The Class of 2014 was at Spaulding High School recently, discussing Education. Like several classes before them, the majority of those attending were pleasantly surprised to see what Spaulding High School, the students and the staff had to offer.
Our program day included lunch prepared by and with students from the high school, a demonstration by the Jr ROTC, color guard, band and chorus, and lengthy discussions about early education, funding, common core, and local policy.
The public policy discussion was an interesting and timely one. Our panel included Tony Baldassaro, Chief Human Resource Officer from the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS), and Jim Hays, Superintendent of Newmarket School District.
After Tony spoke about VLACS- a school without walls- we heard from Superintendent Hays about Newmarket’s crumbling walls.
Newmarket has a facilities issue- and the town is grappling with finding solutions for a building that has several life and safety issues, is deteriorating, and has outlived its purpose. As the Superintendent joined us to discuss the challenges, opportunities and lessons learned from Newmarket, the town was preparing for a vote to spend roughly $45 million to build a new school the following week.
My mother lives in Newmarket, and- on voting day- I drove her to the polls. I don’t think I have ever seen as many people waiting to cast their vote. There were people from both sides of the issue holding signs… “Vote Yes for the future of our town” “Vote No and keep taxes low”. Whatever side the townspeople were on, they were loud, they were present, and they were passionate about the outcome.
I saw Superintendent Hays, who was pleased with the turnout of voters that day. When I saw him he said, “No matter what the decision, the voters of Newmarket are speaking loudly.”
When the results were tallied, 49% of the voters were in favor of the new school; 60% was needed to pass. The motion failed.
I’ve been asking myself, what happens now for Newmarket and the region? What will be the impact to the housing market in town? How will this impact the local economy? How will this impact the economic development? How will this impact the education system the town has now? What will Newmarket do now? How will Newmarket heal from this debate that has been so polarizing? And if you don’t live in Newmarket, how will this issue impact you?
What do you think?