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Peirce principal surprised complaint was filed

rainbow wordsFirst-grade homework at Peirce showing Mr. and Mrs.

UPDATED: Helping Peirce first graders recognize "Ms." will go forward this fall after an agreement about communication involving the town Human Rights Commission, and now the school's principal has added her voice.

When YourArlington first reported the story July 6, Karen Hartley, the principal, was unavailable. In a phone call July 9, she made clear that teaching the honorific for woman was acceptable to her and that, before a complaint was filed, she had been willing to formally include it in the fall.

She expressed surprise that parent Rebecca Pearl-Martinez, who has a background in gender issues, filed a complaint with the rights commission instead of first asking the administration of School Committee about it.

Hartley said the list of words in question -- including "Mr." and "Mrs.," but not "Ms." -- was handed out in early June, shortly before the parent questioned it via email. The principal said the word list is part of a district curriculum, and is not particular to Peirce.

"We had no intention of excluding anyone," Hartley said she told the parent. In fact, she said, the curriculum is part of a diversity and cultural-proficiency effort that has continued through the 2017-18 school year.

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Accord points to first-grade use of Ms. at Peirce

rainbow wordsFirst-grade homework at Peirce showing Mr. and Mrs.

UPDATED, July 10: When first-graders at Peirce Elementary School are asked to recognize words this fall, they will be expected to use "Ms.," where appropriate.

The honorific, used in front of a woman's name as a way to steer clear of denoting marital status, has become common since the 1970s. Indeed, it is the title of a magazine launched in 1972 by feminist Gloria Steinem. Still, the term met resistance this year at the Peirce.

But following an an agreement about communication involving the town's Human Rights Commission in June, Principal Karen Hartley plans to follow the suggestion of school parent Rebecca Pearl-Martinez and encourage teachers to use the term. The rights commission says the accord supports all involved and leaves currciculum up to the school administration.

The parent, who the principal at Pearlwood Consulting, which provides advice about gender and diversity policy to international organizations, wrote to Hartley June 3: "Based on the positive exchange we had about future changes to Colonial Day, I would like to raise a second diversity-related curriculum issue.

"Five families (that I know of) at Peirce are concerned that the 1st-grade teachers do not regularly teach 'Ms.' as a sight word alongside Mr., Mrs., and Miss."

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DESIGN CHOSEN: High school to be rebuilt, not renovated

Committee votes, 15-1, to support one option; chair lays out reasons

ahs option3A 400 62718Option 3A by HMFH Architects of Cambridge chosen by the building committee June 26, with the performing-arts center moved to the front. See added diagrams for this option >>

UPDATED, June 29: The Arlington High School Building Committee voted, 15-1, Tuesday, June 26, to recommend to the state a design that rebuilds the 104-year-old high school with the auditorium in the front.

The state School Building Authority plans to vote on Arlington's choice in late August, described as alternative 3A/3B in this link showing four options >>

Community feedback summary >>

The still-early, rough estimate of that option's cost is $308 million, with Arlington paying $211 million of that projected total.

Building Committee Chairman Jeff Thielman noted that committee member Kirsi Allison-Ampe voted for option 2B because it would give AHS more space. That option would maintain Fusco and Collumb House, though both would have been renovated.

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Dallin 2nd graders, senior volunteers extend bridge to future

Digital devices disconnect our youngest and eldest -- and varying strains of U.S. society have long done so, years before the iPhone or internet.

While Asian and other cultures have traditions keeping children and grandparents closer, America has tended to keep them apart.

Bridges Together, a program involving Dallin students and seniors, works in small ways to help improve those connections.

In May, 25 Dallin second-graders led by librarian Rebecca Aaronson came together with eight volunteer senior citizens at the Senior Center for a "reunion" a farewell gathering and a tour.

At other times during 2017-18, the students have taken seniors on a tour of Dallin.

Lisa LeBlanc, a Dallin parent who brought the program two years ago to Arlington from Sudbury, where it began in 1991. She has called it an "intergenerational boot camp," but you can give that phrase its gentlest meaning in this case.

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Foundation raises $22,081, names Mahoney, Byrne stars

Heather Mahoney

Michael ByrneTop Ottoson, AHS teachers

The strength of Arlington’s schools is directly related to the caliber of its teachers, and two were recently named stars --Heather Mahoney, sixth-grade English at Ottoson, and Michael Byrne, drama, Arlington High School. 

For 18 years, the Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) star-teacher appreciation program has given families an opportunity to recognize and honor teachers by making a donation to the foundation in the names of teachers at Arlington High School and Ottoson Middle School.

Mahoney’s students erupted with applause recently when she was presented with her award by AEF’s Glendalys Gandhi. In addition to teaching English language arts, Mahoney is also the coach of the girls’ junior varsity soccer team at Arlington High School. 

Byrne, AHS drama teacher and director of AHS theatrical productions, was a co-recipient of an AEF Innovations in Education grant to fund the Unity Public Art Project in the fall of 2017.

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Teachers' union, School Committee announce 3-year contract

AEA logo

UPDATED, June 23: After eight months of negotiations, the School Committee and the Arlington Education Association announced jointly on Friday, June 22, an agreement on a three-year contract that will cover the period from Sept. 1, 2018. to Aug. 31, 2021.

The agreement calls for a cost-of-living salary increases of 4.5 percent over the three years for current steps of the salary scale in all degree lanes; 6.75 percent for both bachelor's degree lanes on the added step and 10 percent on all master's degree lanes on the added step over the three years of the contract.

These additional steps are intended to bring the maximum Arlington salaries closer to the average salary of Arlington’s most comparable communities -- known as the “Town Manager 12 Communities” -- based on the results of the town salary study.

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State orders records for documents in AHS rebuild released

public records request

The state School Building Authority has been ordered to turn over records about initial designs for a new Arlington High School.

Rebecca Murray, the state supervisor of records, says the authority has 10 business days from the date of her June 12 decision to provide Chris Loreti with plans submitted to the state in April. The records may be redacted "where necessary."

The decision says that the authority's argument about terrorists' seeing plans were not supported by "sufficient factual heft" to warrant withholding records.

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U.N. club students get a full taste of Washington, D.C.

 Model U.N. students with U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III in June 2018.Model U.N. students with U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III Students from the Arlington Regional Model United Nations & Civic Engagement Clubs traveled to Washington, D.C., from Saturday, June 9, through Wednesday, June 13, to participate in the United Nations Association-USA’s Leadership Summit.

On Sunday and Monday, the students participated in workshops and plenary sessions of the summit, as well as advocacy training sessions, as well as had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Holocaust Museum Sunday afternoon for about three hours.

On Tuesday, June 12, the students spent the day at the U.S. Capitol, where they went to the offices of the Massachusetts congressional officials They met foreign-affairs specialists on the staff of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, and with aides to Reps. Katharine Clarke, Seth Moulton, Stephen Lynch and Michael Capuano. They then met U.S. Reps. Nikki Tsongas and Joseph Kennedy III. The latter presented the students with letters congratulating them on their efforts in Model United Nations and Community Involvement this year.

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Arlington Education Foundation draws record business support

aef logo 2018

Thirty-six business sponsors are supporting the Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) this year with $23,250 in funding for the local nonprofit.

Sixteen of these sponsors are first-time partners, contributing to a 28-percent increase in AEF’s program for business sponsors, record-setting support for the organization.

The funds will directly enhance AEF’s ability to fulfill its ongoing mission of supporting and advancing public education in the Arlington Public Schools.

“I am thrilled to see the local business community recognize the importance of our work,” said Ann Pirone, president of AEF. “Their partnership with AEF is a testament to their commitment to keep our schools and our community strong.”

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Terrorism? State balks at records pleas for documents in AHS rebuild

Town provides some of what MSBA does not

ahs6418forumcosts 400Projected costs for four high schools, presented at the June 4 forum.

A former Arlington official known for persistence wants as much detail as he can about plans to date for a new public high school, which he calls among the most expensive in state history.

Chris Loreti, who served on the Redevelopment Board until 2011, began asking for the full record of documents about the proposed design before the school administration submitted to the state on April 24. An initial public-records request was denied, he appealed and that was denied, as the state cited as one reason fears of terrorism.

In his response to the appeal, Loreti says the town has provided many of the documents he seeks, yet he perseveres in going after the full record from the Mass. School Building Authority (MSBA). "I have received nothing from MSBA," he wrote in an email June 6, a day after he responded to the state's latest denial. "I don't know what is in sections I haven't seen."

As to terrorist fears, he calls that a "last-minute claim -- but they cannot withhold information that is not security-related."

Asked his overall aim in seeking the full information about what the schools submitted in April -- called a PDP, for Preliminary Design Program -- he wrote: "To better understand the plans for the new school and how the cost has mushroomed."

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Arlington High School athletics director resigns

Kathleen BodieBodie

School Superintendent Kathleen Bodie has accepted the resignation of high school Athletics Director Melissa Dlugolecki.

In a June 6 news release, Bodie wrote that the "resignation this week and the recent completion of a police investigation bring this difficult chapter regarding the Athletics Twitter account to an end."

She said that the administration will begin the search for a new athletic director for the high school.

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321 AHS graduates hear encouragement; $4,300 donated for inclusion

2015 graduation procession class=2015 graduation procession at Peirce Field. / Bob Sprague photo

 UPDATED, June 6: The clouds held back until 321 seniors of the Arlington High School Class of 2018 sat down at Peirce Field for commencement ceremonies, but then the rain came. Just as all had in the previous four years, they endured.

“This class has experienced a great deal,” AHS Principal Matthew Janger told those gathered. “This class is the first class, I’ve said this before, where the Student Council and Captains Council came together to try to create an inclusive community. That doesn’t mean we are an inclusive community, but it means we’ve been striving together to achieve that goal.”

Jeremy Kremer-McNeil, who died in the fall of 2015, was a member of the Class of 2018 and was given an in memoriam diploma at the June 2 ceremonies. The Madrigal Singers sang Pink Floyd's “Wish You Were Here” after a moment of silence. Kremer-McNeil’s friends Wilson Li Sosna and Elijah Marshall Vandermel spoke.

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AHS rebuild process moves toward one design by end of June

Use of current Minuteman an unlikely option | Design feedback was sought until June 14

Preferred Options 041118 400April 10, 2018: Preferred designs for a new Arlington High School by HMFH Architects of Cambridge. These options are 1 through 4, clockwise from top left. Watch the ACMi video of the June 4 forum >>

UPDATED, June 15: An estimated 200 people in Town Hall on Monday, June 4, saw details about four proposed designs for a new Arlington High School, and then many provided feedback to the committee that will recommend one proposed design to the state by the end of June.

Brief summaries of each design are below. First, consider what questions the designs spurred. Here are some selected queries and responses:

-- If construction displaces students to an off-campus location, where will they go?

One suggestion, aired since spring and repeated at the fifth forum, has been the current Minuteman High School in Lexington. That is not expected to be an option.

Dr. Edward Bouquillon, Minuteman superintendent, said in a telephone interview June 5 that timing and the school's contract with the Mass. School Building Authority makes it unlikely that current school will be available when AHS students need it.

The new Minuteman is scheduled to open near the current school, just across the border in Lincoln, in September 2019. If an override vote is successful next year, construction on a new AHS is to start in May 2020. Depending on which design is chosen, full occupancy would occur from 2023 to 2026.

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May Citizen of the Month at AHS: Peter Roche

Principal Matt JangerJanger

The Student Council is proud to present the Arlington High School Citizen of the Month for May -- Peter Roche.

Matthew Janger, AHS principal, wrote June 4: "Peter was nominated by his peers for countless reasons. He is known by his classmates and teachers to be 'bring a positive attitude to class everyday.'

"We want to thank him for creating a wonderful sense of community and bringing joy to everyone around him, for 'working hard extracurricularly for the Varsity baseball team' and being a great community leader and role model. Some of his peers feel especially that “'his engagement, kindness, and positivity on a daily basis should be recognized/'

Thank you, Peter, for your constant efforts to make AHS a more positive and welcoming environment!

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AHS athletics director weighs options after tweet probe concludes

Cites yoga class as reason for leave; seeks legal advice on investigation 

Melissa Dlugolecki, new athletics director, Arlington High School.    Melissa Dlugolecki in 2013, a month after she was     named athletics director.

UPDATED, June 5: Arlington police have concluded that an image of a high school teacher described by a local TV station as “racy” was not fake and that the Twitter account it came from was not hacked, as the teacher had described. 

Melissa Dlugolecki, 34, who has been the high school's athletic director for five years, told school officials in January that a photo of her that appeared on the GoPonders Twitter account was not her and that someone must have broken into her account. But police have officially discounted her version of the events.

COST OF PROBE: The Police Department estimates in good faith that the cost of the investigation to be $4,338.24, which includes an estimated 96 hours of investigative effort directly connected to the various facets of the investigation, Jim Feeney, assistant town manager, wrote June 4 following a public-records request.

"This figure does not account for any costs associated with supervisory review," he wrote.

"The criminal investigation into the alleged unlawful computer access into the AHS Athletic Department Twitter account has been closed, and the allegation was unfounded," Chief Fred Ryan told YourArlington on May 26, referring to the claim that GoPonders account had been hacked.

School Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said in a statement May 28 "... that the preponderance of evidence suggests the image that had been distributed on the Twitter account was in Ms. Dlugolecki's possession.

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