A week ago or so Victor Olson, the chairman of the Greater Lowell Technical High School Board appeared on 980 WCAP to talk about the proposed renovation project for the GLTECH building.
The Dracut Town Meeting warrant has an article calling for Dracut to approve “a sum of money for borrowing authorized by the Greater Lowell Regional Vocational-Technical School District, for the purpose of paying costs of adding to, renovating, reconstructing and making extraordinary repairs to the District High School.”
A presentation was made to the Dracut Board of Selectmen (as well as FinCom, permanent build and school board members) at a recent board meeting describing the project.
Dracut is being asked to pay (including interest) $4,604,111 towards this project, with the state and other communities in the district picking up the remainder of the $65,310,211 project.
A vote to approve this by the town meeting would then fairly quickly go to a ballot vote.
Dracut gets hit a number of ways on this project.
First, because we are in the startup phase of our own school reconstruction project, we haven’t even seen the tax increases land on our tax bills yet for that project. Taxes will go up for the first project, then the other.
And second, because of the DHSl project, a larger number of our students have chosen to attend the GLTech, increasing our percentage of enrollment, and thus increasing the percentage that our town would pay towards this project (the annual debt service is proportioned by enrollment). Some of this cost may come down, if the student enrollment returns to the Dracut Schools, but we don’t know that will happen.
I believe we were told that the Greater Lowell Tech has an annual budget for one school of $30,000,000… with no debt service. I think the question needs to be asked why some of this maintenance and improvements were not done within their annual budget over the years, and what is being done to stop this from occurring again 20 years down the road once this proposed debt is paid off.
I’ve attached an audio recording of the interview, and encourage everyone to attend town meeting in November. I personally have trouble with voting for a tax increase on top of the one we just voted for, but they’ve got a few weeks more to sell it.