TOWNSEND -- The North Middlesex Regional School District will soon be home to a new high school.
Voters in Ashby, Pepperell and Townsend approved a debt-exclusion vote Monday to finance construction of the new high school.
The project passed with 1,262 yes votes to 801 no votes in Pepperell, 1,050 yes votes to 715 no votes in Townsend and 426 yes votes to 342 no votes in Ashby, according to unofficial results Monday night.
Despite a late night in Ashby, where counting went past 11 p.m., Superintendent Joan Landers called the night one of the best of her life.
"Our students at North Middlesex achieve wonderful accomplishments, but I can't wait to see where they're going to soar in the new facility," Landers said.
She thanked the Building Committee, as well as the voters in all three towns.
"I'm absolutely thrilled for the students. I'm just beside myself. I think this is going to affect teaching and learning in the district for the next 50-plus years," Landers said.
Building Committee Chairman Rob Templeton said, "I'm just thrilled and grateful that all the folks appreciated the work that the Building Committee put in and voted to move it forward. I think it's a great opportunity for the community and for the kids and I'm ready to get to work putting this to reality."
School Committee Chairman Susan Robbins said the results were a relief after a tense night of vote-counting.
"I'm just thrilled. You feel like you're holding your breath all day, and I'm thrilled for the three communities and for our students now and in the future," Robbins said.
The school will cost a total of $89.08 million, with the state reimbursing about $40.2 million of that cost. Of the remainder, Pepperell will pay about 50 percent, Townsend 38 percent and Ashby 12 percent, based on each town's student population.
Taxes are expected to rise by $142 per $100,000 valuation in Pepperell, $159 per $100,000 valuation in Townsend and $143 per $100,000 in Ashby.
Construction on the school is expected to start in spring 2015, with an estimated completion date of fall 2017.
At the polls, many voters expressed strong support for the project.
"I voted yes because I think we need to support our teachers and schools. We need to pitch in and make things work for the kids. I know times are tough on people's pocketbooks, but this is the way to pay it forward," said Townsend resident Deborah Prince Smith.
Pepperell resident Gary Heisermann said he thought voting yes was an obvious choice.
"We'll have to spend a lot of money one way or the other, so we might as well build a new one. I know it's expensive, but we have a limited chance, it's valuable. It seems like a no-brainer to me," Heisermann said.
Some, however, said they voted against the project because of the impact it would have on taxes.
Ashby voter Mary Balls said she felt there could have been more done throughout the process to find another option that impacted taxes less heavily.
"I don't think the towns are anticipating the tax burden. We are already taxed to the max. I don't really think it's a viable option right now," Balls said.
Others sidelined their concerns about raised taxes and chose to support the project.
"I'm personally against it because it'll raise taxes, but I know we need it. Some things just need to be done," said Mike Sodano, of Townsend, who voted in support of the project.
Staff writer Katina Caraganis contributed to this report.