Dear Editor:

On Tuesday September 26, 2017, Newton residents will have the opportunity to vote on a referendum to build classroom space at Merriam Avenue School in order to close Halsted Street School. Halsted has served the community well for over a century.  It will remain an iconic structure and potentially become an important tax rateable.

These are things for the Newton community to decide. Over the past decade, the Board of Education has studied, debated, and planned how best to provide the facilities your children deserve to promote success in college, careers, and life.  The Board worked for a year to develop a strategic plan that considered multiple scenarios before identifying what we believed to be the best option: a new middle school on property adjacent to Newton High School.  

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When Plan A proved to be unworkable financially, the Board was prepared with Plan B: an expansion of Merriam Avenue School to educate students in grades pK-8 once again.  This proposal met the Board's educational mission while fitting within the district's debt capacity.  Other alternatives studied and considered included renovating Halsted into a more modern elementary or middle school, adding grade levels to Newton High School, and leasing available facilities while remaining open to more creative solutions. No stone has been left unturned.

Throughout the process, the Board has reached out for public input, which has been critical in shaping the decisions made thus far.  Many good questions have been asked along the way, and we've provided answers based on hard facts and thoughtful consideration.  Recent off-base comments and simplistic distractions serve only as reminders that the hardest thing to see is often what is right in front of us. 

What is right in front of us is a choice for Newton's future.  I encourage all eligible residents to come out and vote on Tuesday September 26th. Your voice needs to be heard!

Sincerely,

Dr. G. Kennedy Greene, Superintendent

Newton Public Schools