Watertown Strong Schools (WSS) is urging Watertown voters to vote no on ballot question #5 regarding the Community Preservation Act (CPA). Here’s why:
The funding needs of our schools should be Watertown’s highest priority at this time.
- All 5 of our schools are in urgent need of renovations and physical upgrades so that our buildings can support the overcrowding issues facing our Elementary schools and the high-quality 21st Century education that all our children deserve.
- The Watertown Public Schools (WPS) Facilities Master Plan study is almost complete, and initial cost estimates are that we will need at least $200 million to upgrade our school buildings.
- We believe that the passage of the CPA in November could jeopardize the willingness of Watertown residents to vote in favor of a debt exclusion override that will be necessary in the next 1-2 years to fund these essential school renovations.
WSS is not taking a position against the merits of the CPA itself, but rather on the timing of the CPA ballot initiative.
- We agree that investment in preserving and enhancing our community in the areas of historic preservation, affordable housing, and parks and open spaces is a worthwhile goal.
- Nevertheless, at this time we do not see any of the needs or opportunities in these areas as rising to the same level of priority as the needed renovations of our schools
- We suggest that the CPA discussion be postponed until Watertown finalizes its school building needs and secures the funding for their associated costs.
We acknowledge that Watertown residents come from a wide range of economic situations and that for many the decision may come down to affordability and priorities. We cannot presume that a majority will vote for both the CPA and school building renovations. How many times will Watertown voters approve additional tax increases over a short period of time, particularly given the recent increase of multi-family property taxes? We are not willing to risk the funding needed to move forward with future school building projects and the education of our students -- Are you?
In order to spread our message, Watertown Strong Schools will be placing signs around town. If you support our position and are interested in hosting a yard sign, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address, and we will be sure to deliver the sign to you.
To keep informed about education-related issues in Watertown, visit our website at http://www.watertownstrongschools.com, and like our Watertown Strong Schools page on Facebook.
For more information about the CPA, please visit http://www.communitypreservation.org/.