The Community Preservation Act (CPA) does not compete with school funding. To the contrary, it will strengthen our schools and the education we offer Watertown’s children.
Imagine an “outdoor classroom” of restored open space and buildings where teachers and students study how Watertown was settled, using historic maps and artifacts that bring learning alive. All of this would qualify for CPA funding and for matching state funds and grants that Watertown would otherwise be unable to get. And affordable housing programs funded by the CPA would make it possible for our teachers to live in Watertown and spend more time with students instead of long hours commuting.
The CPA will also free up funds for school renovations and construction. Past expenditures on Victory Field, Filippello Park, and playgrounds at the schools themselves could have been covered by CPA funds. If Watertown votes Yes on 5, these and other projects will no longer compete with the schools for limited town capital funds.
The school department and the town are working hard to figure out what to do about our school buildings. While there is agreement that our school buildings need to be modernized or perhaps even replaced, it will take time to determine exactly what to do and how much it will cost. Once the town settles on a plan, it will take still longer to secure funding from the state’s School Building Authority.
In the meantime, voting Yes on 5 means we can start claiming the state CPA match now and invest in parks and playing fields, open space, affordable housing, and Watertown’s historical heritage in ways that will benefit the schools and all of us. When we have a school building plan, the fact that the town is funding other projects through the CPA and taking those expenditures off its capital budget will strengthen our case for state funding and with the bond markets.
Let’s not create a false choice between the CPA and our schools. They’re not in competition. They go hand-in-hand in making Watertown a better place to live. Other towns like Waltham have adopted the CPA and built new schools at the same time. Watertown can too!
-Invest in Watertown Steering Committee