The opposition to the proposed Nauset Regional High School renovation is relying on a confusing series of calculations based on questionable assumptions. Their main argument is that we can save millions of dollars by getting rid of school choice and building a school for 600 students instead of 900.
But school choice is a red herring — it isn’t on the March 30 ballot. The question is whether to affirm or reject an excellent renovation plan with vast benefits for students, for teachers, and for the community as a whole.
Take the time to look at the plan after you tour the school in its current state. You can take a virtual tour of the buildings on the Nauset website. The proposed design focuses on natural light, modern ventilation, accessible buildings, spacious classrooms, outdoor space, and modern furniture and technology. Distributed space for special education will ensure an inclusion model that brings students together. The design flows from how people learn, with room for individual study, multi-classroom lessons, and public presentations. It gives faculty space to get together in small groups for collaborative lessons and in a full faculty setting for optimal professional development.
The renovation offers much to the community as well. In addition to the intangible benefits of knowing that we gave the next generation an exceptional education in a top-notch facility, there are measurable benefits: A year-round performance space for everyone to enjoy. Space for adult and continuing education classes. A place for summer camps with proper athletic fields. In small towns with limited budgets, it’s often hard to find spaces to come together for a speaker series, a film, or a concert. The new Nauset will have space and opportunity for all that and more.
Finally, there is the fiscal benefit. The Nauset district has been granted $36.6 million by the Mass. School Building Authority for this renovation. You don’t need to be a finance committee member to know that turning down that kind of money is foolish.
This grant, which will cover about a quarter of the total cost, has been five years in the making. It did not come easily, but only after hundreds of hours of work: meetings with education experts and landscape architects, and visits to schools to see best practices and designs. The plan is based on regional and national studies of the best learning environments, with input from the Nauset faculty. The MSBA saw that the school was in desperate need of renovation, and the grant shows its enthusiastic support of the proposed plan.
Our kids will learn important lessons from the new Nauset High campus: That their education matters. That we believe in them enough to invest in their work and put everything we can into their learning environment. That we want them to consider multiple perspectives, to engage with as many different people as they can, and to value opportunities to gather as a community.
We owe them a challenging educational program in a facility that matches their worth. Please vote yes on March 30.
Kristen Roberts is co-owner and chief financial officer of Truro Vineyards.