Opinion: The Closing Argument For A New 7-12 School In Belmont [VIDEO]

Photo: Image from the video supporting the debt exclusion for a new 7-12 School.

By Ellen Schreiber and Sara Masucci

Why vote YES on #4?

A YES vote on Question #4 would provide the funding to replace Belmont High School with a new middle and high school – “two schools in one” – to serve grades 7-12.

A YES vote would solve the must-fix problem with overcrowding throughout Belmont’s schools – with one project, in five years, with the least disruption to students and residents.

A YES vote comes with an $80 million state grant that goes away if we do not use it now – and it can only be used for this project. Otherwise, we would likely wait 10+ years for another opportunity for state money.

A YES vote is the least expensive and best solution to the problems in our schools. The alternative is a series of piecemeal projects that will cost more for Belmont taxpayers, create 10+ years of disruption, and result in a much worse solution.

1. We get more and pay less.

High schools are expensive, complicated projects. And in Boston’s construction market, costs are rising 4% every year. If we wait one year, this school will cost another $12 million. Wait two years, and we are in for another $24 million. Wait three years, another $37 million. And so on.

We can’t afford to wait.

And there isn’t a cheaper solution. The state requires that we make prudent responsible decisions or we lose the state grant. This is just what a basic, 21st century high school costs. Want benchmarks? Arlington and Waltham are both planning new schools, but theirs will cost more than ours – over $300 million – for fewer students.

There is no good alternative.

If we vote no, Belmont taxpayers will spend more on a series of projects that do a poor job of patching the problems. We are voting on $213 million for the 7-12 school. The alternative is $247 million for an educational result that does not solve all of the problems.

Financially, the 7-12 school is the most responsible choice.

2. The Problem is Real and Urgent.

In 2012, Belmont High School’s accreditation was put on warning by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, calling it a “crisis” that our building “does not support the delivery of programs.” 

And that was before enrollment really spiked. Our schools are now bursting at the seams. We have added over 700 students in the last 7 years, and that tidal wave is rising through the system and will hit the high school in a few years.

There is no space.

We have “repurposed” every possible space in the buildings – converting closets into classrooms, tutoring students in lobbies, and using hallways as overflow space for classroom projects.

We have added temporary modular classrooms, but they cannot serve our long-term needs.

We have expanded class sizes, but it has gone beyond the tipping point and is impacting the education we provide to Belmont’s children.

The problems in our schools must be fixed. Now.

3. It’s The Right Thing to Do.

In Belmont, we care about our schools. They are a source of pride. Generations of Belmont children have been well-educated and gone on to happy and productive lives.

It’s who we are.

There are a lot of towns next to Boston and Cambridge, but few have what we have in Belmont. This is a great town with a strong sense of community, first-rate local businesses, friendly neighbors … and excellent schools.

Belmont is a great town today because of the decisions of generations who came before us. Now it is our turn to make an investment for future generations.

The choice is clear. Please vote YES on Question #4 on November 6.

Ellen Schreiber and Sara Masucci are leaders of the YES for Belmont committee.

Artists Will Explore Their Abstract Art On Saturday at the Belmont Gallery

Photo: Visiting the art installation “Explorations of Abstract Art”.

The artists talk at the Belmont Gallery of Art for the show “Explorations of Abstract Art” will be held on Saturday, Nov. 3, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the gallery located on the third floor of the Homer Building located in the Town Hall complex.

Artists Kirsten Reynolds, Jeanne Arthur, Nedret Andre and Susie White will talk about their work at the Belmont Gallery of Art with guest speaker A. Melissa Venator, the Stefan Engelhorn Curatorial Fellow in the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard, who will open with a brief talk about the foundations of abstract art in the early 20th century.

Snacks and drinks will be provided.

Belmont High Field Hockey Downs Concord Carlisle, 2-0, In Playoff’s First Round [VIDEO]

Photo: Senior co-captain Jordan Lettiere (left) scored both goals in Belmont’s victory over Concord.

Belmont High Field Hockey tallied early and late as the Marauders eased by Concord Carlisle Regional, 2-0, in first round action in the MIAA Division 1 North sectionals at Harris Field on Halloween.

Senior co-captain Jordan Lettiere scored the pair of goals as the 7th-seed Marauders’ defense and midfield dominated the run of the game as Belmont held advantages in shots, 19 to 4, and corners, nine to one, giving the 12th-ranked Patriots scant opportunities to even the score.

“I thought we played well,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Jessica Smith. “I think we used each other and passed well. We need to make those opportunities inside the [attack] circle into goals.” 

Playing inside forward, Lettiere netted her first on a backhand strike four minutes into the game – assisted by senior left forward Hana Power – then waited until the final 23 seconds to pocketed her second off a restart with the assist to junior center back Emma Donahue.

The victory sends the Marauders into the quarter-finals of the Division 1 North sectionals to battle it out against Masconomet Regional, ranked 2nd with a record of 16-1-2. The game is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 2 at 2:30 p.m. in far-off Boxford but the forecast calls for rain and thunderstorms throughout the day. The rain is particularly problematic for the teams as Masco’s home field is a grass pitch.

Masco defeated Reading, 3-0, Wednesday scoring its goals in the final 15 minuted of the first half. Belmont defeated the Rockets twice in Middlesex League play, 2-0 away and 3-1 at home.

In control for most of the game, Belmont used its speed and dribbling skill to bottle up the Patriots’ offense which relied on the long ball in an attempt to beat the Marauders’ press defense. When Concord entered the 25-meter mark from the Belmont goal, the Marauders’ backline – Donahue, senior Hayley Koenigsberg, and senior co-captain Mia Kaldenbough playing in front of senior goalie Molly Calkins – never gave the Concord forwards much room for an open shot on goal. 

Smith praised the play of junior sweeper/midfield Meaghan Noone, pointing to Noone’s breaking up a three-on-one Patriots breakaway with Belmont up by a goal.

“She came out of nowhere and was a superstar,” said Noone, noting her two-way play, several times taking an intercepted pass halfway down the field to spark the offense. 

“I had to get into the ‘zone’ … know who their best players were and step up,” said Noone. 

Belmont controlled the tricky left side of the pitch – which is difficult to play well as field hockey sticks are all “right-handed” – as junior midfield Kate Devitt and senior forward Hana Power found the pace to outrun defenders. 

Junior center midfield Katie Guden and her speedy compatriot Marissa Cecca caused fits for the Patriots as they used their quickness and stick skills to quickly transition the play to the offense. Up front, Belmont’s “go to” scoring duo – Lettiere (21 goals, 7 assists) and four-year starter co-captain Morgan Chase (14 goals, 9 assists) – generated many of shots in the game.

“I was hustling to the ball because I didn’t want our season to end,” said Lettiere. 

For Smith, the next match will be only the second time on grass this season for the Marauders. But she noted that Belmont has won in the postseason on “real” turf, recently vs. Danvers, and believes the slower surface will allow her forwards to catch up to the ball and provide more scoring opportunities. 

“The best players play best on the grass,” said Noone. 

“We’ll do fine,” added Lettiere.