The North Reading high school/middle school building project passed at Special Town Meeting with a two-thirds majority vote. The Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee and School Committee unanimously recommended the project.
The turnout at Special Town Meeting Monday was enough to fill the auditorium, gym and cafeteria at the high school. Residents started lining up before 7 p.m. and continued to register until 7:45 p.m.
The 7 p.m. start time was delayed until 8 p.m. due to the turnout. Still, the meeting was delayed again due to a dispute over whether to allow the Secondary Schools Building Committee (SSBC) to give a 40-minute presentation. After a count, the presentation was allowed -- 697 residents voted for it, 177 were opposed.
Either way, school officials were pleased with how many residents attended the meeting.
“It’s great to see such a large turnout,” said School Committee Chairman Gerry Venezia.
Superintendent Kathy Willis spoke of the importance of technology in the new schools.
“Without it, our schools are becoming museums of the past,” said Willis. “The future is here and there is no turning back,” she continued.
If the project passes at the Special Election Saturday, the total project cost will be $107.7 million. The MSBA will reimburse 51.49 percent of eligible costs. The new high school is projected to open in 2014, and the middle school in 2015. The cost would be bonded for 25 years. The town would bond $50 million at 4 percent starting this year.
"The tax rate increase will be 10.75 percent. The average home value of $450,100 will see an increase of $700," said SSBC member Janene Imbriano.
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