, Salem, MA

Local News

March 26, 2009

Town-seminary debate heats up

Studies disagree over what Gordon-Conwell contributes to school district


And the 126 acres of open space the school protects by its very presence.

Carey said he anticipates negotiations with the school will resume in the coming weeks. School officials clearly said their $84,000 gift last year was a one-time event that would be revisited annually. And like everyone else, the school is suffering from the downturn in the economy.

The selectman posed a question that is at the very core of the ongoing debate. In the usual course of events, the cost of municipal governance would be spread across all residents by some formula, he said, but when nonprofit institutions are part of the mix, how are their offsetting contributions to be weighed?

"Since the ordinary model doesn't apply," Carey asked, "what does?"

Highlights from the studies

Seminary benefits to the community

$3 million a year in faculty and staff salaries for Hamilton residents

$221,888 worth of goods and services purchased annually from 26 Hamilton vendors

$2.8 million worth of goods and services purchased annually by master's degree students

Seminary costs to the community

Additional teachers to educate seminarians' children, estimated at 0.74 to 3.77 per year

$300,000, estimated funding gap created by 40 students each year

$3.9 million, cumulative budget impact between 2009 and 2018

Sources: Grades K-12 School Enrollment Forecast, Hamilton-Wenham Schools, Sept. 15, 2008; "Contributing to Our Local Economy: An Economic Impact Study by Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary"

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