My name is Rene E. Dion Jr. (Butch) and I graduated from the Greater Lowell Technical High School in 1984 from the graphics program.
Twenty-eight years later on Sept. 25, I was elected to the School Council at GLTHS. On Nov. 5, Dracut residents approved a warrant article to allow a special election on Dec. 11 to address the Greater Lowell Technical High School renovation/repair project. As a resident of Dracut and in my new role at the school, I made sure I attended the Dracut Town meeting on Nov. 5. By Nov. 7, I became the chairman for The Friends of GLTHS.
Over the next five weeks we had three missions. They were to educate people about the GLTHS project, get as many people out on Dec. 11 to vote yes, and to make sure residents are aware what is at stake for the town of Dracut.
A yes vote means Dracut is agreeing to pay for its portion of the project -- $3,124,909 before interest. This $65-million project will have a state contribution of approximately $50 million (76.84 percent). The average household (home value of $277,000) will see about a $27.70 increase in their taxes in fiscal year 2018 and decreasing each year thereafter.
If this doesn't pass, then Dracut will be required to fund their portion of the critical-need repairs. The total cost of that is $32 million, one which 20.79 percent is Dracut's share; that equals $6.3 million before interest. This amount would cost us on average double and we'll only get half of what the school
Even though the school is in Tyngsboro, it is a high-school option for more than 420 Dracut students. Please vote yes on Dec. 11.
Please visit our website for more information: https://sites.google.com/site/friendsofglths/ or look us up on Facebook/Friends of GLTHS.
RENE E. DION JR.
The Greater Lowell Technical High School is the largest school of its kind in the United States, something Dracut, Lowell, Tyngsboro and Dunstable can be very proud of.
On Tuesday, Dec. 11, voters of Dracut will decide whether to support the debt exclusion for the repair/renovation project at the Greater Lowell Technical High School.
I have always believed voters should have all the information they need so they can vote with their eyes wide open. It has been stated the improvements are necessary, and will make for a safer and more efficient and effective school and learning environment. I can't think of a person I have talked to who doesn't agree the project is necessary. What is at issue is their ability to pay.
During these difficult economic times, people are going to vote with their checkbook rather than what they know they should be doing. You can't fault people for this; these are challenging times.
When making major decisions, I construct a list of the pros and cons. It gives you the capability to move forward and take action in the right direction.
Delaying this project will cost taxpayers more money because the state reimbursement rate of 76.84 percent may be lost if the project isn't approved. Waiting for a better economy equates to higher borrowing and construction costs. Vocational competence is critical to the economic health of our nation. To continue to compete, we have to invest. The building's condition and the availability of the state's reimbursement make right now the ideal time to move forward.
The people of Dracut have a very proud tradition of investing in its town and in its educational system for the betterment of all our citizens. I respectfully ask the voters of Dracut once again for their continued dedication and commitment.
Please vote yes on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
On Tuesday, Dec. 11, Dracut voters will be asked to make a decision to accept or reject a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion.
The reason for this special election is the Greater Lowell Technical High School's $65.3 million renovation. The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) reimbursement rate is 76.84 percent or approximately $50 million, leaving a balance of about $15 million, of which Dracut's cost will be $3.1 million.
The first question voters should ask is what value does GLTHS bring to Dracut? I am a 1979 graduate of GLTHS, a small-business owner and have received a master's degree in education. Many of my schoolmates are also owners or employees of local businesses within the school district.
For two generations all of these taxpaying citizens have been served extremely well by GLTHS. The next time you have a contractor or service technician working in your home or place of business, please ask if they graduated from GLTHS, and my guess would be they would say "yes."
The second question to ask: Is this a good business proposition for the homeowner? If the tax levy is passed, the average $277,000 home in Dracut will be asked to pay from $17 to $30 annually over the 20-year bonding period to fund Dracut's share of the project. If Dracut does not approve the debt exclusion, MSBA's 77 percent reimbursement rate will be withdrawn.
GLTHS is in need of approximately $32 million in critical improvements to the physical plant. Dracut would still be responsible for paying approximately $6.6 million without any MSBA reimbursement.
In these tough fiscal times asking for any tax increase, no matter how small, must be given great consideration. So I ask the Dracut voters to consider these two questions. Is GLTHS an asset to the community? Is it a sound proposition to accept a 77 percent reimbursement from the state to provide renovations to a 40-year-old facility, versus receiving no reimbursement and still having the obligation to pay a repair bill?
DAVID J. NORKIEWICZ