The Greater Lowell Technical High School's $65 million rehabilitation project has reached the 11th hour.
And on Dec. 11, the voters of Dracut will decide whether the extensive renovation -- already approved by the other member communities of Lowell, Dunstable and Tyngsboro -- will move forward or be abandoned.
Dracut, which sends the most students (429) to the school after Lowell (2,112), is being asked to foot $3.1 million of the estimated $15 million not being covered by the state.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority has agreed to fund up to $50 million toward the cost, but that's contingent on all four member communities' agreeing to pay the remainder.
Dracut's loan -- in the form of a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion -- would be repaid over 20 years. The final cost, at the current attractive interest rates, will be approximately $5 million.
According to figures supplied by GLTHS, the owner of a single-family home valued at $277,000 will pay an extra $1.17 in 2014, followed by yearly increases of $18.04, $17.64, $21.80, and $26.99. Payments gradually decrease after 2023.
We know Dracut has been conservative when it comes to finances, but we also know citizens join forces to pass a debt exclusion for $60 million renovation to the 50-year-old high school.
Greater Lowell is 40-year-old facility in dire need of repairs. Doing rehab work piecemeal instead of through a comprehensive project could easily surpass the $15 million the four communities are being asked to assume.
The technical school fills a need not available at the high school. Without GLTHS, DHS would have to assimilate another 429 students into its current 1,150 population.
We believe the rehab project is worth it for all four communities, and we urge Dracut voters on Dec. 11 to say "yes."