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Sometimes Less is More: The Great Debate

Flyers+sent+out+through+the+mail%2C+promoting+the+one+new+school+proposal.
Flyers sent out through the mail, promoting the one new school proposal.

Flyers sent out through the mail, promoting the one new school proposal.

Quinn Comprosky

Quinn Comprosky

Flyers sent out through the mail, promoting the one new school proposal.


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If you haven’t noticed the signs all around town, people across Ipswich are divided. There has been great debate on whether or not the town needs new elementary schools. It is agreed that both schools need to be repaired; the question is how will that be accomplished. One proposal is to build a new elementary school altogether, and the other is to keep both schools and repair them individually. The question is up to the residents of Ipswich to decide.

Proponents for one school side claim that one school is the fiscally responsible one to make. To build one new school would cost $69.4M and the cost to renovate both schools would cost $74.6M. Although there is only a $5.2M difference, that number is misleading. The state has generously granted the town $27.1M to help build one school. The money isn’t allowed to be used on any other project. Also, if the notion doesn’t pass, the town wouldn’t be able to apply for another grant to be used on two different projects if need be. Yes, taxes can be raised but not to the great extent that will be needed to repair both schools. In addition, building, grounds maintenance, and overall operational costs will be far less for one versus two elementary schools.

Both schools are very old. Over the past years there have been numerous repairs to both; despite this the town hasn’t been able to keep up with the new standards. For example, the Winthrop Gym is 4,000 sq. ft. below the required Massachusetts School Building Authority code and the Doyon School is 18,000 sq ft. under the necessary space to “support the current education plan” (Ipswich Annual Report). Winthrop has tried to help this lack of space problem by bringing in a modular classroom, but that was in 1987, and it’s the 21st century now. It is apparent that both schools are not up to date. As Ipswich High Senior Eva Trainer said, “The kids need a 21st century learning environment that helps prepare them for the future. I mean, isn’t that the point of school?”.

There is a lack of technology and resources throughout the Ipswich Elementary schools and it’s hard for teachers to keep up. Another great point brought up is the impact of the environment. Environmental science is a growing area of learning due to our cultural challenges. With Willowdale State Forest in our backyard, the Doyon School location is perfect for hands on learning with the environment. Using the forest as their classroom teachers would be able to get their students interested in different fields.

Finally, another crux raised is the community aspect. A point I have heard many times from my peers is the division of Doyon and Winthrop kids. From the inception of our elementary school years, the school rivalry is created. To this day “Win-throwups” and “Doyon Dummies” are name thrown disrespectfully at each other. This is because kids are separated by where they live. From first hand experience, I have to say nothing is weirder than the sixth grade mixer.  The stench of pre-teen angst looms throughout the gym; kids are silent, and you tend to never leave your closest friend’s side. If you eliminate both schools and have one school, kids would be together from K-12. This long of a relationship is very rare and would help build strong communal bonds.

In opposition, members of the two school side stress their own thoughts about the community. Another student of Ipswich High states, “The rivalry of Doyon and Winthrop is one of Ipswich’s staples. It is the lifeblood of the town”. It has also been stated that getting rid of the names of the schools would hurt the family members of that aforementioned name and ‘trash’ their legacy. Also, many who are opposed to the one school state that walking is an issue. Most parents who live near downtown live there because they want the school within walking distance of their house. However, a small population walks out of necessity. Lastly, the final point that is brought up and put on many signs is that a small town shouldn’t have a “mega-school”. They believe a town of nearly 13,000 (2010 U.S Census) shouldn’t have a school of 750 children. Kids would get lost easily in such a big school and making friends would be an issue.

In my opinion, I believe that it is necessary for one school to be built. The construction of a new 21st Century School would help prepare kids for their future while also helping the town as a whole. To quote David Comprosky “We moved to Ipswich because of the High School. We heard so many great things about the education and extracurriculars, so we knew we wanted to put you guys (my sister and I) in the system.” Creation of the new elementary school would help raise the property values of the whole town, which benefits everyone. The use of the term “mega-school” is not appropriate for this situation. My Father, who grew up in a suburb of Troy, NY, had a school population of upwards 2,000 people. Now that is a mega school where you could easily get lost in. An elementary school upwards of 750 is not. From personal experience I can say that our district has its way with keeping the tight knit community feel.

On the night of Tuesday, May 8th, the vote to get this proposal on the ballot at the next vote failed by a total of 38 votes. It seems like four years of hardwork and the taxpayers dollars just went down the drain, but there is some hope. Next Tuesday, May 15th is the day of the Town Election. Since the ballots were printed months ago, residents may still have the opportunity to vote on the issue. If the idea for a one school gets the simple majority, the Board of Selectmen can make the case for a special town meeting. However, as on the morning of Friday the 11th, the Ipswich School Committee stated that it will honor the town meeting vote. Not many members were fond of a revote, even though it would likely benefit them, but nothing is set in stone yet. For whichever which way this goes my advice to whomever is reading this still stands true: If you can vote, vote. If you can’t quite yet, make sure your eligible family members vote. Speak your mind and make sure it’s heard.

 

Quinn Comprosky
Flyers sent out through the mail, promoting the one new school proposal.

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Sometimes Less is More: The Great Debate