By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – A diverse group of about 50 people gathered Sept. 23 at the Italian American Victory Club in Shrewsbury to kick off the Ballot Question Committee organized for the passage of a debt exclusion to build a new K-4 Beal School. The vote will take place in a town-wide election, Tuesday, Nov. 6, which coincides with the statewide election. Shrewsbury voters will receive two ballots.
The proponents’ message was simple: it’s a “yes” or “no” vote, but the decision has not yet been made and it will be critical for every voter in support of the new school to get to the polls. Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 22, through Friday, Nov. 2
There is no identified ballot committee organized to oppose this question.
“The purpose of this committee is to communicate to Shrewsbury that it’s a valued proposition…The MSBA [Massachusetts School Building Authority] took a look at the current site, and made the determination that this building does not meet the town’s space needs and they aren’t going to be spending state dollars on [renovations]. If we move forward with the project [through the Nov. 6 vote], we are going to receive assistance from the commonwealth and if we don’t then we are on our own,” stated campaign co-chair and member of the Shrewsbury School Committee Jason Palitsch.
Notables in attendance included State. Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury), Selectmen Jim Kane, John Lebeaux, Moira Miller, Moe DePalo and Beth Casavant (also co-chair of the campaign), and School Committee members Sandy Fryc and Erin Canzano.
“This is a great opportunity and it will be a much bigger school,” said Matthew Armenti, who emceed the program.
Armenti and his wife Erica are very excited that their two daughters will be among the first to attend the proposed school when it is slated to open in 2021.
Speakers included Selectmen Chair John Lebeaux, Community Supporters Campaign Manager Jason Molina, and current Beal school parent and co-president of the Beal PTO, Michelle Conlin.
Lebeaux’ remarks emphasized that the question before the voters is for a debt exclusion, which can be compared to a mortgage. It is not a permanent override.
Conlin presented a list of Beal’s deficiencies which include a lack of a working fire suppression system, inadequate plumbing and bathroom facilities that are not ADA compliant, an HVAC system that is original to the building, out-of-date electrical, non-thermal windows, congested traffic conditions, the lack of appropriate spaces for special education, English language learners, art and music, and an undersized cafeteria.
Molina concluded the program with his message – find the time, make it a priority, get involved and vote.
“We have one opportunity as a community to solve the problem of an aging Beal and address overcrowding across our elementary schools with the help of state funding. It’s an investment … I urge people to learn more about the project and to vote ‘yes’ Nov. 6,” added Casavant.
For more information, visit www.SupportBeal.com.