MASHPEE – Officials in Mashpee expressed concerns this week for its share of the proposed cost of building a new Cape Cod Technical High School.
Preliminary estimates have Mashpee paying for $18 million towards the new $143 million facility over the next 30 years.
Mashpee Selectmen will decide whether to place an article on the town meeting warrant to ask legislators to allow the town to pull out of the district.
Mashpee Selectman Andrew Gottlieb said the cost of the proposed building exceeds the ability of its taxpayers to finance.
“While we respect the mission of the technical high school some kind of step back needs to be taken before are asked to spend that amount of money on that program,” Gottlieb said.
Under an agreement between the 12 towns in the school’s district, any member looking to leave must get the consent of the other members.
“I don’t see that as a likely outcome,” Gottlieb said.
That leaves the town with the option of petitioning the Legislature.
Gottlieb expects a number of the towns to object to the overall price tag of the project.
“I think that the district needs to pay attention to what it is hearing both from the communities and ultimately from the individual tax payers who fund it that what they are putting forward is, on its face, unaffordable,” Gottlieb said.
Plans for the $143 million facility were approved by the High School’s Building Committee in December, instead of refurbishing the current building.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority will cover 30 percent of the total cost of the project, leaving the 12 towns to pick up the remaining $100.
Cape Tech Superintendent Robert Sanborn said he is working with all 12 towns to make the new school as affordable as possible, including working with legislators to get a higher reimbursement rate.
“I think the fruits of that labor are starting to happen. I’m not declaring victory yet,” Sanborn said. “I’m hoping to say that the reimbursement rate will be going up a little bit.”
The feasibility phase of the new school has just been completed and the project now heads to the schematic design phase.
“[The] finer points and cost estimates and design are looked at even closer,” Sanborn said. “Towards the end of that process, which would probably be in the late summer, we will have the final numbers.”
The current numbers that have been discussed with officials from the member towns are “a worst case scenario,” according to Sanborn.
Sanborn said he will work to bring costs down as much as possible, but that he also has a responsibility to the vocational technical students for the next 50 years to provide them with an appropriate facility.
“Virtually all of the schools on the Cape have been redone or are going to be redone in one fashion or another, and it’s Cape Cod Tech’s time,” Sanborn said.
Cape Tech allowed Mashpee into its school’s district in 1981 when the town was looking for a vocational education option.
By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter