I am voting no for the very first time on a Westerly school bond issue.
I served from the inception of the Vision 2020 building committee as a liaison between it and the Westerly School Committee. The first charge of the committee was to oversee the construction of a new state-of-the-art middle school and configure the Ward Senior High School and the existing Babcock Middle School into a campus arrangement. Improvements were made at that time to both schools along with the construction of a walkway between them to achieve the campus effect.
Next was a plan to address the elementary schools. The Vision 2020 plan was to maintain neighborhood elementary schools with a grade configuration of pre-K-5. Somewhere, somehow, through the years people have lost sight of the neighborhood elementary school concept.
Presently the town has three elementary neighborhood schools; Springbrook, State Street, and Dunn’s Corners. These encompass the North End, mid-town area, and South End area. Unfortunately, the Bradford Elementary School was closed, which in my estimation should never have happened. Bradford is just as much a neighborhood of Westerly as any other designated neighborhood.
I agree something needs to be done with the State Street School facility. We cannot continue to take the Band-Aid approach to the building. It, along with Tower Street School, have served the town well over the years. However; the price tag to build the new proposed school is too high and is going put an unbearable tax burden on taxpayers for years to come.
We need a new school but not at the price that is being brought before the taxpayers. Also,when addressing a new school, the neighborhood concept needs to be at the forefront. Then I will consider voting “yes” on a school bond issue.
Robert G. Kennedy