The Winthrop Is Worth It committee lists as its mission: To inform the public about the benefit of building a new middle/high school for our students and the entire community.
Carolyn Gagnon, one of the founders of the committee that is chaired by Marcie Moline, said the group has been meeting weekly as it hopes to convince Winthrop residents to vote “Yes” for the new middle/high school project in the Nov. 5 election.
“We support the proposed new middle/high school and we are trying to educate the community about the benefits not only to our students but to all citizens,” said Gagnon, a parent of two children in the Winthrop school system and a graduate of Winthrop High School.
After several months of community input and public meetings, the School Building Assistance Committee put forth three (school renovation and new school construction) options and the option receiving the most votes was the construction of a new middle/high school on the site of Winthrop High School. The building would have separate entrances for middle and high school students.
“I think what people might not understand is that we need to spend money either way,” said Gagnon. “This project didn’t start out of a ‘let’s build a new school project.’ “It started out as a renovation project almost three years ago.
“The School Building Assistance Committee’s mandate was to identify the repairs needed in the schools and they came to the conclusion that these renovations were going to be pretty costly and that it may indeed be more cost effective to build new schools,” said Gagnon. “They presented three options to the community and the choice was to build new schools.”
Gagnon said her concern with renovations is that “You can sink all this money into renovations but you’re still stuck with almost 50-year-old buildings.”
The committee is hosting coffee hours and members are visiting the Senior Center and the Winthrop Housing Authority to get their message to residents.
“Our meetings are open so we hope residents will join us,” said Gagnon. “We have a fundraiser Tuesday (Oct. 1) at La Siesta who will be donating a portion of their profits to the committee. We’re also selling discount cards for $10 that you can use at Winthrop businesses.”
Gagnon said a school system is “the bread and butter of a community.”
“To really be part of a community, you have to have all different groups,” said Gagnon. “The school system attracts and maintain strong families and those families are the people that give back to the community as well. They go to the local businesses, they support the charity events, they support the town. My fear is that if this proposal doesn’t pass, not only will we lose some really strong families in town, but when you have other young families looking to buy a home, they’re going to compare and if we don’t invest in our school system, they’re going to go somewhere else. If it’s Winthrop or Wakefield, they’re going to choose Wakefield.”
Gagnon said town officials and other residents have attended committee meetings including Council President Peter Gill, Councilors Craig Mael, Nick DelVento, and James Letterie, School Committee member Maryalice Sharkey, and Jeffrey Turco, candidate for council president.
“What we need most,” said Gagnon, “is for people to come out and vote yes on November 5.”
Gagnon said residents can contact the committee at [email protected].