School officials gear up for November vote on bond

School officials gear up for November vote on bond

Turf field is in the plans

SCITUATE – Parents, school administrators, and students of the Scituate school system gathered on the lawn of North Scituate Elementary School last Friday for a discussion of the schools’ proposed $4.9 million bond.

The discussion was the first in a series of presentations planned before the town will be asked to vote on the bond Nov. 7.

School Committee Chairman Brian LaPlante said the bond would help a “historically underfunded” school system.

Behind him were two easels displaying photos of dilapidated school bathrooms, broken lockers, and school deficiencies. Next to the photos were quotes from elementary and high school students.

“Our bathrooms need to be upgraded,” one North Scituate Elementary School 5th-grader wrote. “There is a sink detaching from the wall.”

A 10th-grader at Scituate High School wrote, “I don’t understand why we have to go to another town for our own home games.”

Those comments echoed the 2016 Rhode Island Department of Education statewide facilities survey completed by Jacobs Engineering, which outlined millions of dollars of deficiencies in Scituate’s school facilities.

“This is 40 years overdue,” said Annie Oster, president of the Scituate Youth Association.

Oster said SYA “would like to see the bond pass,” and see the community come together for its children.

“That is who it’s for, after all,” she said.

Approximately $1.9 million of the bond will go toward upgrading school facilities, including bathroom repairs, ramp installations, and floor tile replacements.

The other $3 million of the bond will go to a synthetic turf field and a 400-meter track (roughly a quarter-mile long).

“Artificial turf is not a luxury at this point,” LaPlante said, in defense of the new athletic field.

John Chaffin, sales manager for R.A.D Sports, said a proper field and track provides students with a healthy outlet.

Synthetic turf fields have a few added benefits:

“You can play on it all year round,” Chaffin said. And, he added, “It is much safer.”

Chaffin said synthetic turf is less prone to divots and ditches, which could mean fewer twisted ankles and torn ACLs.

Parents in the community have questioned the safety of toxic chemicals used in synthetic turf. Though the Environmental Protection Agency has yet to complete its multi-agency report on the use of recycled tire crumb rubber on playing fields and playgrounds, studies conducted by other American and international agencies do not find a direct health risk for users.

“The field at the high school is in disrepair,” LaPlante said. “It’s uneven, grass does not grow...we need to do better.”

LaPlante added that residents without children also stand to gain from the school bond.

“There is a direct correlation between the quality of the schools and home values,” LaPlante said.

Addressing another concern of homeowners, LaPlante estimated that the net impact on taxes would be neutral. An existing loan being paid off by the town is slated to retire in 2018 and, LaPlante said, “the spend annually will be less” on this proposed bond.

Ultimately, Supt. Lawrence Filippelli said, “Our goal is to make the best system for your kids.”

Filippelli encouraged residents to attend two more public meetings for information on the bond issue, the first of which will be held Oct. 16 at Scituate Middle School at 7 p.m. and the second on Oct. 23 at Hope Elementary School at 7 p.m.

Comments

There is a field at the high school use that one. A fancy field is not needed when the school is falling apart. Backwards priorities.

What is needed is a federal investigation into where the school budget has been spent. If the school leadership spent the maintenance money elsewhere we need to know and not just give them more money to mismanage.