MY Position Hasn’t changed -I’m 100% in for a new LHS! where depends on the cost.

In December 2016 I posted the following:

In my view this may be one of the last chances Lowell has at getting a renovated with New Building – New High School or Renovated High School while receiving 74% -80% reimbursement from the State. So we have to do whatever needs to be done to get this accomplished.

In January when “renderings” for the proposed sites were given, I posted this:

With the latest 3 locations being considered and what looks like the Cawley site being not only the most practical but cost effective the Belvidere elected officials (most of our Councilor’s and a few School Committee members) are getting nervous. Based on the drawings offered the other day and what the final cost will be (which won’t be known for a few weeks) I’m leaning to fully supporting the Cawley location and layout in this rendering if it is the most cost effective.

In between I have tried to post information that pertained to the plusses and minuses of both the Cawley and Downtown location and in the process since both sides got and still get mad at me, figure I was treating each side fairly or at least attempting to in my view.

The “new” and”Final” numbers show we are no where near 74% -80% reimbursement closer to 52% – 64%

With the cost of busing added in for the Cawley Site and a residential tax increase of approx. $400 combined with a high school building that is more office park than suburban campus Cawley isn’t the same site as we were first promised.

You can blame Article 97 and the City for not knowing about it. It doesn’t matter at this point! The Cawley Site is now a 4 or 5 story building that looks like this. Green space and a campus look have vanished.

Since the start of this project, the Financial picture of the City has also become clearer and it has shown we are using reserves to fund our operations budget and that our liabilities exceed our assets. Our ‘Free Cash” is almost non-existent and the City has a verbal commitment to fund the schools by another $250,000 but doesn’t have the money in the current budget projections to do so right now. The Federal Gov’t has talked about cutting Educational Grants and Title I programs and the State is somewhere between $400 – $500 million short in revenue projections for the fiscal year ending June 30th AFTER the Governor already cut $98,000,000 in January!

I’m supporting downtown because of my own Fiscal concerns on what I think we has a city can afford, which I have been adamant about from the beginning!

I see a need to prepare to “settle” for Option 2

I’m not a huge fan of option 2 but if you look at it STRICTLY from a Financial View and I have a better sense after several conversations with longtime Lowell activist and political watchers, that the financial issue may be what this entire issue boils down to, Option 2 may be the only option that can get enough votes.

I don’t see Cawley at a $400 tax increase including busing cost getting 5 votes
I also don’t see Option 3 which involves Eminent Domain getting 5 votes or if it does, eminent domain itself getting 6 votes resulting in Lowell having to choose another option.

Which in my latest view after talking with many more knowledgable people, will be option 2. Both sides won’t be happy but neither side could claim a win!

If you look at Option 2 –
•Acreage 6.0 of 6.6 acres ,
•Gross Size 636.7k gsf (445.5k reno+191.2k add)
•Stories/Ht – Existing (63’), 1-5 Story (68’) Addtn’s

then Option 3 –
•Acreage – 7.4 = 6.0 of 6.6 acres +1.4 exp. lot
•Gross Size – 632.1k gsf (440.1k reno +192k add)
•Stories/Ht – Existing (63’), 1-5 Story (68’) Addtn’s

The Difference in total gross size and Acreage isn’t that far off. Since there is no acquisition or demolition cost for 75 Arcand required or no new building on that spot the cost is significantly lower.

The Manager already identified on WCAP yesterday that a Temporary Gym (like a prefab bubble) could go on city owned land next to the Ayotte Garage and that if needed there is some land abutting the Dentist Office that would fit modulars. Lowell would explore using the Tsongas for Home Court but might have to settle for the Rogers or Robinson which existed when I went to school in the 1980’s (Dan Shanahan this morning on City Life stated I wasn’t “NEW” and have been around LOL, I am a 1st time city candidate but in his view I’m OLD Lowell I guess!)

ANY elected School Committee member would need to be vigilant and a loud advocate for reviewing and doing public presentations showing step by step plans on the renovation and what exactly is being done to control disruption (which there is NO Doubt will occur) and show the safety methods in place to protect students and faculty. I’ve never had an issue being outspoken or an advocate (sometimes to my own detriment).


Foundation Budget -$183,238,362 Number of Students -15,616 Per Pupil Cost $11,734 Lowell currently has 839 Freshman students, IF let’s say 100 of the students who would be coming from 8th grade who would have gone to the High School City wide (currently Lowell has 1,104 8th graders) instead decided to go to the Tech (if there was room) – Lowell Catholics – BG – Chelmsford etc. that would reduce the FOUNDATION BUDGET – The base amount we receive for Chapt. 70 from the state by approx. $1,173,400 and require the School Dept. to possibly make cuts in staff due to the loss of 100 students.


Published by Lowell School Committeeman Gerry Nutter

I've been interested in Schools since I worked at the Greater Lowell Tech and substitute taught in Dracut. I've followed the finances and issues with the Lowell School for the past 8 years while blogging and contributing to Saturday Morning Live! Currently serving my 1st term.

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  1. Gerry, I just want to point out that tax increase for option 4/5 doesn’t cover the infrastructure upgrades as well and that would be at least another $40-50 per avg tax bill.

    1. Actually those added cost do NOT add that much – The present Cawley 5 Story site calls for 7.75% tax increase.. $293 additional tax dollars per year to the “average” homeowner.

      Adding in field replication ($1.97M) and infrastructure ($3.85M) are one-time costs that would increase Cawley 5 to approx. $155.82M. The average tax increase would be 8.0% and approx. $304 a year instead of $293.

  2. re: “For Teddy”: There may be room at GLTECH. The issue seems to be that GLTECH’s admissions formula has been weighted to increase its MCAS scores, which results in higher rates of admission for kids from more-affluent-yet-still-blue-collar Dracut. The rates of GLTHS enrollment from Dracut are unusually high, so that 40% of Dracut’s public high school student body is in GLTECH. Meanwhile, Dracut’s new high school is 25% empty, lack of students.

    It is not entirely true that 100 students shifting to GLTECH would hurt Lowell, because as Victor Olson explained to me, Lowell’s total Chapter 70 aid pool is calculated based on the combination of the Lowell and GLTECH districts. However it is true that a rapid shift of students could cause layoffs. Shifting 100 students over 3 years to GLTECH shouldn’t really be seen as a big deal; management can deal with minor changes through staff attrition and it would help both Lowell and Dracut address overcrowding/undercrowding issues.

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