Should Ipswich approve the plan to build one new elementary school to replace two existing ones?


Joanna M. Cooper

Ipswich resident, cochair, OneIpswich

Joanna M. Cooper

This May, Ipswich voters will have the opportunity to dramatically improve the educational experience for all elementary school students in town for generations to come. The Massachusetts School Building Authority will fund approximately 47 percent of the construction costs of a single new school to replace two woefully inadequate kindergarten-to-fifth grade buildings that have reached the end of their effective lives. But that reimbursement requires that we approve the town’s share of the project.

The deficiencies at the current Winthrop and Doyon buildings range from insufficient classroom, gymnasium, special education, and cafeteria space to failing heating systems, outdated technology, and leaky roofs.

The state-approved plan will allow us to replace both antiquated schools with one state-of-the-art facility. A single school will accommodate changes in education — and in student populations — over time. More important, it will guarantee equality of education for all students while enabling the sharing of resources such as speech and behavioral therapists, reading and math specialists, and librarians.


The School Committee considered all options before deciding on the single school, to be constructed behind the existing Doyon building on a beautiful parcel. One new school also will save taxpayers up to $400,000 in annual operating costs. Building two new schools would cost substantially more, or about $30 million extra if we constructed a new Winthrop now and a new Doyon in seven years. The costs would be even higher if we built two new schools now because the state would only chip in funding for one of them. Renovating the existing buildings would offer no significant savings, leaving the town with schools that are still educationally sub-par.

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The savings of a new single school building also will reduce the need for costly overrides that sustain — and sometimes merely salvage — staffing and educational programs.

There is no other plan up for consideration before Ipswich voters. State funding is guaranteed for this project today. The availability of future funds for other school projects is far from certain.

If voters reject this plan, we will be forced to maintain our substandard facilities for many more years, at significant cost. Ipswich has a unique opportunity to make huge strides in the education of our town’s students. It’s an opportunity we simply can’t afford to lose.


Pepper White

Ipswich resident, mechanical engineer, parent of Ipswich Middle School student who attended Winthrop Elementary School

Sam White
Pepper White

“What do we got on the spacecraft that’s good?” NASA flight director Gene Kranz asked his team in the 1995 movie, “Apollo 13.” The spaceship was damaged and the lives of its three crew members in jeopardy. The film shows how victory was gained by starting with Kranz’s one simple question.


What’s good with the Winthrop and Doyon?

• They’re paid for.

• The buildings have some needs, but overall have stood the test of time.

• They have thermopane windows.

• Their roofs might be excellent locations for solar power.


• Architectural drawings show they have doors between classrooms that can be used to make larger classroom suites.

• They’re fine examples of mid-century modern architecture.

• They have excellent teachers and staff that sometimes offer much-needed support to families.

• They have dedicated parents and wonderful children.

• They’ve been built and improved by the generosity of generations of school parents and citizens.

• Many current residents either attended or sent their children to the schools.

• Each school has a marvelous sense of community.

What’s good about Doyon?

• The school honors Ipswich High School graduate Marine Lance Corporal Paul Francis Doyon, the first young man from town to be killed in Vietnam.

• Each classroom has 900 square feet, according to the building drawings.

• It has a new parking lot. Linebrook Road has just been repaved.

• Its courtyard could be enclosed to provide better energy efficiency and additional learning space.

• It abuts Willowdale State Forest.

What’s good about Winthrop?

• It’s a beautiful green space in the town center.

• Many pupils can walk to school.

• It has a lovely new playground.


• Winthrop and Doyon are serviceable and can be made very green.

• To throw them away would be environmentally unconscionable. We should restore these buildings, not discard them.

• 27 percent of Ipswich households rent, according to the assessor’s office. Renters, the elderly, and baby boomers must not needlessly be taxed out of their homes.

A proposal:

Hanover is reconfiguring its elementary schools with the help of state funding. One school will be a prekindergarten to first grade, the other second to fourth grade. We can make the Winthrop kindergarten to second grade, and Doyon third to fifth grade, creating one community elementary school system with two schools.

(This is an informal poll, not a scientific survey. Please vote only once.)

As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. He can be reached at