Lowell, MA – July 20, 2017
Supporters of keeping Lowell High School at its existing downtown location today announced a ballot initiative campaign to give voters a voice on where the new high school should be rebuilt. The campaign has launched an effort to collect the requisite number of signatures necessary to add a question to November’s ballot asking voters if they support an extensive renovation and rebuild at the existing downtown Lowell High School location.
“This grassroots effort was launched with the support of more than 100 Lowell residents who believe that preserving the high school’s downtown location is the most cost-effective, accessible and forward-looking option for current and future students,” said Michael Gallagher, the ballot committee chair. “As we collect signatures in support of this initiative, we believe that it will be clear that there is widespread support for the downtown option across the city and that there will be tremendous momentum behind this initiative going into November.”
According to the Lowell Elections Commission, in order to get onto the ballot, the committee must collect the signatures of 10% of Lowell’s registered voters, or about 6,400 signatures, by September 25th.
Save Lowell High started collecting signatures this week, and plans to kick-off their door-to-door campaign this Saturday. “This is about making the right choice for the city now, and for the generations to come, and we are encouraged that the number of people getting involved with this effort continues to grow,” Gallagher said.
To organize their efforts, supporters have formed a ballot question committee, ‘Save Lowell High’. The committee’s officers are: Chairman Michael Gallagher, a Lowell native and local attorney; Vice Chairman Molly Sheehy, a former dean of Middlesex Community College; Secretary Onoste Omoyeni, 2016/2017 Lowell High Senior Class president and recent graduate; and Treasurer Lianna Kushi, a local non-profit executive.
“We are organized and motivated, and I am confident that we will not only collect the signatures needed to see that this initiative makes it on the ballot, but that it will pass with overwhelming support in November,” said Molly Sheehy. “Having served as the liaison between Lowell High and Middlesex Community College, I’ve seen firsthand how critical the downtown location is to the future success of Lowell’s students. As we make the case for the downtown location to residents across this city, we see more and more support for this effort.”
“The downtown plan isn’t just the more equitable option, it is both more cost effective and will get students into a new building the fastest,”said Lianna Kushi. “The downtown option costs $12 million less to build AND will receive more state aid. Moving the high school to the Cawley site would further add the significant expense of replacing acres of valuable open space with parking lots and the added bussing and transportation costs that will be required, estimated at $3 million per year. Overall, taxpayers get a far better deal keeping the high school downtown.”
“Having just graduated from Lowell High, I share the perspective that past and present educational leaders across our city have taken – that an urban high school located in the heart of our city offers the best opportunity to ALL of Lowell’s students,” added Onotse Omoyeni. “The school committee, the current and former headmaster, the current and former Superintendent, and President of the UMASS system Marty Meehan have all registered their support for keeping the high school downtown. The focus here should first and foremost be to ensure that that every student is best positioned to realize his or her potential and a modern downtown high school offers our students the most promise.”
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