First step in new Beal School funding approved at Special Town Meeting

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Measure to ban polystyrene food containers also approved

By Melanie Petrucci
Senior Community Reporter

Shrewsbury – A measure to approve the first step for funding a new elementary school and an article to reduce the use of polystyrene disposable food containers were both passed at Shrewsbury’s Special Town Meeting (STM) Oct. 22.

Town Meeting members were asked to approve $92.8 million dollars in funding to build a new elementary school that would replace the former Beal School.

In a presentation, Shrewsbury Selectman James Kane, who also serves as the Beal Building Committee Chair, School Superintendent Dr. Joseph Sawyer and Town Manager Kevin Mizikar, outlined the proposal for the new building. If approved at the STM and then in a required ballot vote, which will take place Tuesday, Nov. 6, the town would proceed with the new school. The officials noted that $34 million will be allotted to the project by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA.)

Thirty one potential building sites have been considered for the new building. The Glavin Center located at 214 Lake Street was identified as the best option for the construction of a K-4 school that will accommodate 790 students as prescribed by the MSBA.

The new Beal will be built with 40 classrooms and dedicated spaces for special education, English language learners, art, music, media and a gym large enough for all-school assemblies.

Sawyer said that the MSBA devised a 10-year enrollment projection which led to this design with future enrollment growth in mind for 242 additional students by 2025. Other elementary schools will then become K-4 schools, allowing for all Shrewsbury students to have full day kindergarten across which is “becoming the expectation in public education in 2018.”

Town Manager Kevin Mizikar presented financial implications and debt servicing for the project. The town’s share of the $92.8 million project is $58.8 million with the $34 million expected from the MSBA grant.

The average single-family property, valued at $397,000, will see an increase of $369.49 to their tax bill in 2020 at its peak. Beyond 2020, the impact will decrease on a yearly basis.

Most comments made by Town Meeting members were positive. The article passed with only one or two audible dissenting votes.

Article 8, a citizen’s petition to reduce the use of polystyrene disposable food containers, was presented by Ramesh Razdan, along with Shrewsbury High School seniors, Rahul Razdan, Siddhant Dosi, Anirudh Iyer and Anish Warty. This is a modified version of a bylaw that was narrowly defeated at the Annual Town Meeting held last May,

“What we did after the last Town Meeting was an extensive amount of research and we worked with the Board of Health and the feedback they had given us resulted in a new bylaw,” Razdan said.

The Board of Health and the Board of Selectmen gave their unanimous support and the Finance Committee vote was seven to one in favor.

The School Committee did not take a formal vote but Board Chair Jason Palitsch said that each member of the board was also a Town Meeting member and as such, would be voting as individuals on the bylaw.

Comments were mixed with regard to support of this reduction bylaw. It passed with a clear majority, however.

The ban will not be implemented until Jan. 1, 2020.

For a full recap of the Special Town Meeting, go to https://shrewsburyma.gov/368/Annual-Special-Town-Meeting-Documents or watch the full meeting on the Shrewsbury Media Connection Public Access Channel, https://shrewsburyma.gov/155/Shrewsbury-Media-Connection.