasing: School Committee Member (and architect) Chris Nixon addressed the ways in which the facility’s aging and inflexibility has rendered it obsolete – and non-compliant with seismic, disability access, fire and other building codes. EFPBC and School Committee member, Cindy Bohne detailed how the project might be phased over the three academic years of the project
• Enrollment; Educational Program: Superintendent McAlduff authored an article describing how a renovated WHS must accommodate projected enrollment of 1,313 students by 2017 – an increase of 44.8% over 2000. WHS Principal Tom Gwin and the high school leadership team wrote about how rebuilding the academic pods could create space that promotes educational values like critical thinking, creativity and effective communication.
Other articles included a description of how the project provides a more energy-efficient, sustainable building and an analysis of the process of selecting the right site for a future high school.
A Collaborative Effort
We’d like to thank the countless groups who have contributed over the past two years to make this a collaborative effort: Town Manager’s Office, Superintendent of Schools, Energy Management Committee, Sustainability Committee, Design Review Committee, Planning Board, Finance Committee, Town Meeting Members, School Parent Associations, faculty and staff of Winchester High School, Board of Selectmen and School Committee.
Linda A. Rossetti, on behalf of the EFPBC
The Members of the EFPBC:
Robert F. Deering, Chair, BOS Representative (Precinct 1)
Donald E. Cecich, Secretary (Precinct 3)
Bill McAlduff, Superintendent of Schools
Roger M. Hain, Finance Committee Representative (Precinct 6)
Cindy Bohne, School Committee Representative (Precinct 6)
Charles Tseckares, Architect (Precinct 3)
Geethanjali P. Mathiyalakan, Engineer (Precinct 5)
Gerald R. Nardone (Precinct 3)
Linda A. Rossetti (Precinct 2)
Brendan Driscoll (Precinct 7)
Shelly Walsh (Precinct 7)