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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Backers of Newton North plan winning cash race

NEWTON

Backers of the site plan for a new Newton North High School report raising $45,641, far ahead of the $3,095 reported by opponents of the proposal.

A citywide referendum Tuesday will decide whether the plan for a $141 million building goes forward.

Newton North Now, a group supporting the site plan, received contributions from most members of the School Committee, according to the first round of campaign finance reports filed Tuesday.

The top givers included Newton North Now members Anne Larner and Susan Heyman, who each gave $1,000; the Committee to Elect Jonathan Yeo, $600; Marc Laredo, $250; Dori Zaleznik, $250; and Claire Sokoloff, $200.

City and state officials giving to the “yes” campaign included Mayor David B. Cohen’s campaign committee, $1,000; Alderman Ben Weisbuch, $300; Lisle Baker, the Board of Aldermen president, $200; Alderman Ted Hess-Mahan, $100; state Representative Kay Khan, $200; and the campaign committee for state Representative Ruth Balser, $100.

Voters for a Better Newton North, which opposes the site plan, received $1,000 from the Newton Taxpayers Association, and the group’s treasurer, Richard Frantz, donated $200.

While the victor of the money battle may be clear, the outcome of the vote may hinge on whether the city’s vaunted proeducation voting bloc continues its dominance.

Cohen, Superintendent Jeffrey Young, and the rest of the project’s supporters are counting on an alliance of parents concerned about their children’s future and liberal voters willing to spend what it takes to maintain the city’s reputation for educational excellence.

Yet interviews in recent weeks appear to show some cracks in the supporters’ foundation, with some people expressing ambivalence and even unhappiness about the costly Newton North plan and the chunk it would take out of the overall school construction budget.

-- Connie Paige

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