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ABOUT TOWN: Should Stoughton Get a New High School? (And More...)

Welcome to "About Town with Mark Snyder," a column that will keep you up to the minute with what's what, who's who and what's going on around town. If you see or hear something we could use here, let us know by sending an e-mail to pmpco@aol.com.

THOUGHTS ABOUT A NEW HIGH SCHOOL:  Article 66 is asking for Town Meeting to borrow up to $1 million for a to look at the potential renovation or replacement of SHS. 

There's no doubt that high school needs a radical repair job or total replacement. It seems that the myriad of problems - many involving the health of teachers, staff and students - is beyond a simple repair job. 

It is estimated that it could cost 15-20 million dollars for repairs to the building.

But, there are SO many problems - particularly the mold, mildew, asbestos, and water problems - that would really require that portions of the building would need to be torn down. And, like repairing an old car, it might run, but it would not be the most modern vehicle. 

Learning is constantly changing. Whiteboards replaced blackboards. IPads are replacing books. Technology changes on a daily basis. Preparing students for college (and the Real World), means training them on the latest equipment, in comfortable, healthy facilities. 

Stoughton High School's "plant" is an embarrassment that was flagged by the accreditation committee for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (). Would residents want to take the chance of losing accreditation in the future? That would be devastating to our schools (and our property values.)

So, what is the next step towards getting a new high school? It's a LONG process. The Stoughton Public Schools need to get into the grant program of the Massachusetts School Building Authority. 

Their first step was a "" that was sent earlier this year to the MSBA. 

The next step is to fund a for the possible replacement, renovation or addition to Stoughton High. The cost - a staggering million dollars - could be a major hurdle. 

Town Meeting members are being offered a tour on Wednesday night, starting at 7 p.m., to see the depths of the high school building. Those that go would be inclined to support the study. 

If the MSBA puts Stoughton in its sights, then the town could be reimbursed about 57% of the cost of the study. But, even then, that is still a $430,000 nut to crack. No money would be spent unless the MSBA invites into its eligibility process. If the Town Meeting passes the funding for this study, then we'll all know if we can get away with renovations or an addition, or if we'll need a new school. Every angle will be covered in the study and all the facts will be before us. 

But, if all goes as is hoped, one day in the future Stoughton could have a school like , a true community and learning center that would make us all proud - and pump up the value of your home (because people WANT to move here.) 

Preliminary estimates are that a similar-type high school would run about 70 million dollars, and with all the various programs, the MSBA could end up paying up to two-thirds of the cost.

It's a long way down the road. Would the town try to do a Debt Exclusion? Would they try to finance it through the regular borrowing process? That remains to be seen. 

But, if we don't prepare now, we'll never get a new or refurbished building. And, that is a dank, dark, and smelly thought.

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BLOOD DRIVE AT THE Y: There will be a blood drive for the Red Cross at the Old Colony YMCA in Stoughton on Thursday, May 17 from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m. 

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FAMILY NIGHT AT OLD COLONY Y CAMP: On Friday, May 18, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m., the Old Colony YMCA's  will be hosting some fun for the kids. 

Join them for an evening of outdoor fun! Climb into the trees on the adventure course, aim for the bull's-eye on the archery range, enjoy family sports games on the camp field, and roast marshmallows by the fire. Best of all, it's Free!  

Check it out. For more information, call 781-341-2016.

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LONE REPUBLICAN ON THE RADIO: Stoughton resident Holly Robichaud, otherwise known as the "Lone Republican" columnist in the Boston Herald, will guest host for Jeff Katz tomorrow morning on his radio show.  It airs on AM 1200 from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.  You can call the show live at 617-931-1200.

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PATCH EDITOR A KEYNOTE SPEAKER: This Friday, May 18, Stoughton Patch editor Jeffrey Pickette will be delivering a speech to Brandeis University's graduating journalism minors at their mini-comencement ceremony, held a couple of days before the Waltham school's main graduation festivities.

Pickette, a Stoughton resident, is a 2006 graduate of Stoughton High and a 2010 graduate of Brandeis University, where he majored in history and minored in journalism and politics. 

The Brandeis journalism program likes to have recent alumni with experience in the field come and speak to the graduating students, and Pickette is this year's pick.  

Pickette has been the editor of Stoughton Patch since it . 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY: to Stoughton Police Department Juvenile Detective Roger Hardy; and to Andrea Cooper, a Clinical Social Worker at Old Colony Correctional Center. The B.C. grad in a fire recently.

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DarkKnight May 17, 2012 at 12:46 PM
I have to say 1 million for a study seems outrageous. Is there some type of RFP done. What exactly do you get for this kind of money? A 50 page paper that tells us what we already know? The school is in disrepair. People want a new library, a new school, fix the train station, build a new fire station. How about developing a strategic plan around all of the above. We can't have it all. In fact from what I see we can't afford any of it. When I hear things like spend 1 million dollars for a study I can't even begin to imagine what we get for that, but I would love to know.

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