Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, University of Massachusetts President Marty Meehan, and State Senator Eileen M. Donoghue have jointly released the following statement about the selection of the site of a new Lowell High School.
Downtown Site is Most Appropriate Choice
By Niki Tsongas, Marty Meehan & Eileen Donoghue
As public servants and private citizens, we have witnessed Lowell successfully reinvent itself as a livable and resilient city. As a community, Lowell cannot take for granted the innovative approaches to urban challenges that have enabled such stunning progress.
In order to ensure Lowell’s future success and vitality, citizens must be able to acquire the skills needed to thrive in our knowledge-based economy. As everyone in this city agrees, a modern high school is key to achieving that goal. A high school that can better facilitate modern learning will benefit this community and its young people for years to come.
Accordingly, we appreciate the thoughtful debate around whether or not to move the location of the high school as the city seeks to make the improvements necessary to meet the needs of an economically and culturally diverse student body. This engaged public discourse reflects a shared commitment to realizing the long-term vision for the city’s revitalization and prosperity.
We have listened closely to all sides of this discussion and while proponents of the Cawley option have laid out some worthy reasons in support of moving the location of the high school, we believe the downtown site is the most appropriate and cost-effective choice.
Today, as it has been historically, Lowell High is centrally located with generally equidistant access for students across the city’s many neighborhoods. From the high school, any student can walk to UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College along with Pollard Memorial Library, museums, arts organizations, Merrimack Repertory Theater, Lowell Community Health Center, and Lowell’s National Historical Park. This close proximity exposes students to a diverse array of expanded educational activities including internships, work programs and educational partnerships that would be harder to facilitate in a suburban setting.
Programs often key to successful completion of high school provided by UTEC, the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association, the Boys and Girls Club, YouthBuild and many others, are more universally accessible from a downtown high school. Maintaining – for all students – access to both the school and to these important supplemental resources and opportunities must remain paramount so that every student is best positioned to realize his or her potential.
Furthermore, a downtown site is more fiscally responsible. With the state assuming a higher share, a downtown option is less of a burden to taxpayers and to the city. Additionally, a downtown site negates the need for added bussing costs and infrastructure investments, which would be required to transport kids to a Cawley site.
Lowell has proudly met the challenges of a changing economy with innovation and ingenuity and our city has a history of revitalizing old structures for a new century. The city makes beautiful, functional spaces that become sources of great pride and we have no doubt the downtown plan would result in a peerless, state-of-the-art educational facility that embraces its unique urban environment. Lowell High School could be the best urban high school in the state – but that will require a commitment to embracing Lowell’s urban identity.
We believe that a downtown site is not only the option that is most compatible with the city’s current needs, but also the most forward-looking option—one that will sustain the Lowell renaissance that began nearly 50 years ago. Downtown would be the most accessible, equitable, and transformative choice for the city and for generations of Lowell students to come.
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, 3rd Congressional District
President Martin T. Meehan, University of Massachusetts
State Senator Eileen M. Donoghue, First Middlesex District