By Nancy Arsenault
Nashoba Superintendent Michael Woods is looking to build a new high school, according to Mark Dobyns Jones, Stow’s representative to the Nashoba Regional High School Space Study Task Force. “It could be in the same space, it could be on another piece of land,” said Jones at Tuesday night’s Selectmen’s meeting.
It was at the Task Force’s meeting last week that Wood informed the group that he would like to submit a Statement of Intent to build a new high school to the Massachusetts School Building Authority in January, hoping for some level
of funding reimbursement for such a project. Jones reported this information to the Selectmen, stating that the committee, formed less than a year ago, has not really had a lot of input thus far. Jones felt there is not a clear mission for the group. “Wood is driving the bus, you could say,” said Jones.
According to Jones, the estimated cost for Wood’s vision is around $107M, with a square footage price of about $400. Jones added that, while Wood said at the meeting that the total cost estimate was about $82M, if the math is done at the square footage cost he quoted to the group, “I think he calculated incorrectly.”
He said that Wood is envisioning a high school with more classrooms, reducing class size from 25 to 20, accommodating a total student body population of 1250. “He is giving a direction to the study group to follow, for the model he has in mind,” said Jones. Jones felt there has not been enough discussion, research or evidence gathered as to the current issues with the school nor the future needs. “The opportunity to clearly look at the data has been carefully fenced off by the administration, in my opinion,” he said.
Jones also reminded the Board that the current debt, carried by taxpayers, for high school capital projects will be on the tax rolls for years. Tom Ryan said, “We are still paying for the high school renovations from the last project for another 14 years, and the athletic fields won’t be paid off until 2028.”
Don Hawkes added, “I thought this was supposed to be a long range planning committee, yet one year after formation, it’s starting a very big ball rolling.”
Town Administrator Bill Wrigley said that he assumes the process to back such a project would require the full input from all three District towns. Jones urged the Board and interested members of other town committees to attend upcoming Space Study Task Force meetings, as well as the Tri-Town meetings where school district representatives address the government leaders of all three towns simultaneously. The next Space Study Task Force meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 18.