If I lived in Greenfield, I’d be in the majority of the voters who last night overwhelmingly approved borrowing $24 million to receive matching state funds to build a new $66 million high school. I think that anyone would agree that the existing school wasn’t up to any kind of standard–rickety and built in the 1970s, and that being about to leverage half the cost using state money makes sense.
So many other towns have fared poorly in these referendums. Sunderland, for example, stands out as a town full of people who refuse to vote to raise their own property taxes to pay for schools. More than a few Prop 2 1/2 overrides have been defeated there. Now we see what happens…school officials are trying to get some of their kids into Whately’s school, since they haven’t had to cut as much there. They did the same thing with the local Tri-Town Beach, now Sunderland kids can’t swim there. They won’t pay.
I wouldn’t be proud of living in a town that refuses to ante up for new schools. I think about Shutesbury and their library funding….I would predict, even with the recent discovery of PCBs at the site, that somehow there will be a new library built there and with the force of Oprah getting their video message out, funding will be coming in from more than just Shutesbury residents. I sense it will happen.
But back to Sunderland. It seems like a mean spirited town, one that is full of old fed-up people who say, well, my kids are grown up, so why should I have to pay for someone else’s kids’s school? I wouldn’t want to live in a town like that.
In towns like Greenfield a spirit is growing, people are optimistic and see the value of a brand new school, a track to run around, and they figure it’s worth paying for. They made the right call up there, and I am happy for them.