(Saugus, MA) May 24, 2017 – The residents of Saugus will realize a financial benefit of the Town’s highest-ever S&P AA+/Stable bond rating when they have the opportunity to vote in a June 20, 2017 election to support and invest in a new 21st century education plan and Middle-High School District-Wide Master Plan Solution that will continue to prioritize education in the community.
“This is the highest bond rating in Saugus’ history, which is a strong indicator of the Town’s credit worthiness,” said Town Manager, Scott Crabtree. “Supporting this project and the educational plan’s vision to change the way education is delivered will help Saugus achieve its goal of becoming a top-rated, Level 1 School District in Massachusetts.”
The initiative would create a grades 6-12, new Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Middle-High School which includes a multipurpose athletic field and outdoor track; the current Belmonte Middle School would be established as an Upper Elementary School for grades 3-5; and the Veterans Memorial Elementary School would become a Lower Elementary School for Pre-K to grade 2. The recently earned S&P AA+ bond rating will save the taxpayers of Saugus an estimated $7.2 million in savings over the life of the bond for the new Middle-High School which includes a multipurpose athletic field and outdoor track and additional construction. The sound financial practices of the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, and Town Meeting, as well as, Town department heads and employees, have contributed to the Town’s consistent annual free cash and significant stabilization reserves, ultimately resulting in the Town’s vastly improved bond rating.
On Tuesday, June 20, 2017, the residents of Saugus will be asked to vote to approve two ballot questions. The residents would need to approve both ballot questions for either of the initiatives to move forward.
The first question is to support the new Middle-High School Building which includes a multipurpose athletic field and outdoor track. For this project, the MSBA, as the Town’s financial partner, will reimburse the Town at a minimum rate of 53.32% (expected to increase) of eligible approved project costs. When a residential taxpayer invests an estimated 30% into the grades 6-12, new MSBA Middle-High School which includes a multipurpose athletic field and outdoor track, in turn an estimated 70% will be reimbursed and/or supported by the Town’s financial and community partners.
The grades 6-12, new MSBA Middle-High School which includes a multipurpose athletic field and outdoor track and District-Wide Master Plan Solution, including the construction renovations to Belmonte School and Veterans Memorial School, would require Saugus residents with a single-family home assessed value of $300,000 to invest a daily average of 98¢ over the life of the bond – less than any size cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts.
Average single-family homes with a value assessed at $375,000 and below make up 70% of the Town’s residential taxpayers. Average single-family homes with a value assessed between $250,000 and $350,000 make up approximately 55% of the residential taxpayer. Saugus taxpayers would realize a gradual increase in their taxes being invested into the total project in the first several years of the bond. At approximately seven years, the financing would reach its highest amount and then begin to gradually decline. The taxpayers should be aware that existing debt exclusions that are rolling off have been factored into the financing estimates.
The second question on the ballot is the District-Wide Master Plan Solution, which is comprised of the renovations and improvements at the Belmonte School (which will be grades 3-5) and Veterans Memorial School (Pre-K through grade 2). The School Building Committee recently unanimously approved a total project budget investment of $186,129,460, with an investment of $160,720,553 for a proposed grades 6-12 new MSBA Middle-High School which includes a multipurpose athletic field and outdoor track. In addition, this Master Plan would include an investment of $25,408,907, which is a Town project, not through the MSBA. Pursuant to the School Building Committee’s project approval, the Town share would be an estimated $118,863,420, of the total project. This investment would be bonded over a 30-year period.
As an example, the homeowner of an average single family home value assessed at $300,000 would contribute an additional estimated $61.34 in 2018; an estimated $94.84 in the second year, 2019; an estimated $144.89 in the third year, 2020; and an estimated $224.25 in the fourth year, 2021; with the maximum contribution of $433.12 in year seven. After this, the contribution would begin to gradually decline over the life of the bond.
“Endorsing this vision and the School District’s Plan will provide equal, equitable opportunities for students to access educational resources and reach their highest potential,” explained Crabtree.
In addition, this will allow the School District to: maintain accreditation with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; resolve inadequacies related to outdated lighting, technology, and power systems; and address health and safety issues such as deficiencies in fire protection, sprinkler systems, and ADA accessibility including structural, mechanical, and code issues.
“Giving our students and staff the resources and facilities that achieve the vision of our Town’s educational plan is critical,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. David DeRuosi. “This solution will facilitate a shift from teacher-centered to student-centered instruction, and an emphasis on the critical thinking, communication and technology skills needed to enhance 21st century skills our students need to be successful.”
“This solution will enhance our children’s education and change the way education is valued and delivered in the community,” said Jeanette Meredith, Chair of the School Committee and Saugus High School Project Building Committee. “This new school is not just a building. It is part of a comprehensive, district-wide solution to the issues facing the school district. This capital plan will address our educational and structural issues and will save the Town immensely in maintenance costs.”
Again, residents would need to approve both ballot questions for either of the initiatives to move forward.
About The Town of Saugus
The Town of Saugus, Massachusetts, is a family-friendly, historic neighborhood Town located along the north shore, ten miles north of Boston. First settled in 1629, Saugus is home to historic sites, top-tier public services, and a thriving business community. Strong community support, a forward-thinking approach to town government, rich recreational opportunities, affordable choices, and easy access to all the amenities that Boston has to offer – they all contribute to make Saugus a Town where businesses flourish and families make their home.