Vote NO on ballot Question One

In his Acton Forum "Acton : Vote No Ballot Question One" article: acton-vote-no-ballot-question-one-school-building, Allen Nitschelm explains why he thinks that the proposed new three-story, 170,000 square foot school building is unnecessary, and how a much smaller building would be adequate to replace the existing Douglas and Gates buildings. He estimates that reducing the number of elementary school buildings from the current six to five would allow paying for the principal and interest of a 30 year bond for the cost of the new, smaller building from the operating budget without a debt exclusion override, thus avoiding the large tax increase proposed by the school committee.

One of the main arguments for a 170,000 square foot building to replace two buildings with a combined size of 100,000 square feet has been that K-6 enrollment will increase dramatically in the next 10 years, based on projections by the New England School Development Council (NESDEC). I have reviewed the K-6 enrollment numbers used by NESDEC in their reports presented to the School Committee last year at the 5 November 2018 meeting and last month at the 15 November 2019 meeting. Last year the NESDEC numbers for the school years 2015 to 2019 matched the DESE enrollment numbers exactly, as they should, for those years these are “actual" numbers, not projections. Last month the NESDEC numbers for these same school years are different, without an explanation. Second, the projections for the next 10 years changed substantially from last year, as shown in these two links,

DESE Actual 2018

DESE Actual 2019,

again, without any explanation. As Allen points out the births to Kindergarten ratios used by NESDEC since 2017 are significantly higher than the historical ratios used by NESDEC prior to 2017, historical ratios that are consistent with available data. The higher ratios create higher projected enrollments.

The exaggerated projections required a discussion that, unfortunately, did not take place at Town Meeting.

I have previously expressed my concern about building anything in the Fort Brook floodplain. I doubt that a 170,000 square foot commercial building at that location would be welcome.

Regards,

Charlie

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