I have been a resident/taxpayer in Concord for 46 years. My three children went through the school system. In recent years, I voted to support the construction of three elementary schools and a high school. In January 2022, I voted in favor of $103 million for a new middle school.
Fast forward one year. Construction costs and interest rates have risen. The Middle School Building Committee is asking for an additional $7.2 million to cover these costs, bringing the total to $110 million. While some reductions have been made, the MSBC has specifically not looked at reducing what they refer to as the “sacred cows”: the education plan; a “net zero ready” building; and community requests (not requested by the Superintendent for educational purposes) to construct a larger auditorium and a larger gym (“community wing”). The “value engineering” process used to reduce costs excluded these items from consideration.
The original $103 million was estimated to cost the median taxpayer $902/year for 25 years. With higher interest costs and this new $7.2 million request, that estimate is now $1,148/year. When do we say that “enough is enough?” I say that time is now.
We have all experienced increased costs for essentials—food, heat, gas, medicines, etc. Incomes have not risen, and many have declined. Many are living on fixed incomes. We have made adjustments in our lifestyles. Sure, it would be nice to afford a school with all the bells and whistles, but when does a “want” become a “need?” More robust cuts can be made without compromising the education plan or our sustainability goals, and some non-critical elements can be deferred. I urge a NO vote on Article 5 at the Jan. 19 Special Town Meeting, and at the polls on Feb. 16.