Do you support, oppose rebuilding AHS? Why?
What are your opinions about rebuilding Arlington High School?
Do you believe the school, the earliest part of which was built in 1914, needs to be reshaped, inside and out?
Do you believe the project costs, set at $291.4 million, is too high? If so, what would you cut -- and why?
Last, do you plan to vote in favor -- or against -- the ballot question in June? Please explain.
If you do plan to vote no, how do you justify losing an estimated $100 million in state reimbursements? If you want the project to just "start over," when do you think that start date might be -- and why.
In all cases, use facts and a sense of fairness to support your views. In all cases, provide your full name.
Feb. 6, 2019: Official vote backs cost of rebuilt AHS at $291.4M
This appeal for opinions was published Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.
Wow. I'm late to comment on this here but I have to say I am appalled by the attitudes of some of those who want to tear down the whole school and destroy the lawn and outright disgusted over how insulting you can be. And how you continually refuse to understand what we want and what we care about.
Those who oppose actually do fully support mostly new building for the high school. We would just like to save some of the historic aspects. I'm tired of you all misrepresenting us. I'm tired of you all showing zero respect for many of us who grew up here and would like to preserve just a little something.
We want to move forward, too. But it is possible to have a wonderful new school that doesn't destroy everything that was nice about the old one. Which this plan does.
As far as costs, why would HMFA be completely honest about the costs anyway? Architects want to do new buildings for a big project like this -- they don't want to renovate. These figures are not from an objective source.
The architects think first about their design and how impressive it may look.. Look at Thompson and their second floor balcony in the lobby. Who thought that was a good idea for an elementary school? Does that add educational value? You think they put the students first? (Do I have to spell out what is dangerous about a balcony?)
And where are the compromises the building committee claimed they'd make? There have been zero.
Don't think we weren't railroaded into this design. This is exactly what they wanted to do all along.
Stop mis-characterizing us. It's mean-spirited. I love how the tear-down people say, in so many words, "your voices were considered, now it's time to shut up so you won't bother us anymore". That is so condescending and hypocritical. We have the right to express ourselves, believe it or not, as much as you do. Is it our duty to make you comfortable with this disgrace of a decision?
You're going to win. Why not be gracious about it and try to scrap up some tiny scrap of reverence for the loss of what many of us consider to be a lovely space?
There are a lot of false or misleading statements coming from the opposition to the AHS Rebuild plans.
I recommend they read the Building Committee's report to Town Meeting. It will answer a lot, showing why this plan is no more expensive than other rebuilds going on at this time, how it involved a lot of community input (I went to 2 of the forums, which were well run), and how there were at least 10 different plans of varying costs and educational qualities which were voted on publicly in 2 rounds of online voting. Several of the options to do partial renovations with "historical preservation" were among the options, and were voted down, mainly because they'd be more costly while providing no extra educational value. Trying to repeat the entire community engagement process again will only be likely to end up with the same decision being made, because THAT WAS THE VOTE WINNING DECISION. The current plan was the most popular because it provided a much better educational experience and lower cost than the historical preservation options.
Two big problems with the opposition's plan to delay by 5 to 7 years are the following:
1) We would have to fund the full cost of the rebuild ourselves, with no help from the MSBA. Lincoln waited for 6 years for MSBA to let them back in (2012-2018) before giving up and planning a renovation on their own at much greater expense. MSBA has many times more applicants than it can fund, so those that turn them down after starting the process are deemed too risky to be worth the trouble. Based on Lincoln's experience, I would guess 12 to 20 years would be a good estimate of how long it would be before we could get state funding again.
2) Enrollments are rising rapidly. 1290 two years ago, 1390 now, 1620 by 2022, 1732 by 2024. The school is currently over capacity in some ways (cafeteria size... ask any student), and close to capacity in all other ways. Based on the April 2018 Preliminary Design Report saying the school was at 95% capacity with 1350 students, a 100% capacity would be under 1430 students. That will be exceeded this fall.
THE REBUILD CAN'T WAIT. Moving offices elsewhere would be the first step, and that would come at great expense (estimate for moving Menotomy Preschool to Parmenter is $11.4 million, and moving District Admin to Parmenter is $8.8 million, and that doesn't include the cost to fix up the vacated spaces for classroom use). It would also only delay things about 3 or 4 years, before even more space would be needed (meanwhile the cafeteria would be impossibly undersized).
The next step would be modulars on the front lawn. They would stay there until some form of rebuild is approved, potentially a long time. These would add even more expense.
(And yes, in 2023 we would lose accreditation.)
So, if you object for financial reasons, please realize that the current plan is the LOWEST COST option we're going to get, BY FAR. Any plan to delay by several years will cost much more when you add up all the costs of emergency capacity increases and maintenance, combined with a lack of state funding, on top of the eventual rebuild cost.
If you object for aesthetic and historical reasons, please accept that your concerns were considered (many voiced the same wishes very early in the process), and a public vote showed that the current plan was preferred, anyway. The conversations and forums and votes already happened, over a year-long period. At some point we must close discussion and begin to take action. That time is now. Enrollment increases won't allow us to delay even more and debate options even longer only to reach the same conclusion.
Carl speaks about a 5-7 year delay, to what end? First, its to replace all the people that made the decision set he didn't like - replace the designer, but more perniciously, replace the members of the Building Committee - his "Arlington graduates" comment. So being an Arlington HS alumni would give one a better perspective on the design decisions than an architect? an educator? a construction expert with experience in school rebuilds? Because that's who the MSBA sought to have our our building committee today. Would you replace a Principal Janger, who sees the school workings daily, with a Carl Wagner, that stands out front and has a perspective that the inside is not of his concern?
In 5-7 years, the MSBA will have walked, and won't return - there are enough towns out there that want their support that they aren't going to soon return to one that wasted their time only to balk when it came time to commit.
Historic credit? That's risible - because to do what SOHAHS proposes, a pure renovation, you'd have to scale back the Education Plan.. its not possible to build more science classrooms when the space isn't there. And the MSBA is surely not going to applaud historical preservation when its main goal, a solid educational facility, is thrown aside as less important.
Delay will hurt the students - years more in a failing facility, a problem Carl states exists only to discard as not worth further discussion. It will hurt the taxpayer, with loss of MSBA support and 5-7 years more of steady inflation, raising the costs 4% a year.
SOHAHS can't be faulted for wanting "the best" - its a natural desire in any design to want all things to never conflict. But they can be called out for wanting "their best" to be elevated higher than "the student's good" - a facility that will serve its educational mission to its students and staff with state help to make this affordable to the town.
As of Feb. 15, 367 people had looked at this plea, but no one has yet submitted an opinion. Why not? Social media has been full of opinions about this. Is the request to be fair and factual an issue? If so, that would be a shame. C'mon, folks. You'll face a vote in June.
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