Winchester Considers $130M School Renovation

By Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV

WINCHESTER (CBS) — Voters in Winchester have a $130 million question to answer next week.

Do they want to completely renovate their nationally acclaimed high school which is only 41 years old?

“It is wasteful, there is no reason why we need to replace this school.”

John Natale is furious about Winchester’s plans to spend $130 million renovating the high school. You can spot this town meeting member driving a truck around town with a large sign asking residents to vote “no” on the December 10th tax override.

“We have a wonderful school system, a fantastic school system, and $130 million will not make it any better.”

There are plenty of drawings online showing what a new Winchester high school would look like in 2017. Supporters of the three year renovation project admit it will cost the average homeowner about $800 more each year in taxes.

School Superintendent William McAlduff says the current high school is riddled with expensive problems….from leaking ceilings….to mold and mildew….to outdated science labs and inefficient heating systems. He says the list goes on and on. And he says the state will pay for one third of the renovation costs.

“If this override does not pass, if we do not go forward with the rebuild of this high school, taxes will be going up just because of all the building deficiencies.”

Town meeting members seem to really like the idea of renovating the high school, in fact they voted 153 to 5 in favor of the project in November. And around town, WBZ could only find front yard signs supporting the override.

On the street though, mixed opinions.

One woman said “ I am not sure yet, I am really torn.” Another said “I am voting in favor.”

Voters decide this issue on December 10th.

This year Winchester High School was one of just 53 high schools in the country to win a “Blue Ribbon Award” for academic excellence the US Department of Education.

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