School district agenda item not recommended by Rochester Select Board

Apr 24, 2024


ROCHESTER — Ahead of town meetings in Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester, Old Rochester Regional School District officials have been pitching their plans for taking on debt to improve facilities in district schools.

An item on all three town meeting agendas will see the school district ask for approval to take on $12 million of debt to “pay costs of making various capital improvements and repairs” at Old Rochester Regional Junior and Senior High Schools.

The Marion Select Board voted to recommend the item at an April 2 meeting. The Mattapoisett Select Board has not yet held a vote on the item. But at its April 22 meeting, the Rochester Select Board unanimously voted against recommending the item.

“We don’t know what it’s really funding,” said Rochester Select Board member Brad Morse. “There are some ideas out there.”

Select Board member Adam Murphy said he hadn’t received information regarding what company would be in charge of the projects, if there has been any public comment on the matter and if the projects were part of a five or ten year plan.

“I haven’t seen or been presented with the study that was done for the need of any of these projects,” Murphy said “I’m told they are estimates — Until a project goes out to bid we don’t have the hard number.”

All three Tri-Town communities must vote to approve the agenda item at their respective town meetings in order for the process to continue.

At a Marion Select Board meeting Old Rochester Regional School District Superintendent Mike Nelson said that some of the proposed improvements include entry point and HVAC upgrades.

“This is a big decision,” said Murphy. “It's problematic for me to make a decision to support something that I haven't seen any supporting documentation for at all.”

Old Rochester Regional School Committee member Joe Pires said that the potential projects are in “good intention,” to attempt to maintain the safety of students and staff.

Pires voted against the proposal to borrow $12 million for facility improvements and repairs at a March 28 Old Rochester Regional School Committee meeting.

“Once we started to discover and research, I felt as though there was not substantial information presented to justify moving forward,” said Pires.

Residents of Rochester will have the opportunity to vote on this item and others at Town Meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 13 at Rochester Memorial School.