AUBURN, Mass. – Representatives from the Bay Path school are on a full-court press to promote the addition/renovation building project, making their presence felt in Auburn on Monday night.
Supporters of the project attended Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting in Auburn, which is one of 10 area towns to vote in a special election on Thursday, Oct. 4, to decide whether the Southern Worcester County Regional Vocational School District can borrow $73 million for renovations and additions at Bay Path Vocational Technical High School.
The special election for the Charlton school project is scheduled from noon to 8 p.m. at Auburn High School. The other towns voting are Charlton, Dudley, North Brookfield, Oxford, Paxton, Rutland, Southbridge, Spencer and Webster.
At Monday’s selectmen meeting, supporters of the project passed out pamphlets, which state that the high school serves 1,074 students in a facility designed to house 850.
“Severe overcrowding has resulted in the creation of additional classroom space within vocational shops,” the pamphlet states. “The building envelope is deteriorated with water and air infiltration, and the roof is in need of replacement.
“Bay Path has been cited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges for inadequate academic and vocational spaces for students, and if conditions remain the same, the school may face a loss of accreditation,” according to the pamphlet.
The project would provide a 50,000-square-foot addition while replacing a 45-year-old roof, the heating and ventilation system, windows and much more.
The total cost is projected at $73.8 million, with a $46.5 million reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Association (MSBA).
Auburn’s share would be $3,589,631. The estimated tax impact on the average Auburn home valued at $222,492 is $8.49 for fiscal year 2014, with a maximum annual cost of $26.09.
The promotional pamphlet states that adding/repairing Bay Path will have to happen in the next 5 to 20 years, regardless of the Oct. 4 voting outcome. Supporters say that if the district doesn’t approve the project, it will lose the financial assistance from the MSBA, which means the district towns would be 100 percent responsible for the cost.
Opponents don't think the renovations and additions are necessary, and they don’t want to pay millions of dollars in taxes.
The measure doesn’t have to pass in every town to move forward; it needs a majority vote across the 10 towns.