East Longmeadow meets about new high school plans after smoke delays school day

“This is going to affect a lot of fixed-income seniors who have no disposable income left,” said another East Longmeadow resident.
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 9:38 PM EDT
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EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - Less than two months ahead of the town election, when voters will decide the future of East Longmeadow High School, residents still have questions about what to do with the aging high school. Particularly when it comes to the cost of a new one.

“I know there’s a lot wrong with the school. But I am so worried about seniors on a fixed income, how they talk about building costs going up, costs going up for everyone. How are our seniors on a fixed income going to be able to substantiate this?” said a concerned East Longmeadow resident.

“This is going to affect a lot of fixed-income seniors who have no disposable income left,” said another East Longmeadow resident.

The 177-million project will rebuild the high school which has been plagued by longstanding water damage and falling ceiling tiles.

A state funding grant will cover about 35 percent of the project’s cost.

“A portion of our state taxes is where that $63 million came from. If we saw no to this project, some other town is going to get it and you’re still going to get it. It might as well be us,” said one East Longmeadow resident.

On November 7 the fate of the project lies on the ballot, with both voters deciding to approve both high school and pool projects.

This conversation came just hours after a motor inside the art room smoked up inside the school shortly before school started Thursday morning.

“The motor was struggling to make the fan bell move and unfortunately that caused the motor to seize up and smoke and that set our fire alarm off. Firefighters came and checked out everything and cleared the smoke out of the room and gave us the ok to come back in around 15, 20, 25 minutes,” said East Longmeadow Superintendent, Gordon Smith.

While firefighters responded to the scene, students and staff were greeted with smoke when they arrived at school.

“We were a little delayed coming in but we were able to have a full day and while the fire has some convinced a new school is necessary, others aren’t so sure,” said one resident.

“It’s just tough on seniors to get them to say ‘I’m going to support this.’ Our grandkids are finishing up and we’re on a fixed income. We have no vested interest in this and our taxes keep going up and up and up,” said another concerned East Longmeadow Resident.

East Longmeadow’s election will be held on Tuesday, November 7 but before then, there will be one final community forum on October 19, where residents can bring any last-minute questions they may have before hitting the polls.