, Newburyport, MA

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April 15, 2014

Upgrade to athletics facilities to be discussed

Funding plan to go before Town Meetings for voter approval


The money is part of an $800,000 bond set to expire that was used to replace the middle school roof. These are funds that “were already within the school revenue stream,” so the district is simply looking to reauthorize the amount into a different area within the budget, Labrecque said.

The $700,000 would be combined with $1.4 million on a second warrant article. Labrecque proposes using revenues from student athletic fees to make the annual pay down on this debt from borrowing.

“If you are a resident without a student paying the fee, this has no effect on you as a taxpayer,” Labrecque said.

The third revenue prong of his plan is $495,000 within the district’s omnibus budget transferred from a supplemental reserve account the state established when Pentucket faced some fiscal troubles in 2006. Statutorily, this money can only be used for capital projects on the regional campus.

The first two articles require approval in all three towns; the omnibus budget needs just two of three towns.

Groveland’s Doug Gelina is standing firm as the lone member of the School Committee objecting to the plan. He argues that voters were promised in 2012 that the $700,000 was all they would be tapped for to fix the track and tennis courts. “Then this new financing was proposed and I was outvoted 8 to 1,” said Gelina, calling the move a break in trust with taxpayers.

Gelina contends that using fees to pay for a project that only benefits some sports is unfair, because of the wide range in fee amounts students pay (between $200 to $800 annually depending on the sport) and the fact that some won’t benefit from the upgrade because they play indoor sports.

Gelina would rather see the $700,000 applied to something educational in which the whole student body could benefit, such as purchasing mobile tablet computers for every student in every class.

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