Misinformation abounds regarding the High School Project, and it is important that residents become educated about the project and the process.
The most recent letter from Ms. Altman stated that the 1985 graduating class of Longmeadow High School was 360. This is false it was 262 and the overall school district population in 1985 was 2,949, which is less than today's district population of over 3,000 students. In fact, the 20-year average for the school district is 2,996 students.
Ms. Altman's statement regarding overcrowding also requires clarification. She quotes from a local newspaper article that claims that the MSBA Executive Director cited overcrowding as one of the issues that a new facility will address at Longmeadow High School. I can't verify whether the quotation was accurately reported or not, but I can speak to the Statement of Interest submitted to the state. The Statement of Interest (SOI) does not include overcrowding as a reason for considering a long term building solution. The SOI was based on code violations, health and safety issues and structural/mechanical deficiencies. In fact, the new school will be smaller than the current one and will be an estimated 25 percent more energy efficient. None of the documents submitted to nor received from MSBA reference overcrowding as a deficiency. Copies of all official MSBA correspondence are available to the public.
In a "Guest Column" by Philip Fregeau, he falsely states the School Committee (SC) is driving the high school project. This is completely inaccurate. The 14 members of the School Building Committee, organized by MSBA statute, are the project leaders. This committee consists of one Select Board member and two School Committee members. The other 11 members are residents who serve as subject matter experts and town employees as it relates to their areas of responsibility.
Several other important facts were omitted by Mr. Fregeau: (1) he does not mention the fact that the state is committing over $30 million dollars to the project, but, if the town votes down the high school project on June 8, the state will allocate those dollars to another community and Longmeadow will have missed its chance for financial assistance; (2) as the School Committee has recommended, the town should establish a Town Facility Committee to review the 2008 JCJ Facility Study of all major town buildings and schools and to develop a long-range plan to address the needs of all of those facilities beginning with the reimbursable high school project makes complete sense; and, (3) Mr. Fregeau fails to mention what will happen to the children of Longmeadow if the high school loses its accreditation based on the condition of the facility. The public needs to remember that NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) just took LHS off warning based on the MSBA approval for Longmeadow High School.
Lastly, a letter from Mr. Delacretz mentions a previous study that was completed but falsely states the study shows it just "needs work." To quote the recommendation from this study: "Longmeadow High School Facility Assessment and Space Needs Study Longmeadow, MA Executive Summary Kaestle Boos Associates Inc. KBA No. 04023 January 28, 2005: To meet long term needs and goals, the benefits of a new school far outweigh the cost differential between the two solutions. Ultimately it is the best use of Town funds that must govern the decision; the community must be satisfied with the results and feel that the money was well spent. It is unlikely that Option 4 (renovation) will satisfy these criteria. A new school, therefore, represents the best solution to meet Town's educational goals."
The Statement of Interest, Feasibility Study and Schematic Design submissions are online at www.longmeadow.org/sbc
and in hard copy at Storrs Library. I encourage everyone to take the time to review these documents, attend informational sessions and learn the facts.