‘We Are Pentucket’ kicks off campaign to jam-packed crowd of supporters from 3 towns

We Are Pentucket

Municipal Ballot Question Committee

PO Box 722
West Newbury, MA 01985


Friday, Oct. 26, 2018

Contact:  Nancy Reardon Stewart,
Comunications Director

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 617-957-3311

‘We Are Pentucket’ Kicks off Campaign to Jam-packed Crowd of Supporters from Three Towns

NEWBURYPORT — More than 130 community leaders, parents and town officials from Groveland, Merrimac and West Newbury spoke passionately Thursday night on the urgency of approving funding for a new Pentucket school building for grades 7-12.

A sold-out crowd packed Michael’s Harborside to full capacity to support We Are Pentucket, a Municipal Ballot Question Committee dedicated to educating voters on the importance of approving a funding measure this spring for the construction project.

Dr. Justin Bartholomew, superintendent of the Pentucket Regional School District as well as an alum, talked about recent tours of newly-constructed high schools in Massachusetts.

“When I stepped into buildings, there is no question that those students have an advantage over our children, and that is not OK,” he said, to applause.

“When you are an alumni of Pentucket, you care about the place you live,” he continued. “You want to make sure that the place where you live is taken care of today, tomorrow and for the next 50 years.”

The middle and high school, both designed and constructed in the 1950s, have outlived their functional use, he said, “But what has not outlived its use is our need to make sure that our children are getting the best education possible.”

The proposed building project is expected to receive an estimated 40 percent reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). The stringent eligibility process for this state funding began nearly four years ago, and is entering the schematic design phase. This February, the district will have a more exact estimate of projects costs, which are currently estimated at $151.1 million. The total cost to taxpayers would be $95.2 million, with the MSBA funding.

Glenn Kemper, a selectman from West Newbury and father of three Pentucket graduates, announced that his board plans to reach out their counterparts to discuss ways they can work together to get this project approved.

“We need to treat this as a community project and not just a town project,” Kemper said.

Jonathan Seymour, principal of Pentucket High School and a member of the School Building Committee, lives in Merrimac. He has four children in district schools and two other who are Pentucket alums.

“It’s really amazing when you think back to 60 years ago that the three towns came together not just to rebuild a school,  but to form a district,” he told the crowd, talking about the history of Pentucket. “We’re at a point now where the school is really tired and old. There are so many system issues that are imminently going to become serious issues for us.

“We need to design a building to support the collaborative learning environment we are offering to students every day,” Seymour said.