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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Voters get their say on Newton's $151M high school

NEWTON

After almost eight years of designs, cost estimates, and controversy, voters in Newton will decide today whether construction should proceed on a $151 million building that would be the most expensive public high school in the state.

The proposed design on today’s ballot has a glass-walled cafeteria at the center of a 400,000 square-foot building and includes a 2,000-seat football stadium, two theaters, and large science labs.

Proponents of the plan include Mayor David B. Cohen, who wants to cap spending on the new school at $141 million. Cohen says the city can afford the investment without taking on debt-related tax increases.

Some critics charge that the project would drain away needed money from elementary schools and neglected fire houses and want a less expensive building. Others foes want to relocate the school’s proposed entrances and reconfigure traffic patterns.

Some opponents, who want to derail Newton North completely, see today’s referendum as a way to finally stop the project in its tracks.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. and will stay open to 8 p.m. Full-size copies of the plans for Newton North can be inspected at the City Clerk's office until 8 p.m. Call the city election department at 617-796-1350 with any questions.

After the polls close, check boston.com for the results.

To learn more about the controversy over the project, check out the story and photo gallery in Sunday's Globe West.

-- Andrew Ryan

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