Questions Remain – Is the School Department ready to vacate the E.B. Newton School?

There appears to be some mixed signals being sent from all parties regarding the School Department’s willingness and ability to leave its administrative headquarters at the E.B. Newton School by the previously announced deadline of August 31, 2010.

It was easy to reach this conclusion following Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, during which the matter was debated and more questions than answers were generated. Most fundamental are concerns over whether this move makes practical and fiscal sense.

The immediate matter at hand is the August 31 deadline the School Department has been given to vacate the E.B. Newton School — a deadline that appears to lack the necessary planning to make it worthwhile.

The condition after the school administrators vacate the building, specifically whether it should be mothballed or not, remains a question. If it is not mothballed, then how much money will the Town save — certainly not the $100,000 being talked about.

Moreover, to our knowledge, another question remains unanswered: Where will the School Department move its operations? There has been some exploratory work done on where to locate the new headquarters, but nothing definite has been done. In the preliminary analysis the only school space available is at the Winthrop Middle School and this will cost almost $500,000 to renovate the space. And if the school offices are to be located at Town Hall, then Town Hall will have to be open on Fridays. These are the issues that must be resolved and both sides must work together, especially with the looming deadline quickly approaching and if the maximum savings can be realized.

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