WickedLocal Cape Codder: Voters OK Nauset Refit by Wide Margins
WELLFLEET — Voters in the Nauset district's four towns have approved the $132 million proposal to upgrade and expand the high school, results from the towns show.
Voters marked two ballots on Tuesday: one to approve the project and a second to approve a debt exclusion bond to finance the refit.
In Orleans, the renovation was approved 1,650 in favor to 585 opposed, and the debt exclusion passed 1,619 to 633.
In Eastham, 1,559 voters favored the project versus 415, and the debt exclusion passed 1,479 to 476.
In Brewster, 2,160 backed the renovation versus 1,456 who didn’t, and on the debt exclusion 2,158 voted in favor and 1,415 against.
Wellfleet voters approved the plan by a vote of 952 to 121, and the debt exclusion 903 to 159.
Polls in the four towns were open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and a simple majority total across the four towns was required for approval.
The project is scheduled to receive $36 million from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, bringing the total amount the towns are responsible for to roughly $95 million. Each town’s share is calculated by student enrollment.
Wellfleet voters Nicole and Damian Parkington have three elementary school children who will enter the Nauset high school in four years.
“We have a while, but by the time it’s done, we’ll be ready to go,” Nicole Parkington told a reporter at the polling place – the senior center. It is important that by then her kids have a school that is not falling apart, she said.
“Even the kids that are there now are having issues with falling ceilings. It needs to be renovated,” she said.
Her husband, Damian, while in support of the project, wished there were more community involvement early on.
“I wish there was more public outreach at the inception of the discussion, especially School Choice and how that plays into the outlining communities,” he said.
The School Choice program emerged as a flash point for the controversial renovation; groups of taxpayers across the district believed a smaller school, just for district children, should have been created at a lower cost.
The school proposal voted today will create a facility for 900-plus students; 600 reside in the district, and at present there are 83 tuition students from Provincetown and Truro, and 281 School Choice students from other towns.
John Wolf, is a member of the town Marina Advisory Committee and one of four moderators of Wellfleet Community Space on Facebook. While having no personal stakes in the matter, coming out to vote was the right thing to do, he said.
“Nauset Regional is one of our most important assets, and especially now, unexpectedly, so many younger families have come out here during the pandemic and taken up residence,” he said.
It is also more cost effective to use the state’s grant money and renovate the existing facility, making it available for students who come in from different districts, rather than making a smaller school, he said.
Mothers who have children who graduated from the Nauset high school years ago also came to the senior center to show their support.
Elaine McIlroy has lived in Wellfleet for 40 years and had two children graduate from the high school.
“We’ve experienced the kids sitting in the basement rooms with no windows,” McIlroy said. Many people she knows have worked on the project over the years, and she believes they’re responding to a real need in the community.
“Especially now how important ventilation systems are in schools,” she said.
Mother Holly LeBart, whose children graduated from the program years ago, voted in support of many of her friend’s children who are enrolled.
Many community members who retired in Wellfleet also came to the polls.
"The kids deserve the best people can provide for them,” said Carol Symanski, who is retired and originally from western Massachusetts.
The Cape Codder contributed to this report, which was updated March 31 to reflect Wellfleet's results.