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Vote goes Minuteman's way, 69.47% to 30.4%

Certified results reported; superintendent offers thanks; Belmont weighs leaving

No on Minuteman image Build Arlington's Future logo

UPDATED, Oct. 4: Residents in 16 towns voting in a special election Tuesday, Sept. 20, forced by Belmont gave the go-ahead to fund a new $144.9 million Minuteman Regional High School.

Unofficial returns showed 69.47 percent casting ballots in favor and 30.4 percent against, or a tally of 12,160 to 5,321, numbers little changed from those first reported.

Arlington's vote was 2,908 to 1,197, or 70.7 percent to 29.1 percent. Voting no were Belmont, Sudbury and Wayland; the rest of the towns voted yes.

Superintendent Edward A. Bouquillon has thanked voters in the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District for supporting construction of a new high school.

'Support overwhelming' 

"The level of support was simply overwhelming," Bouquillon said in a news release Wednesday, Sept. 21. "I’m so grateful to the voters and to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen. This is a major milestone in Minuteman’s history."

Bouquillon noted that final, unofficial tallies showed the project winning in Minuteman’s 16 communities with a margin of 12,158 in favor and 5,320 opposed. Voter turnout was 10 percent.

The Sept. 20 districtwide referendum required only a simple majority of those voting in the district to approve the project. They did, with nearly seven out of 10 voting in favor.
"What this mean is that we’re going to build a brand new school for future generations," he said. "And we’re going to do it with solid support from the voters in the vast majority of our towns."

What happens next

Bouquillon said Minuteman will now proceed with Module 6 of the Massachusetts School Building Authority process. Working with its project manager and architects, it will try to accelerate final design and planning for the new school.

Voters in 12 of the 16 member towns voted in favor of building the new school by wide margins. In Needham, the margin was 92 percent to 8 percent.

Voters in Carlisle, Sudbury and Wayland opposed the new school by narrow margins, totaling 43 votes.

Belmont voters opposed the school by a margin of 72 percent to 28 percent.

Belmont's opportunity

The election results also give the Town of Belmont an opportunity to call a Special Town Meeting to consider its future as a member of the district, Bouquillon said. If Belmont Town Meeting votes by a two-thirds margin to leave the district, it could do so if no member community objects.

The state School Building Authority has committed roughly $44 million in state money to help finance the project. The district will pay for the rest through borrowing and through revenue generated by a new capital fee to be imposed on nonmember communities that send students to Minuteman.

The New England Association of Schools & Colleges has placed Minuteman’s accreditation on “warning” status solely because of the condition of its building. 

Unofficial returns reported at 9:36 p.m. Sept. 20, and updated Oct. 4 with certified numbers repirted by town clerks:

  YES Votes Percent YES NO Votes Percent  NO Blanks Percent BLANKS Total Votes Cast Registered Voters Percent Turnout
Acton 984 78.72% 263 21.04% 3 0.24% 1250 14943 8.37%
Arlington 2908 70.77% 1197 29.13% 4 0.10% 4109 31295 13.13%
Belmont 902 27.89% 2328 71.99% 4 0.12% 3234 17458 18.52%
Bolton 179 65.81% 93 34.19% 0 0.00% 272 3697 7.36%
Boxborough 308 89.53% 36 10.47% 0 0.00% 344 3613 9.52%
Carlisle 87 45.55% 101 52.88% 3 1.57% 191 3781 5.05%
Concord 971 89.99% 108 10.01% 0 0.00% 1079 13038 8.28%
Dover 220 58.67% 155 41.33% 0 0.00% 375 4090 9.17%
Lancaster 209 65.72% 109 34.28% 0 0.00% 318 4983 6.38%
Lexington 2473 87.08% 357 12.57% 10 0.35% 2840 21614 13.14%
Lincoln 294 87.76% 41 12.24% 0 0.00% 335 4617 7.26%
Needham 1844 91.83% 164 8.17% 0 0.00% 2008 20655 9.72%
Stow 480 78.82% 129 21.18% 0 0.00% 609 5066 12.02%
Sudbury 103 44.78% 127 55.22% 0 0.00% 230 12602 1.83%
Wayland 78 48.45% 83 51.55% 0 0.00% 161 9210 1.75%
Weston 120 80.00% 30 20.00% 0 0.00% 150 8245 1.82%
OVERALL 12,160 69.47% 5,321 30.40% 24 0.14% 17505 178907 9.78%
Source:  Town clerks reported yes, no, blanks, total and registered-voter counts.  Percentages generated by Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District.

Reported earlier

Arlington voted overwhelmingly June 14 in favor of three school-construction questions totaling $63 million. Voters supported paying Arlington's $32 million share for construction of new Minuteman High School 6,193 to 3,470, or 64 percent.
He urged those with questions about Minuteman to consult the Build Arlington's Future site, which promoted a yes vote for the June 14 ballot questions.Dan Dunn, supporting a yes vote, told selectmen Aug. 22 that there would be no formal campaign on the part of local government to lobby before noon-to-8 p.m. vote that day -- just social-media efforts by advocates. Except for a Sept. 12 League of Women voters' discissussion in Belmonth, this was the case.

Read views seeking a yes vote here and a no vote here. Superintendent Ed Bouquillon offers his view of new rules about nonmember fees here.

Town opposition to share with Belmont

The ballot-question committee that opposed Minuteman bonding -- Build a Better Minuteman -- will not be an active factor in Arlington. MaryAnna Foskett, group treasurer, provided paperwork to the clerk's office July 14 saying the group has dissolved.

Alan Jones wrote in an email Sunday, Aug. 28, that the group cochaired with Charlie Foskett would not push for a no vote here. "Since Arlington Town Meeting approved the plan, we don't have the same options that Belmont has. I've left the site up and offered any and all contents to the Belmont committee.

"Although I believe that the renovation option is the best way to preserve Minuteman as a viable district, I'm not aware of any organized opposition to the new building except for 'Better Plan for Belmont,' which is working to preserve Belmont's option to exit the district, or at least release it from the debt burden.

"If the referendum passes, I sincerely hope the plan will play out as promised so that Minuteman can continue to be an option for Arlington's students without negatively impacting our other schools."

Town Cerk Stephanie Lucarelli said Monday, Aug. 29, that Build Arlington's Future has not dissolved.

Pro-Minuteman paperwork filed here

Meanwhile, the chair of the Minuteman School Committee, Ford Spalding of Dover, filed with the Arlington clerk's office on Aug. 1 paperwork for a committee called Campaign for Minuteman's Future, one of 16 towns in which the organization filed. An independent group is managing its Facebook presence >>

Find a Facebook site for Better Plan for Belmont here >>

"Get out and vote, please," Dunn said.

For Arlington residents, voters will cast ballots at 10 polling places, three of which differ because of construction at the Stratton School. See them here >> 

On Aug. 18, A Better Plan for Belmont filed as an organization with the Belmont's clerk’s Office. The group has filed only in Belmont and says members seek a no vote Sept. 20.

To determine high school funding, that vote requires a simple majority in all 16 towns, one way or the other.

Members of A Better Plan for Belmont say the project is too large and lets nonmember towns avoid paying their fair share of the capital costs.

Belmont Town Meeting voted May 4 to oppose issuing debt for the project, placing it on hold, because all member towns needed to either support the debt or take no action.

With $46.4 million of state reimbursement threatened, Minuteman's School Committee on June 27 called for districtwide vote.

Belmont could leave district

A Better Plan for Belmont targets residents of that town. No matter how the district vote goes, if the majority of the town’s residents vote against issuing debt, Belmont could move to leave the Minuteman district. If two-thirds of Town Meeting members vote to leave, the town would notify that it intends to leave Minuteman within 60 days.

While Belmont may not be allowed to leave the district, the town would not have to pay its share of the debt for the school, under the regional agreement.

The Belmont League of Women Voters has scheduled a Sept. 12 public meeting about Minuteman in Belmont.

Aug. 2, 2016: Build Arlington's Future to donate remaining campaign funds to school library

Aug. 17: Minuteman special election: Polling changes for 3 town precincts

June 16: UNANIMOUS -- Town voters say yes, yes, yes in all precincts 

June 8, 2016: Seniors raise pointed questions, get basic answers about 3 Tuesday ballot questions

This news summary was published Monday, Aug. 29, 2016, and updated Sept. 21.

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