Landslide! Debt Exclusion For New 7-12 School Passes By More Than 3 To 1 Margin

Photo: Ellen Schreiber (right), co-chair of “Yes on 4” celebrating Tuesday night’s election result.

In a result that few could have predicted, Belmont voters overwhelmingly approved a debt exclusion to construct a new 7th through 12th grades school building by more than three to one margin on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 6.

The final vote total on Question 4 was 9,467 yes and 2,952 no with the “yes” vote receiving 76.2 percent support from the 12,833 voters – a whopping 72.4 percent turnout of registered voters – who crowded Belmont’s eight precincts throughout the mostly rain swept day. 

The night was a spectacular victory for two groups, the Belmont High School Building Committee which created a transparent and public-friendly process as the project moved from initial support by the state to a nearly finished design, and the “Yes On 4” advocacy group which promoted the new high school as, despite its costly label, fiscally responsible.

“When I first started seeing the numbers come in, I just couldn’t believe them. It says something when that many people in the town agree that we needed to do this,” said Ellen Schreiber, the “Yes on 4” co-chair with Sara Masucci at a large celebration with Question 4 supporters on Tuesday night. “It’s an amazing day for the town, for our residents, and for our children.”

The question now heads to next week’s Special Town Meeting on Nov. 13 where it will be presented before Belmont’s legislative body for approval, which is a near certainty. While the ballot question does not indicate a cost of the exclusion, the Building Committee placed a $213 million price tag for the town’s share of the $295 million middle/high school. The Massachusetts School Building Committee, which has worked in partnership with the town since it voted to accept Belmont’s application to build a new school in January 2016, will pony up the remaining funds. 

With approval at the Special Town Meeting, the construction of the 451,575 square-foot campus housing 2,215 students will get underway with the completion of the building design in April 2019 with actual shovels in the ground after the school year ends in June 2019 with the 9-12 grade portion of the school completed by July 2021. The middle school section will then be built on the site of the former high school. The school will be completed by September 2023.

Just how unexpectedly large the “yes” majority turned out was caught in the reaction to the vote total from Pat Brusch, a member of the Belmont High School Building Committee, who accompanied Belmont School Committee Chair Susan Burgess-Cox to a backroom in Town Hall where Town Clerk Ellen Cushman and volunteers were tabulating the 3,400 early voting ballots minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m.

Ten minutes after the polls closed, the first two early voting results, for Precincts 1 and 2, showed the yes’ had scored widespread support, a cumulative total of 777 to 250 in favor.

“It’s still early,” said Brusch, a noted pessimist who had spent past elections anxiously waiting the votes from residents with a well-known skepticism to approving tax increases.

When the result from the precincts themselves began filtering in on Burgess Cox’ cell-phone showing Belmont voters in near complete support for the new school project, Brusch – who was also vice-chair of the Wellington Building Committee and served on the building committees for the Chenery and Burbank/Winn Brook school construction projects – stood to stare in stunned silence for several seconds.

“I’m truly shocked,” Brusch final said as it became clear that before even a quarter of the votes had been tallied the “yes” majority would take the day.

For Burgess-Cox, the result “is amazing. The number of people who voted and the number who voted for [the debt exclusion] is an affirmation for Belmont’s schools.” 

At the celebration at a supporter’s house midway between the Chenery and Wellington schools, Schreiber said the victory for the school was accomplished fully by the dozens of volunteers who did both the large and small activities; from knocking on doors, creating innovative videos, to those who spent Tuesday in the rain for hours holding signs at intersections and the precincts.

“We wouldn’t have won without them,” she said.

The pitch to the public was straight forward; a new school would resolve issues that were threatening the education of the district’s children, said Schreiber

“Everyone saw that we needed to do this. The problems in the school system whether it’s over enrollement or inadequate buildings is real and they need to be solved. And this is a really great solution, it’s well planned and vetted by the building committee and we had an unpresidented amount of community meeting to give their input,” said Schreiber, who praised the group for “kicking the tires” on the project to demonstrate to residents that the project has been thoroughly evalutated with a great deal of transparency. 

“Through the course of this campaign, all we’ve been doing is communicating what the building committee has done. And with 76 percent of the vote, the town agreed.” she said.

Nearly 1 In 5 Cast Early Ballots As Belmont Votes, Tuesday, Nov. 6

Photo: I voted.

Approximately 3,4oo residents took advantage of two weeks of early voting as Belmont prepares to cast ballots in the state general election today, Tuesday, Nov. 6.

The early balloting makes up nearly 20 percent of the roughly 17,100 registered voters in town and is already more than the 2,820 who voted in the town’s annual election in April, according to Town Clerk Ellen Cushman. 

Strong interest in the election was expected with a major debt exclusion vote to pay for a new 7-12 school building along with races for all of Massachusetts’ state and federal constitutional offices. 

Here is some basic fact on voting in Belmont today:


Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Who can vote

All legally registered voters affiliated with any political party and the unenrolled. 

You may be asked for ID

Did you fill out your town census form mailed earlier in the year? If you did not, then you are known as an “inactive” voter. Luckily, an “inactive” voter may still vote but first must provide adequate identification proving the voter’s identity and current place of residence. Usually a Massachusetts Driver’s License or State issued ID are sufficient.

Who is on the ballot?

Find out about the federal, state and country candidates running.

What are the ballot questions?

QUESTION 1: Patient-to-Nurse Limits

QUESTION 2: Commission on Limiting Election Spending and Corporate Rights

QUESTION 3: Transgender Anti-Discrimination

QUESTION 4: Approve a Debt Exclusion to construct a 7-12 school building. 

View a sample ballot here.


Most questions – including who is eligible to vote in Belmont – that arise during voting can be answered by the precinct warden at the polling station. Other questions should be addressed to the Town Clerk’s Office at 617-993-2600. 

Where do I vote?

Don’t know where to vote? Call the Town Clerk at 617-993-2600, or read or download the handy map included on this web page that includes a street directory.

Polling Places

  • Precinct 1; Belmont Memorial Library, Assembly Room, 336 Concord Ave.
  • Precinct 2: Belmont Town Hall, Selectmen’s Meeting Room, 455 Concord Ave.
  • Precinct 3: Beech Street Center (Senior Center), 266 Beech St.
  • Precinct 4: Daniel Butler School, 90 White St.
  • Precinct 5: Beech Street Center (Senior Center), 266 Beech St.
  • Precinct 6: Belmont Fire Headquarters, 299 Trapelo Rd.
  • Precinct 7: Burbank School Gym, 266 School St.
  • Precinct 8: Winn Brook School Gym, 97 Waterhouse Rd. (Enter at Cross St)

Letter To The Editor: A Yes Vote On Question 4 Is An Investment In Belmont’s Future

Photo: One of the modular units at the Burbank. 

To the editor:

If you’re like me, you really love living here in Belmont. I’ve yet to find another suburb of Boston that has quite the same small-town community feel. Belmont residents – from those who have lived here their entire lives to those who are newly arrived – know how special our community is, and understand the importance of preserving and nurturing what makes Belmont unlike any other town in Massachusetts. Investing in our community with a YES vote in support of the 7-12 school preserves and protects what has made Belmont so special all these years.

On Nov. 6, it is up to all of us to decide what kind of town we want to be moving forward. Do we want to preserve what we love about the Belmont community by investing in it, or do we want to stand idle with no sustainable solution to the increasing demands on our school system?  

The reality is this: No matter what happens on Nov. 6, our taxes are going up to address the crisis of overcrowding and the dire needs of our high school.  The decision we all have to make is where do I want my taxes going when it comes to our town’s education system?  

  • A NO vote means we’re paying an expected $247 million to rebuild and repair a crumbling, asbestos-filled high school building (that is not ADA compliant), along with overcrowded elementary schools and 48 modular trailers to house our children. 48 modulars! Are you wondering what 48 modulars look like? Take a walk behind the Burbank School and check out the monstrous structure that looms over half of the blacktop playspace. That is only four modulars. Imagine twelve times that number, all across our schools.
  • A YES vote is an investment of $213 million (that’s right, it’s projected to cost $34 million less than the costs of a NO vote) to solve our overcrowding crisis while also ensuring our children are learning in up-to-date schools that provide a safe, supportive, nurturing environment.

Still undecided? Stop by that Burbank School blacktop one morning around 8:35 a.m. No, not to see the modular trailers, but to see the children waiting to enter the school. These kids are incredible. They are truly special, just like our town. And these kids, along with all of Belmont’s current elementary school children, would be the first students to step into the new 7-12 school once it opens. Join me in looking back on Nov. 6 as the day that you decided to invest in these kids and the future of our incredible town.

I hope you will join me in voting YES on Tuesday, Nov. 6th.

Reed Bundy

School Street 

Town Meeting Member Precinct 1

Letter To The Editor: Yes On Question 3 To Preserve Transgender Rights

Photo: Transgender rights is on the state election ballot Nov. 6.

To the editor:

In 2016, the Massachusetts Legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker affirmed the rights of transgender individuals in Massachusetts to be treated like anyone else: to be free of discrimination in public places. As this issue directly affects the safety and well-being of people in my own family, I was reassured that we had chosen the right place to live. Belmont, in particular, has been a supportive community in which my wife and I can raise our children.

However, there are many in the state and from elsewhere who oppose the very existence of transgender people, and who refuse to acknowledge their need for dignity and safety. They formed a campaign to overturn the existing protections. Their reasoning is flawed and vicious and uses unsupported fears to demonize those who do not fit their strict idea of gender. They’ve raised money from like-minded anti-LGBTQ groups around the country to further their hateful agenda. To my fellow Belmont residents: I ask you to please not let those people win. Vote YES on Question 3 to preserve these basic rights for transgender people, including those in my family.

Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in biased attacks on LGBTQ people, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, and people of color. In an environment where the rhetoric and actions in Washington are accelerating discrimination, it is vital that the people of Massachusetts work to protect those who face systemic bias. A yes vote on Question 3 is one step we can take to do this, but it is only one of many. Reach out to your neighbors, your friends, and your family to increase understanding and compassion. Practice noticing and breaking down your own prejudices. Speak up when you witness someone spreading misinformation or biased statements about a whole group of people. 

We are all individuals seeking the space to raise our families, to feel safe in our communities, to help our children have better lives than we have. Let’s help create a world where everyone is able to do that without fear.

Jessie Bennett

Trowbridge Street

Town Meeting Member, Precinct 1

Early Voting Has Begun In Belmont; Final Day Friday, Nov. 2 [VIDEO]

Photo: Early voting has begun.

Thanks to the 2016 changes to the Massachusetts General Laws, any registered voter of Massachusetts may choose to cast a ballot for the State Election (candidates and four questions) before Election Day on Nov. 6. The law permits registered voters to cast ballots during the designated period of Early Voting, for 2018  between Oct. 22 and Friday, Nov. 2.  

“We are excited to offer this opportunity to all registered voters of Belmont, an expanded, accessible schedule of hours at one central location, Belmont Town Hall, for this “no excuse” vote-ahead option,” said Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman.

Early voting is available to every registered voter. Unlike absentee voting that is available in every election for only those voters who will be absent from Belmont, or have a physical disability preventing the voter from going to the polls or with a religious belief preventing the voter from going to the polls on Election Day.

No advance application is necessary to Vote Early in person; you can decide the date and time to cast your ballot at Town Hall during designated Early Voting hours. Once the voter has cast an Early Voting Ballot, that voter may not vote at the polls on Election Day or receive an Absentee Ballot. 

Only Belmont residents who are registered to vote by the Oct. 17 deadline are eligible to vote in this year’s State Election.  To register to vote, find out whether and where you are already registered, where to vote, visit the Secretary of State’s website.

To find out more about Absentee and Early Voting, visit the Belmont Town Clerk’s pages on the Town website.

Early Voting for Belmont Voters will be available ONLY at Town Hall, 455 Concord Ave., during the following schedule of dates and hours, no advance notice is required: 

  • Monday, Oct. 22; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 23; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 24;  8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 25;  8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Oct. 26; 8 a.m. to Noon
  • Saturday, Oct. 27; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 28; No Early Voting Hours
  • Monday, Oct. 29; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 30;  8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 31; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 1; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 2; 8 a.m. to Noon

“Pick the most convenient date and time for you and give Early Voting a try.  It’s always advisable to have your ID with you when you go to vote either on Election Day or for Early Voting,” said Cushman.

Written, signed Absentee Applications and Early Voting Applications that request us to mail you a ballot are also available, online at the Town Clerk’s webpage or at the Town Clerk’s office at Town Hall.  If you have questions or need additional information, email the Town Clerk’s office at or phone 617-993-2600