Sudbury seeks lawmakers' help in vo-tech school funding

School bwSUDBURY — Town officials on Tuesday night urged local lawmakers to support a legislative effort to revamp the way towns fund regional vocational schools, citing a frustrating trend at Minuteman High School that puts member districts at a disadvantage.

Selectmen Vice Chairman Bob Haarde said students from Sudbury and the other 15 member towns of the Lexington vocational school have nearly become the minority to out-of-district students, whose towns don't have to pay for capital projects at Minuteman.

As the high school plans for a nearly $70 million renovation, Sudbury officials are concerned they're going to be picking up the tab for other districts who will benefit just as much, if not more, from the project.

"It just doesn't seem to be a fair funding model," Haarde said.

Town Manager Maureen Valente urged the three legislators in attendance at Tuesday night's meeting - State Sens. Jamie Eldridge and Michael Barrett and State Rep. Tom Conroy - to support a bill filed by State Sen. Kenneth Donnelly that would increase the reimbursement rates for facilities grants to regional vocational and technical schools, which would create more of an incentive for towns to join them.

Without a change, Valente said, "the (current funding) model itself won't work regardless of all these great outcomes" for students that vocational schools produce.

In other news from the board's meeting last night with lawmakers, selectmen also asked for funding help with the town's Sherman's Bridge, a wooden crossing over the Sudbury River that is in need of improvements.

"We're being forced to look at replacing it, and it's a large capital expense," said board Chairman Larry O'Brien, who added the town could use the state's assistance to either repair or upgrade the bridge.

Haarde also requested support for legislation that would enable towns embarking on trench-digging projects to have utility companies bury their lines at the same time. While undergrounding lines, a major topic in the state in the wake of several powerful, outage-causing storms in the region, is expensive, at approximately $1 million per mile, the expense would be greatly reduced if towns are already digging for another project, like sewer work, Haarde said.

"We're planning a sewer project here in Sudbury, and we'd certainly like that leverage to get those utilities underground," he said, adding burying utilities will help prevent outages, lower costs, and beautify the town.

Scott O'Connell can be reached at 508-626-4449 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..