Proctor Academy Recognizes Importance of Transparency with Andover

Recent property purchases prompted this article

By Brian Thomas, Head of School

Since 1848, Proctor Academy and the town of Andover have been inextricably linked: First as a school serving the children of the Andover and local area, and later as a boarding school serving high school aged boys, and now as a coeducational high school with students from 25 states and nine countries. 

As Proctor has evolved and grown, so, too, has Andover. Much of this growth and evolution has been deeply intertwined with the town, not just in sharing the school’s facilities and being a partner in supporting our local elementary and middle school through service and donations of equipment, supplies, and expertise, but in taking over the maintenance of North Street, working with the Department of Transportation to install new crosswalks and paving Main Street, and in the payment of more than $152,000 in property taxes to the Town of Andover this year.

While I am new to Proctor, and to Andover, I recognize the importance of open dialogue between the school I am charged with leading and the town in which I get to live and work. With 375 students and 200 full time employees (Andover’s largest employer), the challenges of providing adequate housing to our students and employees has led to the purchase of properties in town over the past few years. This spring, the school is in the process of acquiring both 25 and 26 North Street as additional housing for employees. 

For each of these purchases, we thought long and hard about the impact they would have on the town and how to best balance Proctor’s needs for employee housing. As a residential school, housing for faculty is essential to attracting and retaining the qualified, dedicated teachers, coaches, and advisors who deliver Proctor’s mission. 

The balancing act of Proctor’s needs and the town’s needs will never be perfect, but our hope is to remain in dialogue with representatives from the Town Select Board and others in the community as we make these hard decisions.

Amplified by an incredibly challenging housing market over the past two years, I am fully aware of the perception of these actions by Proctor over the past seven years by those in town who might be looking to purchase a house or are concerned about Proctor’s impact on the tax base. My hope in this article is three-fold: to be fully transparent about Proctor’s recent real estate acquisitions, to clarify property tax policy for an organization like Proctor, and to invite those of you with questions or concerns to engage in dialogue moving forward.

As a non-profit educational institution, Proctor is not exempt from property taxes. In fact, this past year, Proctor paid roughly $151,400 in property taxes to the Town of Andover, the largest taxpayer in town. The school does have a unique property tax situation, however, in that only buildings used directly for the housing of students and some administrative buildings are taxed, meaning these recent employee housing units are not taxed. 

So while Proctor is paying taxes each year, the acquisition of employee housing units does have a direct impact on the Town budget, in the case of two recent purchases, or approximately $8,500 in yearly assessed taxes. Proctor is actively looking to see how it can continue to partner with the Town to minimize the financial impact of these purchases.

Lastly, the Proctor/Andover Liaison Committee has long served both the school and the town as a place of important dialogue as decisions like real estate acquisitions are made. While this committee has not met for the past two years of pandemic living, we are working to reignite the necessary conversations that will allow both Proctor and the Town of Andover to thrive in the months, years, and decades ahead. 

This Committee has included representatives from Proctor, the School Board, and Town Select Board in the past, and our hope is to expand membership on the committee to others in the community who have an important voice to share. 

Thank you for welcoming me to Andover over this past year, and I hope we can continue to work together as a community in the years to come.