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School Committee endorses CFO choice, coming from Winchester

UPDATED, March 31: John Danizio, finance director of Winchester Public Schools, is the choice of the superintendent and a subcommittee to be the schools' next chief financial officer, and the School Committee agreed Thursday, March 30, voting, 7-0, to accept the candidate.

School Committee logo

Danizio, who has been in Winchester since 2009, was the lone candidate whom the School Committee interviewed publicly. He has been recommended by Superintendent Kathleen Bodie and a school search committee among three finalists.

Asked what attracted him to the CFO position here, he wrote March 29: "When I first heard about the opening, I started doing a little research on Arlington. As I continued to review more information, the more the appealing the position became.

"Originally, Arlington piqued my interest because this role would afford me the ability to work in a larger district with greater enrollment, a bigger budget and of course the location (I live in Woburn).

'Exciting time'

"It wasn't until I dug a little deeper that I began to realize what an exciting time this is for the Arlington Public Schools. The budget complexities, unprecedented enrollment growth, and multiple ongoing planned and potential building projects are what really sealed the deal.

"As I progressed through the interview process and got to meet with more administrators and staff it really solidified my belief that this job was a great match for my skill set. I am very excited for the opportunity. I look forward to continuing the process and hopefully becoming a member of the Arlington team."

The steps to hire Danizio include a majority vote from School Committee and successful negotiations of his contract.

If hired, Danizio would replace former CFO Diane Johnson, who left in February for a similar position at the Dr. Franklin Perkins School, a special-needs facility in Lancaster. Johnson had been CFO since 2009.

Background

While in Winchester, the 1997 Bentley College graduate has supervised all functions of the business office, including accounts payable, payroll, benefits, grants, transportation, food service, procurement, technology and building maintenance. He has directed the budget process.

Danizio's resume says he knows many issues that Arlington schools are dealing with, including high special-education costs and increasing enrollment.

Before his Winchester job, he was the business administrator for the Salem Public Schools from November 2007 to September 2009.

From September 2004 to November 2007, he was deputy auditor for the City of Woburn, supervising daily accounting for a budget topping $100 million.

Out of college, from December 1998 to September 2004, he was controller and director of operations for Source Technology of Waltham, managing all accounting functions for the $26 million company.

Under 1993 education reform, a superintendent has the right to choose a CFO, and the School Committee may approve or disapprove the choice.

Under Chapter 71, Section 41, a School Committee may award a contract to a superintendent of schools or a school business administrator for periods not exceeding six years.

Committee member Kirsi Allison-Ampe served on the search committee and recommended hiring Danizio.


This news summary was published Wednesday, March 29, 2017, and updated March 31. 

AHS students In All-State Band, Orchestra, Chorus

Arlington High School Principal Matthew Janger has announced that the following students were selected to perform in the All-State Band, Orchestra and Choir Ensemble. He extended congratulations to the students and to their directors, Tino D'Agostino and Maddy Kitchen. They are:
Liam Barthelmy
Fiona Lessell
Greg Foley
Adrian Verspyck
Hannah Alton

This announcement was published Sunday, March 12, 2017.

Help reimagine schools' curriculum

Vision 2020 Education Task Group collects ideas abourt educationVision 2020 Education Task Group collects ideas about education. / Glenn Koenig photo

UPDATED, March 7: The Arlington School Committee, Vision 2020, Arlington Education Foundation and the Arlington public schools have teamed up to showcase "Reimagining Education: Curriculum Innovations in the APS."

Set for Thursday, March 9, from 6:45 to 8 p.m. at Town Hall, the event is intended to showcase the many curriculum changes happening across the system. Teachers and curriculum leaders will lead small discussions and demonstrations of their work and the changes to curriculum.

The event will take over Town Hall with more than 20 "classrooms," and community members choose which to attend. It's also a great chance to meet the educators in our schools.

More than 20 topics will be presented; you choose which three to visit. The final program is included below.

Among the questions to be explored will be these:

-- How does the new FOSS curriculum (elementary) support implementing the new Mass. science and technology engineering frameworks?

-- Linda Hanson, a reading teacher, will discuss the use of technology to support teachers in teaching elementary literacy;

-- Susan Stewart will present on using cutting-edge technology to explore science concepts and engage middle school kids;

-- Graham Dimmock will discuss piloting a new standards-based grading system in the Arlington High  School chemistry curriculum; and

-- Danielle Raad will speak about using local and community resources to explore scientific methodologies and principles. She will highlight the archaeological dig on the AHS site as a means to incorporate local issues into the science curriculum.

Here is the final program and how it works:

• Participants should choose three topics that they are interested in learning more about.

• Go to each of the numbered tables to obtain a ticket for that presentation for one of the three available time slots.

• Return to your first chosen topic, take a seat and reimagine.

Introduction: 6:45- 6:55 pm

Topic #1 7:00-7:15 pm

Topic #2 7:20-7:35 pm

Topic #3 7:40-7:55 pm

ELEMENTARY TOPIC

1 Use of Responsive Classroom in Elementary Schools

2 Literacy Grade 1

3 Literacy Grade 3

4 Literacy Grade 5

5 Elementary Mathematics

6 Tools of the Mind

MIDDLE SCHOOL

7 21st-Century Computer Science

8 Note & Notice - (ELA 6th Grade Level)

9 U sing Authentic Materials to Motivate Language Learners (Spanish)

10 U sing Authentic Materials to Motivate Language Learners (Mandarin)

11 AEF Granted IR Camera

12 Creation of Personalized 6th Grade Social Studies

HIGH SCHOOL

13 Targeted Selling - Marketing A Pitch (Public Speaking)

14 Computer Science Program

15 Special Education Programs Beyond High School

16 Using Arlington High School as an Archaeological Dig

17 Piloting New Standards Based Grading System

18 Integrating Citizenship & Civics in the Classroom

19 Using the Play "Hamilton" To Teach Early & U.S. History

20 Co-Teaching to Support Special Education

To learn about these developments and more from Arlington teachers and administrators, join the co-sponsors and your neighbors.

The reimgining process began last November with the screening of the documentary "Most Likely to Succeed, about High Tech High, a school in San Diego that tries to learn how education can better prepare students for the century they are in. It operates under rules without unions.

The process continued at Town Hall last Dec. 7, when an estimated 30 people gathered in the Lyons Hearing Room to talk, to dream, to try to push toward a view of what education in Arlington may become.

Called a community dialogue -- and it was -- those present broke up into groups to hash out a series of general educational guideposts, which might later become principles for moving forward. Read a summary at the Dec. 18 link below.


Dec. 18, 2016: Visions and revisions: Dialogue about education seeks to map fresh course

Nov. 2, 2016: Follow-up held to AHS film aiming to spur dialogue on education


This news announcement was published Friday, March 3, 2017, and updated March 7 with information provided by Scott Lever. 

School-budget proposal spells out impact of cuts

The proposed fiscal 2018 budget includes a long list of needs -- some funded, some unfunded. The following are selections from that list that include what Superintendent Kathy Body says is the impact of not funding them (to see all in the list, read the full budget plan):


<< Return to main School Committee summary 


School budget logoRequested, unfunded carried over from fiscal 2017

Special Education

ELL: Unfunded - Enrollment growth and high needs.

Each of the two additional elementary learning specialists requested requires a teaching assistant as support. Cost: $35,374.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: Two added learning specialists will need to draw their teaching assistant support from the current teaching-assistant staffing.

Ottoson SPED TAs: Unfunded - High needs.

We are requesting to increase the salary of special-education teaching assistants at Ottoson Middle School to the behavior support personnel level. This is a salary increase of $8,086 for seven current staff, for a total cost of $56,602. The higher salary of $25,773 will help address persistent and severe difficulties in recruiting and retaining these valued staff.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: It will continue to be difficult to retain and attract staff for these positions.

Elementary

Tools of the Mind: Unfunded - Enrollment growth and high needs.

Tools of the Mind is a rigorous full-day academic curriculum replacing curriculum that emphasized morning academic programming. Implementing this program with integrity requires full-day teaching-assistant support. Elementary principals have requested increasing the current 7.05 half-time kindergarten teaching assistants to full-time to better support the kindergarten curriculum. Cost: $124,693.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: This program is based on significant personal instruction not achievable with large class sizes and/or large numbers of high-needs students in a class without sufficient staffing.

Middle School

Languages: Unfunded - Enrollment growth.

The middle school's continued increased enrollment has created a need for additional class sections in world languages, specifically for Spanish and French. French enrollment has doubled, to more than 27 students on average per class. Spanish classes are already large, with just under 26 students per class in the sixth grade, while eighth grade classes average 25. The school anticipates continued high levels of enrollment in both languages. Request: $58,656 to add an 0.8 full-time equivalent Spanish/French teacher, based on an average teacher salary of $73,320.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: Class sizes of nearly 30 provide an unacceptable educational environment. Students in these classes are experiencing an inequity in their education.

High School

Note: For the two listed below, the budget has added 2.0 full-time equivalent teachers, at a cost of $102,000. This assumes the hiring of Master's step 1 teachers at a cost of $51,000. The actual allocation of the teaching staff will be determined after enrollment numbers are clear.

Social studies - enrollment growth.

This is a request for an additional 0.8 social studies teacher. Part of this position would enable the third curriculum B section to be co-taught, improving the services provided to our high-needs students. With the addition of several level one and two English language learner students this year, additional instructional support is needed in their classes. Additionally, the history department's enrollment is continuing to grow. Next year, its core course enrollment is projected to increase by 6 percent (roughly 60 students). With a larger incoming freshman class and a large sophomore class moving up, additional staffing is needed for our core courses in ninth and 11th grade. Cost: $40,800, based on a Master's step 1 salary of $51,000.

Science - enrollment growth.

Increased enrollment in high school science classes calls for an additional 0.6 full-time equivalent science teacher to cover additional class sections needed in biology and physics. Enrollment has outpaced staff increases, exceeding lab safety and the ability of teachers to manage effective lab instruction. Thirty-one percent of lab classes this year exceed the lab space of 24 students per lab, and 70 more students are coming next year. Cost: $30,600, based on a Master's step 1 salary of $51,000. The National Science Teachers Association, National Science Education Leadership Association, American Chemical Society and National Fire Protection Board all recommend no more than 24 students in a science classroom for safety reasons.

Languages: Unfunded - Enrollment growth.

Eighty-three percent of high school students are enrolled in a world language program. Enrollment in the French program at the middle school has doubled in recent years. These students entered the high school this year, resulting in a doubling of sections offered at the French 2 level. We were able to offer sufficient sections in FY17 by combining an upper level class (AP French and 5H), which will not be possible next year. Next year, these students will enter French 3 and an equally large amount of students will come in as freshman. Without added staff, we will no longer be able to offer a full range of French courses.

Spanish class averages have also been increasing. A request for a 0.2 Spanish teacher for FY17 was not funded, resulting in our three sections of Spanish 3A running at 28, 28 and 29. Next year, we excerpt a larger number of students entering Spanish 3 from middle school. If Spanish 2 sections are not increased next year, we expect an average class size there of 30.29. If Spanish 3 sections are not increased, we expect an average class size of 28.67. All other sections of Spanish are running over 20, so there is no room to cut. Cost of adding a 0.4 FTE Spanish/French teacher is $29,328, based on the average teacher salary of $73,320.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: Without adding staffing, we will not be able to offer full sequence, or we will have classes of 38-39.

Visual arts: Unfunded - Enrollment growth.

The visual art department needs another 0.4 FTE teacher. There is now a fine-arts graduation requirement, plus increased interest in visual arts. Cost:$29,328 at the average teacher salary of $73,320.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: Crowded art classes and fewer students able to get their first choice elective.

Athletics: Unfunded - Enrollment growth.

The athletic director has requested a budget increase of $121,965 to provide appropriate materials, supplies and services for growing high school athletics. This includes an increase in transportation costs as well as for ice-time cost increase. Particular needs include supporting the growth of boys' hockey freshman team with coach and ice time, potentially adding a second season for the swim team in the winter, and reinstatement of unfilled coaching stipends.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: May result in not covering all increased costs of the athletic program. Could affect the schedule for non-safety-related equipment purchases, uniform replacement and coaching-staff size.

Reserves: Unfunded - Enrollment growth.

This budget request includes reserve teachers to be allocated where needs arise when actual enrollment in each school and department is known. Cost of three positions: $219,960, based on the average teaching salary of $73,320.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: District seeks two reserve teachers in the FY18 budget in addition to three reserves requested for FY17. Two of the total five requested for FY18 will be funded. The impact is a reduced ability to address inequitable class sizes or inability to meet the full demand for courses.

Math: Unfunded - Essential curriculum needs, unfunded mandates, enrollment growth and high needs.

Request includes an additional full-time equivalent elementary math coach, to complete the elementary math coaching team. The added coach would also assist in implementing the new math curriculum. Cost: about $73,320.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: Support of elementary math teachers will be affected. A significant increase in the academic performance of district students in math has occurred, but we have a continuing increase in high-needs students. A growing number of teachers need support in differentiated math instruction.

Literacy: Unfunded - Enrollment growth and high needs.

Another literacy coach proposed for the elementary level will bring the total full-time equivalent for these positions to 2.6. The current 1.6 level is not sufficient to coach all elementary teachers on the skills needed to support the wide variety of student needs for literacy teaching and learning. Cost: $73,320.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: The expansion of the Lucy Calkins program to reading, the increased rigor of the common core state standards and the continued layering of more demands on classroom teachers build a need for additional coaching support for elementary classroom teachers.

Tech: Funded - Enrollment growth.

Our technology network is larger than districts of our size. Adding teachers and technology increases the need for desktop support for the devices used daily by teachers. Implementing PARCC testing on computers requires additional support. We are also instituting VoIP, which will use the same network. An added desktop-support person will cost about $55,000. This aims to help ensure that the continuing investment in technology is working at a high-performance level.

Fiscal 2018 proposed increases

Special Education

IEPs: Unfunded - Enrollment growth and high needs.

Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are updated and revised frequently, and new students qualify for special-education services each year. Funding requested for five reserve teaching assistants to be allocated as required by IEPs. Cost: $88,435, based on the teaching-assistant salary of $17,687.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: The district’s budget includes 4.5 reserve teaching assistants. We will draw
from this reserve for teaching assistants to meet both general and special education needs.

Elementary

Math: Unfunded - Enrollment growth, high needs and unfunded mandates.

Requesting two additional math interventionists. A new version of the math curriculum, a revised version of math assessments and data analysis, as well as shifts in pedagogy, necessitate support for the teachers. A full salaried staff of interventionists at elementary schools would be the start of the student intervention team. Cost: two interventionists at $146,640, based on the average teacher salary of $73,320.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: We may lose current staff because of low salary or Title 1 funding reduction. That would mean no full-time math interventionists in the district.

Art, music: Unfunded - Enrollment growth.

With higher enrollment, and more classrooms in the elementary grades, more elementary specialists in art and music are needed. At current staffing levels, it is difficult to schedule these classes at times that allow all other needs of the elementary schools to be addressed. This includes common planning time,
staggering subject areas to accommodate special education and English language learner services, Title I intervention and reading services. We propose to hire one FTE divided between the requirements of art and music. Cost: $73,320.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: Continued stress on scheduling appropriate class times for art and music, limiting ability to appropriately schedule core academics so that all students can participate.

Achievement gap: Unfunded - Enrollment growth and high needs.

To be Level 1, all schools need to meet their target for closing the achievement gap between high-needs students (students with disabilities, English language learners, former English language learners and economically disadvantaged students). Growing enrollment grows includes high-needs students. We are requesting an additional Board Certified Behavior Analyst, so that the district has four. Cost: $73,320.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: Continuing difficulty in providing behavior-analysis support in elementary schools, affect the ability to support high-needs students.

Reading: Unfunded - Enrollment growth, high needs, unfunded mandates (CCSS).

As student population has soared at Bishop, we have not added additional reading FTEs. The Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention System tutor, at a $28,500 salary, would provide needed support for Tier II Response to Intervention for grades K-2 in the buildings that don't currently have the Title I Literacy Tutors (Hardy, Stratton, and Thompson).

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: More primary students reading below grade level not receiving additional RTI reading support, which could impact ability to read on grade level by end of grade three.

Middle School

Art: Unfunded - Enrollment growth.

More than 1,000 students take visual art at Ottoson Middle School, and crowded classes give rise to a request for a 0.4 FTE visual art teacher. This addition will provide smaller class sizes and give students the support of a dynamic teaching team. Cost: $29,328.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: Art classes will be crowded for all three middle school grades.

Latin: Unfunded - Enrollment.

Sixth-grade Latin has 66 students enrolled. Most or all are expected to continue with Latin next year. Two sections of seventh-grade Latin are in effect. Adding an additional 0.2 FTE Latin teacher will create a new seventh-grade section, which will result in a class average of 22. Cost: $14,664.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: If there are only two Latin sections next year, the class average will be 33 students.

Reading: Enrollment growth and high needs.

A consistent group of 10 to 15 students is referred for reading support. These students have diagnosed reading issues and need to receive Tier 2 and/or 3 reading instruction. Some students receive this as a result of an IEP; others do not. With a large group of Tier 3 sixth-grade student this year. Requested is adding a 1.0 FTE reading teacher at the middle school at a cost of $73,320.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: It is very difficult to support student with reading needs, both students with and without IEPs.

High School

Math: Unfunded - Enrollment growth and high needs.

The high school needs a 0.4 FTE math teacher because of enrollment growth, with a focus on the curriculum A courses. With shifts in programs for honors/AP courses and curriculum B courses in recent years, the curriculum A course has increased, with many classes of 25 or more students. Demand for math in general has grown, with 76 percent to 96 percent of seniors now taking math. Cost: $29,400.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: Enrollment growth may increase strongly.

Science: Unfunded - Enrollment growth and essential curriculum materials.

The science department needs new texts for the AP Chemistry and AP Biology courses. Enrollment has grown from six AP sections to nine in the department. At this point the texts are out of spec with AP chemistry and biology. The College Board won't approve texts that are older than 10 years, which would affect these two subjects. Cost: $15,000.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: These two classes could face rejection from acceptance for AP standing from the College Board.

Computers: Unfunded

The high school is requesting $104,600 for staff computers and replacement of classroom projectors. This is outside of the normal technology replacement schedule.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: Some AHS teaching staff will not have recently replaced computers and classroom projectors.

Other

High school dean: Unfunded - Enrollment growth.

Staff requests an added dean. The school's enrollment, up to 1,300, operates with two deans. Suspended students are now required to receive instruction while out of school, so the demand of providing that new service is also carried by the two deans. Cost: $95,000.

IMPACT OF NOT FUNDING: The current deans will continue to share responsibility for a growing number of students.

Assistant principals: Funded - Enrollment growth, high needs, essential curriculum materials and unfunded mandates.

The district has no assistant principals in the elementary schools. Growing numbers of students, including those with high needs leads to increased curriculum demands on elementary teachers. Schools need the support of assistant principals. This additional school leader will have an integral and clearly defined role in in running the building. Cost: $95,000. The district seeks to hire five for the largest elementary schools. Funding constraints limit the
hiring to 2.0 FTE.

Director of Social Emotion Learning: Funded - Enrollment growth, high needs.

With higher enrollment and a growing need for guidance services because of increased student social-emotional challenges, including anxiety and related issues, the request includes a request for a director for pre-K through grade 12. This additional administrative support will allow service providers to support a coordinated approach to provide appropriate guidance services districtwide. Approximate cost: $95,000.

Director of Performing Arts K-12: Unfunded (but funded differently in FY18 ask in line 35) - Essential curriculum needs and enrollment growth.

We are proposing to increase the position from a 0.2 to a 0.5 full-time equivalent. Adding to this position will improve the district’s ability to hire an appropriate candidate. This administrator will also have some teaching responsibilities. Cost of this 0.5 full-time equivalent increase is $47,500.


This news summary was published Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017.

Arlington High School rebuild OK'd for next stage: Is it feasible?

How Arlington High School, parts of it built in 1914, looks today.How Arlington High School, part of it built in 1914, looks today. 

UPDATED, Feb. 16: The Massachusetts School Building Authority on Wednesday, Feb. 15, asked Arlington to see whether rebuilding or renovating Arlington High School is feasible.

This step advances the project, still five years away from expected completion. Next, the schools must hire a key figure behind the rebuild, an owner's project manager.

That manager, in cooperation with concert with the state building authority, will then hire an architect. Once the architect is hired, the administration and School Committee can begin the process of public outreach and engagement, likely starting in the fall.

That would be when parents and residents would offer ideas about the shape of the new school and the kind of education it would provide.

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie expressed her satisfaction with this decision in a news release Feb. 16, "I look forward to working with the Arlington community and the MSBA to plan for a building which will support high school education into the future. It is exciting that we have the opportunity to transform our high school at the same time as educational practices are transforming."

The state agency provides typical time ranges for steps in such a project:

* Hiring a project manager and an architect takes from six to nine months (the earliest possible one can be hired is June 5);

* The feasibility study and schematic design takes from 12 months to two years;

* Providing construction documents, offering bids and a main contractor takes 10 to 12 months; and

Construction takes two to three years.

Most of the information in this timeline was included in a Feb 15 email to the public from School Commitee Chair Jennifer Susse.

Looking at September 2022 opening

Susse also wrote: "If everything proceeds smoothly, we are probably looking at a September 2022 opening (right after my youngest graduates).

"It is possible that parts of the school will be finished earlier. It is also possible that the total project will take longer, given the difficulty of constructing a school in stages on a difficult site."

In advance of the Feb. 15 meeting in Boston, the School Committee met the afternoon before, as four members voted unanimously to approve procedures allowing the rebuild project to advance.

One vote by Susse, Bill Hayner, Paul Schlichtman and Kirsi Allison-Ampe authorized Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine to sign the feasibility-study agreement with the state school authority.

The authority did its part the next day and voted to enter the phase, known as Module 3 of the state's school building process. You can see what that module means here >> 

Feasibility studies "carefully examine potential solutions to the issues identified at the school facilities and will help us develop the most cost-effective plan to address those issues," state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg said in a news release.

One of 8 invited

The authority invited eight districts, including Arlington, into this second phase of collaboration.

The authority partners with Massachusetts communities to support the design and construction of educationally appropriate, flexible, sustainable and cost-effective public school facilities. Since its 2004 inception, the authority has made over 1,750 site visits to more than 250 school districts as part of its due diligence process and has made over $12.4 billion in reimbursements for school construction projects.

For more information on the Arlington High School project, click here >>

The authority first invited Arlington to enter the building process last May.

The news received a general welcome. Arlington High, whose oldest part dates to 1914, has not had a major addition since 1981, the year Proposition 2 1/1 took effect. In 1975, voters rejected an expansion.

Last June, Arlington voters took a different approach -- and approved a debt exclusion of $2 million to cover the cost of the feasibility study and design. The vote was 7,419 to 2,283, or 76 percent.

Many town leaders, AHS staffers, teachers and parents point to small, inappropriate classrooms and outdated equipment.

Officials have said that a new AHS would be eligible for a minimum of 30-percent state reimbursement for project costs.

During the feasibility period, authority and school officials will review options -- including renovation, a new school or rebuild-renovation combination -- to determine the best path to take.

To date, a 19-member High School Building Committee first met in December, and those involved agreed to a design enrollment number of 1,755 students.

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie has said that the design enrollment number is the number of students that can fit into all of the core classrooms in the school. For example, the state does not view a gymnasium, music rooms and some labs as core classrooms.

Current enrollment at AHS is 1,300 students.

Once the feasibility study is complete, the district moves on to working on schematic design.

Time to start imagining the kind of education a rebuild Arlington High would embrace, and a group of people connection ed to the Vision 2020 Education Task Group are doing that. Read about their brainstorming session in December. The group is planning another public session for March.


Dec. 18, 2016: Visions and revisions: Dialogue about education seeks to map fresh course

May 25, 2016: State says Arlington High School rebuild can advance

State Building Authority process >> 

Jan. 29, 2016: Arlington High School rebuild OK comes with a delay


This news summary was published Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, and updated Feb. 16, to add details.

5 AHS plumbing fixtures face replacement after elevated lead levels found

Chart showing elevated lead levels.Chart showing elevated lead levels at five locations.

UPDATED, Feb. 15: Parts of Arlington High School dating back more than 100 years have aging plumbing that, officials believe, is the source of lead and copper whose levels are above state limits in five places.

Those troubling fixtures, including sinks used by nursing and Menotomy Preschool staff as well as food preparation, are undergoing replacement by school maintenance employees.

"Lead is not believed to be in the water source but rather in plumbing fixtures in the building," a joint news release said, "resulting in an increase in the lead content in tap water.

Tests were also conducted at all seven elementary schools and the Ottoson Middle School. The results came back well below the Massachusetts Action Levels for lead and copper.

Grant received

The town recently received a grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection to conduct water sampling in all public-school buildings in town to assess the drinking water for lead and copper. During testing, five of the 28 water taps tested at AHS had lead levels that exceeded the Massachusetts Action Level for lead in drinking water at schools, said the release from Christine Bongiorno, director of Health and Human Services, and Bodie.

The Massachusetts Action Level for lead is 15 parts per billion (ppb). Three hand-washing sinks came back slightly above the level (15.4 to 19 ppb), while a mop sink and drinking fountain came back at a higher level (20-58.7 ppb).

Asked when testing occurred, Superintendent Kathleen Bodie wrote Tuesday, Feb. 14, all seven elementary schools as well as Ottoson were done last spring.

"AHS testing began the end of June and was completed later in the fall," she wrote. "Schools must be in session to test water for lead, which is why testing is not done over the summer."

Asked what gave rise to testing, and whether it spurred from a complaint, she wrote that schools across the Commonwealth and country are testing for lead in the water.

The nationwide push for such scrutiny increased following the discovery in 2014 of contaminated public drinking water in Flint, Mich. The Globe reported last April that the state has allotted $2 million for tests of schools' drinking water in the Commonwealth.

The money, that report said, would come from the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust, which is funded by a mix of state and federal dollars.

High lead levels found in 160 schools

In November, The Globe reported that high lead levels were found more than 160 school buildings in Massachusetts following extensive testing.

Asked when Arlington schools received the state grant and its amount, Bodie said she would have to check.

As to the contractor replacing the fixtures involved and the cost, she wrote: "The replacement of sinks and fixtures have been done by our maintenance staff. I do not have the cost breakouts yet."

Asked about whether the work underway to replace fixtures goes beyond the five discovered, she wrote: "It is only the five sinks/faucets that had lead numbers above the actionable level set by Massachusetts for the first draw.

"We will continue testing other water sources in the high school .... Any fixture that tests above the actionable level will be replaced."

When levels highest

With older fixtures, lead levels in the water are highest during the first draw on a plumbing fixture but diminish with use throughout the day. At each plumbing fixture tested, there were two samples taken. The first sample was the first draw of water for the day, and the second sample was after a 30-second flush.

All of the samples after the 30-second flush came back well below the Massachusetts Action Level.

This clearly indicates that the age and condition of the fixtures is the primary cause of the lead, and officials believe that once the fixtures are replaced, there will no longer be an issue.

Exposure to lead is a concern, because lead is a toxic metal that has a range of adverse health effects primarily in children under 6 years old if they drink the water. Hand washing does not expose the body to the dangers of lead.

Itron water logo

This clearly indicates that the age and condition of the fixtures is the primary cause of the lead, and officials believe that once the fixtures are replaced, there will no longer be an issue.

Exposure to lead is a concern, because lead is a toxic metal that has a range of adverse health effects primarily in children under 6 years old if they drink the water. Hand washing does not expose the body to the dangers of lead.

Steps taken

The Arlington Public School Department has taken the following steps to address the issue of lead in the water:

-- All plumbing fixtures with lead levels over the Action Level have been removed, and each fixture will be replaced with a safe new fixture.

-- The schools have developed a sampling plan to conduct additional testing at additional plumbing fixtures (faucets, water fountains, etc.) where students and staff get water for drinking, beverage preparation and cooking.

-- The schools have installed a reverse osmosis water-filtration system at the preschool, day-care center and nurse's office, all in the high school, which removes lead, copper and other unwanted items from the water.

"The water supply in our school buildings is a vital issue and something that we take very seriously," Bodie said in the release. "We are moving immediately in partnership with the MassDEP and the Arlington Board of Health to further protect the health of students, faculty and staff, and we are confident that the problem has been addressed."

The water system at the High School is not unlike water systems found in other buildings in town. Older plumbing systems and fixtures can contain lead pipes or solder that can allow lead to enter tap water. Please visit: arlingtonma.gov/health to find out more about health effects of lead and how to limit exposure.

Following these test results, Arlington is seeking to expand its voluntary testing of water fixtures in public buildings and will make additional replacements where necessary.


State Department of Energy & Environmental Affairs: Lead and copper in schools

Globe, Nov. 16, 2016: High lead levels found more than 160 school buildings in Mass.

April 16, 2016: Mass. earmarks $2 million to test for lead in public schools’ water


This announcement was published Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. 

Task force supports Hardy cafeteria expansion

The School Enrollment Task Force has unanimously supported an informal motion to expand of the Hardy School cafeteria, with the exact plan and cost to be determined.

town seal

School Committee logoSeven members of the task force were present for the Wednesday, Feb. 8, meeting, attended by four members of the public.

With the evening's agenda focused on the Hardy addition and the need to expand the cafeteria to accommodate the projected enrollment, a report from the architect, HMFH, said the firm had explored three options. All included changes to the existing interior space to open up the cafeteria. In general, they seek to remove:

1. The wall between the cafeteria and the corridor, and close that off during lunch periods;

2. The stage and the ramp in the cafeteria; and

3. The school's central stairway, gaining more space in the cafeteria in the first floor and more breakout room space in the upper floors.

During the discussion of these options, another idea was proposed. This would include using one (or combining two) of the classrooms across the hallway to create a second cafeteria space. While there are lots of unanswered questions about how this would work, it appeared to draw support from the task force.

The group said these options should be more fully explored and vetted once the architect for the project is selected and on board. But, in general, the task force supports including a cafeteria expansion in the Hardy addition project.

Resident Ginna Smith Reeder commented about the importance of making sure the school facility functions in all ways -- beyond just the classroom size -- for the projected enrollment.

In addition to four other task force members, present were Superintendent Kathleen Bodie and Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine. Also present was Hardy Principal Kristen DiFrancisco.


Dec. 22, 2016: Task force supports 6-classroom Hardy addition

Nov. 4, 2016: School Committee votes task-force recommendation for Hardy space study
Oct. 11, 2016: Enrollment task force backs 6 Thompson classrooms, no mods at Ottoson
April 14, 2016: School Committee supports educational recommendation for Gibbs option
March 28, 2016: School Committee votes to express sense of urgency about enrollment moves
March 22, 2016: Long Range Planning faces debt-exclusion decisions
March 9, 2016: Task force hopes interim cost data for school options ready in a month
Nov. 15, 2014: Racism? Bodie says updated numbers show decline in out-of-school suspensions
Dec. 14, 2015: Variety of views offered as task force grapples with growth
Dec. 2, 2015: Enrollment task force holds first meeting
Oct. 11, 2015: CROWDING CRUNCH: Arts, educators, nonprofit make pitches
Sept. 28, 2015: As public-school enrollment rises, officials, public grapple with future

This announcement was published Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017. Ginna Smith Reeder provided the information for this Feb. 10 update of the agenda announcement.

Schools' assistant superintendent to stay here

Dr. Laura ChessonChesson

UPDATED, Feb. 1: Dr. Laura S. Chesson, assistant superintendent of Arlington public schools since June 2012, will remain in town.

Among three finalists for Concord superintendent, Dr. Laurie Hunter, assistant superintendent in Duxbury, has been chosen to lead Concord schools. The third finalist was are Bella Wong, superintendent/principal in the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional School District. Concord Superintendent Diana Rigby retires in June.

In a statement to YourArlington, Chesson wrote that she wouldl be interviewed Thursday, Jan. 26. "My time in the Arlington public schools has been personally and professionally fulfilling," she wrote. "The community, staff and students are outstanding. It was a very difficult decision to choose to explore this opportunity. If not selected, I will continue to serve the Arlington public schools with pleasure."

If she had been selected, Chesson would have been the second high-level administrator to leave as the budget process heads into high gear. Chief Financial Officer Diane Johnson is leaving to take a similar position at a school in Lancaster on Feb. 10.

Chesson was highly involved in improving classroom technology as well as in putting into effect the ever-changing platfiorms for student testing.

A screening committee of Concord parents, teachers and administrators chose the three from seven resumes.

A representative for Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates told a joint meeting of school committees that it had received 53 resumes and sent seven to the screening committee. The panel held confidential interviews with the seven candidates to choose the three finalists.

The school committees are interviewing the finalists individually on successive nights, from Jan. 25 through 27, so Chesson is the second to be interviewed. These interviews are open to the public and begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Willard Elementary School auditorium. Residents have an opportunity to present questions to the candidates.

The school committees are expected to announce the preferred candidate at their joint meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 31, subject to a background check and contract negotiation.

Wong is the only finalist who has been a superintendent -- in the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional School District since July 2013 and was Wellesley superintendent from 2007 to 2012.

Before Chesson came to Arlington, she was principal at Maynard High School from 2008 to 2012.

Hunter has been assistant superintendent in Duxbury for the past four years. From 1999 to 2013, she was principal at Freetown Lakeville Public School in Lakeville.


This summary was published Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017, and updated Feb. 1.

 

Parents react to first look at planned changes for former Gibbs

Former Gibbs School, August 2015,Finegold Alexander Architects' sketch envisioning how the entry to the renovated former Gibbs School will look.

UPDATED, Jan. 23: The dingy, flood-prone building that townie's used to call Junior High East expects to return to life in 20 months, its architect hopes, as a revamped school for sixth-graders only.

Before that happens, Finegold Alexander Architects will deal with a number of concerns expressed by parents. At the Jan. 17 unveiling of some proposed sketches and floor plans, school officials heard the following from among the estimated 50 people in the Ottoson cafeteria:

-- Transportation: Phil Goff, a parent, who is cochair of the East Arlington Livable Streets Coalition, asked about bicycle parking. Regan Shields Ives, principal at Finegold Alexander, said the firm will revisit the number of expected cyclists.

-- Outside spaces: Apart from hoped-for plans for a garden and an outdoor classroom, Chris Loreti pointed to the basketball court that he said is "grossly underused."

-- Parking: With 66 spaces needed and 71 on the lot, one parent said this abundance represented the possibility of cutting the lot in half and change how it is used depending on the weather.

'Chopped up'

Ives called the existing building, which houses four tenants, "chopped up," and the architect seeks "a unified building," designed to include use as a community resource.

Overall, the aim of the school's design, Ives said, is to "add a feeling of welcome," particularly in the main entryway, off Foster Street, hoping to offer "a sense of neighborhood."

Inside, the renovation will not expand the building -- it will remove parts that bar access and open the hallways, entrances, classrooms and library. Color-coded clusters and light aim to add to the allure.

"It's a major step in getting the floor plan," Superintendent Kathleen Bodie told those gathered.

Officials said Jan. 17 that initial costs for the renovation would be $16 million. The amount to pay for the Gibbs project publicly stated before the successful override vote last June was $25 million. That part of the vote passed 7,196 to 2,595, or 74 percent.

Further issues

Parents raised other issues:

-- Busing: Bodie said the administration is looking at the two-mile limit within which students may be bused. She said the administration has asked the capital planning committee for an added bus.

-- Streets: Another parent asked whether the one-way directions of Tufts and Fosters streets could be reversed. That remains unknown, as the change would affect whole neighborhoods.

-- Flooding (drainage): The architect plans to address these issues in the front of the building, at Foster Street.

-- Band location: "All of this will be explained in coming months," Bodie said, indicating this was among many questions yet to be determined. "We will be looking at staffing .... "We would like to minimize" having people go between buildings.

-- Noise affecting neighbors: Ives said the project must meet LEED requirements, or design principles reflecting "green" best practices.

-- Continued growth: Bodie said she expects it, as 40 more students are forecast for next year at Ottoson.

-- Auditorium: It has 250 seats and its use by Arlington Children's Theatre is expected to continue; assemblies would be in the gym)

-- Play structures: Current ones will be removed.

-- Close entry off Foster: Responses were uncertain. The driveway leading to the parking lot would needs to be monitored for safety. A speaker noted the entry allows access to a delivery.

Work to begin in late June

Overall, the Boston-based architect aims to complete the design by month's end so the construction work can go out to bid. Renovations is expected to begin in late June, just after school lets out, and will continue throughout next year. Opening is planned for September 2018.

Finishing building plans, which have taken longer than expected, has been the architect's top priority. School officials plan further conversations about how to best split the middle school between two campuses.

Bodie said coordinating extracurricular activities with the Ottoson needs to be resolved. Band, for example, includes students from all three middle-school grades.

Aiding in the process will be an advisory committee, composed of representatives from each of the town's seven elementary schools.

Plans for the renovated building includes these further points:

-- The kitchen/cafeteria will be built in what is now a locker room. An earlier facility, part of a cafetorium, has been removed for the most part.

-- The bus drop-off is proposed for Tufts Street, near a secondary entrance. Parking restrictions are expected on Tufts and Foster during school hours. Student drop-off is to be on the east side of Foster and the west side of Tufts.

-- On the first floor will be a cafeteria, world language classrooms, a technology lab, the auditorium, music space and
offices for administration and guidance.

-- The second floor includes two of the four clusters, with four classrooms each. The gymnasium, library and
media room and an art space are also on the second floor.

-- The third floor contains the last two clusters and another special-education room.

-- The current plan is for three lunches in the cafeteria, each for about 150 students.

The Gibbs Schools closed in the 1980s. Since 1989, the space has been used by Arlington Center for the Arts, the Lesley Ellis School, Learn to Grow preschool and the Kelliher Center.

The arts center is raising money so it can move space in the Senior Center. Construction of a new building for Learn to Grow is underway at Broadway and North Union. Lesley Ellis is moving to Winter Street as the Dearborn School moves to Newton.

Only Eliot Community Human Services has not spoken publicly about where the Kelliher Center, a program for the developmentally disabled, will go.


 Regan Shields Ives narrated a presentation of these slides (large file)

Slides shown labeled Finegold Alexander of Boston and New Vista Design in Jamaica Plain

Oct. 4, 2016: Community enrollment group sets out priorities for ex-Gibbs renovation

May 27, 2016: School Committee votes to support 6th-grade only at Gibbs
May 2, 2016: School enrollment task force chooses Gibbs option
May 1, 2016: School enrollment task force weighs Ottoson vs. Gibbs options
April 14, 2016: School Committee supports educational recommendation for Gibbs option
Dec. 14, 2015: <Variety of views offered as task force grapples with growth
Oct. 11, 2015: CROWDING CRUNCH: Arts, educators, nonprofit make pitches
Sept. 28, 2015: As public-school enrollment rises, officials, public grapple with future
Space Planning Report for Arlington Public Schools," HMFH Architects, September 2015 
"Arlington Public Schools Population and Enrollment Forecasts," Dr. Jerome McKibben, McKibben Demographic Research, June 2015 

This announcement was published Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, and updated Monday, Jan. 23, as a news summary.

Brackett draws commendation from state education chief

Awards logo

Brackett Elementary School has been honored as a Massachusetts Commendation School for 2016, based on high academic achievement.

Mitchell D. Chester, state commissioner of elementary and secondary education, included the Brackett on a list of 50 other public and charter schools in the state recognized for achievement, progress, narrowing proficiency gaps or a combination of these categories.

"Brackett's achievement is well-earned and comes as a result of hard work by students and teachers, and strong support from families," Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said in a news release issued Wednesday, Jan. 4. "I congratulate the entire school community."

Principal Stephanie Zerchykov accepted the congratulations, saying in the release: "Results like these depend on what happens each day in every classroom, across the entire school, from kindergarten to grade five. We are humbled that the school has been recognized in this way."

The honored schools will receive a commemorative certificate at the State House on Feb. 1.

Commendation is earned by performance on Massachusetts standardized tests, which in 2016 included Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment system (MCAS).

Massachusetts is developing its next-generation MCAS, which should be instituted statewide in 2019.

For more information and to see the list of 51 commended schools, click here >>


State report cards

See the reports for all nine Arlington public schools from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education >> 


This news release was published Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.

AHS science teacher honored

RaadDanielle Raad, an Arlington High School science teacher, has been named  the American Association for the Advancement of Science Teacher of the Month.

She teaches physical science for ninth grade as well as physics and archaeology.

Check out this link to read more about her work and this honor >>


This announcement was published Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017.

Task force supports 6-classroom Hardy addition

The School Enrollment Task Force met Wednesday, Dec. 21, to review an architectural study for expansion of the Hardy School. The study was conducted by HMFH Architects  and can be found here >> Hardy Principal Kristin DeFrancisco attended and answered questions and gave input about Hardy's needs.

town seal

School Committee logoThe task force adopted a motion to support, in principle, the plan to build a six-classroom addition to open in fall 2018, pending more input from the relevant committees.

 They need to determine where the money is going to come from but agree that this is the right way to address space needs at Hardy.

The study compared the costs of using four modular classrooms versus a four-classroom or a six-classroom addition. The estimated cost for four modular classrooms is about $1.4 million. Cost for a four-classroom addition is about $1.4 million to $1.6 million, and cost for a six-classroom addition is about $2.1 million to 2.4 million. More detail is in the report.

Forecasts suggest that Hardy would need the additional classroom space for at least six years. Modulars typically can't be used for more than five years before they need to be repaired or replaced. The town would also have to buy them rather than lease them. The break-even point for that is five years. 

Charlie Foskett, the chair of the Capital Planning Committee and the vice chair of the Finance Committee, said that looking at the numbers, bricks and mortar makes sense for the town. In the end, we'll have an asset, and since you can't borrow for modulars, the town would need to come up with the money all at once.

If we build and bond for 25 years, the town can spread out the cost, he said. The task force was in agreement.

Task force members will take this recommendation back to their respective committees (Finance, Capital Planning, Permanent Town Building and School) and details of funding will be discussed. The task force will reconvene Wednesday, Feb. 8, at 6 p.m.

The proposed addition would add to an existing classroom wing and is relatively easy to do, since the corridors can be extended and the current stairwells and egresses can still be used. The kindergarten play structure would need to be moved to the Lake Street side and the new wing would go there. It would be three levels of two classrooms each.

Hardy definitely needs three new classrooms, member said. However, the teachers have given up their planning and lunch space, they were told. They now use a space that's about one-third the size of a regular classroom, but it's very challenging, so the larger addition would give them back that space. It's also possible that another ELL classroom will be needed with growing enrollment, members learned.

The principal also pointed out that Hardy is not able to meet demand for the after-school program and additional programming space for that would be very useful.

Because of enrollment growth, Hardy's current playground space is inadequate, and the project will look into developing the lawn on Lake Street for this type of use (kindergarteners are already using it sometimes, but the conditions are challenging). The undersized cafeteria is also a major concern that will be looked at more closely in future studies.

The possibility of making the lower level of the addition a more flexible space was also discussed. They can put in a movable wall so the two classrooms could be used together or separately. This is being done with the Thompson addition so it can be used for some gym activities, such as yoga.

The idea is that the addition would open for fall 2018, but this is all pending discussion by the relevant committees and dependent on funding. This was the task force's third meeting for 2016-17.

The Hardy was the third elementary school of seven to be renovated in a program of renovation or rebuilding that began in 1998, with the Brackett.


Nov. 4, 2016: School Committee votes task-force recommendation for Hardy space study

Oct. 11, 2016: Enrollment task force backs 6 Thompson classrooms, no mods at Ottoson
April 14, 2016: School Committee supports educational recommendation for Gibbs option
March 28, 2016: School Committee votes to express sense of urgency about enrollment moves
March 22, 2016: Long Range Planning faces debt-exclusion decisions
March 9, 2016: Task force hopes interim cost data for school options ready in a month
Nov. 15, 2014: Racism? Bodie says updated numbers show decline in out-of-school suspensions
Dec. 14, 2015: Variety of views offered as task force grapples with growth
Dec. 2, 2015: Enrollment task force holds first meeting
Oct. 11, 2015: CROWDING CRUNCH: Arts, educators, nonprofit make pitches
Sept. 28, 2015: As public-school enrollment rises, officials, public grapple with future

This news summary was written by Kate Leary of Arlington and posted on the Arlington School Enrollment Community Group Facebook site. It is republished with permission on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016.

Follow-up held to AHS film aiming to spur dialogue on education

Films logo

UPDATED, Dec. 6: Vision 2020's community dialogue on education continued Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 7 to 9 p.m., in the Lyons Room, second floor, Town Hall.

It continued the comments spurred by the free public screening of the critically acclaimed documentary "Most Likely to Succeed" -- kicking off the dialogue on education Nov. 16, in Lowe Auditorium, Arlington High.

The goal of these meetings is to establish community principles for how Arlington defines success in its public schools.

At the Nov. 16 meeting, “Most Likely to Succeed” challenges communities like Arlington to rethink public education to better equip kids for societal and technological changes. A number of themes were raised including personalized learning, project-based learning and alternative assessment approaches (nontesting).

A central idea in the film is how a community definition of success determines what is taught, how it is taught and everything a student experiences in school. The film encourages viewers to focus more on a student’s personal growth and less on test scores or content coverage.

On Nov. 16, in a spirited panel session, AHS Principal Dr. Matt Janger made the powerful distinction between “Being Educated” and “Being good at School.” This point along with many of the themes in the film we viewed resonated with the audience of more than 100 people.

Those involved plan to pick up on this point and others on Wednesday and explore three questions:

• What does it mean to be educated? (What’s the purpose?)
• What skills, capabilities, and experiences do students need in the 21st century?
• How might we define success for our schools?

The objective Dec. 7 is to build community principles to influence Arlington’s educational vision.

Come prepared to share your viewpoints. We’d like to learn from the community’s valuable and enduring learning experiences. What do you remember the most from your k-12 experience? What had the most impact on your education and personal growth? What do you see in your children’s school experience that’s had the biggest impact on them?

This is the first is a series of meetings over the coming months to generate community principles. You are encouraged to attend even if you missed the film.

Supporting the dialogue is Arlington’s Vision 2020 Education Task Group working in collaboration with the Arlington Public Schools and the School Committee.


This announcement was published Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, and updated Dec. 6.

3rd vandalism incident in 4 months closes Stratton cafeteria, gym

Stratton image

UPDATED TWICE: For the third time in four months, vandals have broken into the Stratton School -- the latest over the weekend, closing the cafeteria and gym on Monday, Dec. 5.

In an email to parents, Principal Michael Hanna wrote to school families early in the day: "Unfortunately there was another incident of vandalism at Stratton school over the weekend. In order to maintain student safety and facilitate the cleanup, we will close the cafeteria and gym today."

In an evening update to parents, Hanna wrote: "It appears that vandals gained access to the gym and cafeteria via the temporary door in the temporary breezeway. The issue appears to be some combination of properly securing the door, and the door itself needing some reinforcement.

Read more ...

School Committee votes task-force recommendation for Hardy space study

UPDATED: The School Enrollment Task Force has unanimously recommended to the School Committee that it fund a study to be conducted by HMFH, architectural firm that designed the new Thompson, of the space needs of the Hardy School and then offer recommendations for possible solutions to these needs.

The committee responded Thursday, Nov. 10, by unanimously approving the request for funding the study of the Hardy.

town seal

Using updated enrollment numbers, the firm has been asked to analyze the programmatic needs of the school and determine the relative costs of using modular classrooms or building a permanent addition to accommodate the increased enrollment. The study would be done at a cost of $10,000 or less and be completed by mid-December, when the task force will reconvene. School Committee logo

Before the motion was passed, the task force, meeting Monday, Nov. 7, engaged in an extensive discussion about the Hardy, centering on three big issues: the impact of the Mugar development, the current space needs of the Hardy and the issues that an outside firm would need to study.

The task force recognized that the uncertainty about the Mugar development complicated planning. Oaktree, the Cambridge developer for the Mugar proposal, has appealed a zoning board vote regarding the amount of affordable housing in town, an action expected to lead to delays. With that in mind, task-force members decided to take a worst-case approach.

In addition, School Committee member Bill Hayner said, "People don't always follow statistical studies."

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine began the discussion by introducing two studies on spreadsheets about the projected impact of the Mugar development. These spreadsheets, created by the Adam Kurowski, town director of GIS, compared the number of current Hardy students living in single-family houses, condos and apartments with one- through three-bedrooms proposed units at the Mugar site (104 one-bedroom, 92 two-bedrooms and 23 three-bedrooms) in order to find a rough estimate for increased enrollment. The rough estimate derived from these data is approximately an average of 30 new students, with a range of 11 to 43.

Mugar timeline, 4 classrooms projected

Chapdelaine informed the task force that construction of the development, if eventually approved, would occur three to seven years out, depending on how long the town opposes the development. Task force member Jeff Thielman, of the School Committee, calculated that if the Mugar development went forward, the town would have at least two years before Mugar students would enter the Arlington Public Schools, enough time to engage in planning. Several members questioned whether potential enrollment numbers of 20 to 23 would require the task force to take action now.

Superintendent Kathleen Bodie began this discussion by announcing that the Hardy would soon need four classes at each grade level. Currently, the school has four classes for kindergarten through the second grade for a total number of 21 classrooms. The following three years would require an additional classroom each year. At the end of the third year, the school would be using 24 classrooms, independent of any possible impact of the Mugar development.

Task force member Al Tosti, chair of the Finance Committee, inquired about the state of modulars at the Thompson once the addition is finished by next September. Bodie replied that the modulars, rented for two years, will be held in reserve in case construction is not completed and then would be needed for classrooms for another year. If the construction is completed on schedule, they will be rented to Arlington recreation for Kid Care, an after-school program, which will be displaced by construction at the former Gibbs school. She added that the Thompson modulars were smaller than those at the Stratton.

In terms of core space at the Hardy, Bodie reported that the gym area was still adequate, but the cafeteria is already overcrowded, with students eating lunch on the stage.

Additional issues for study

Task force members recommended additional issues to be studied by the architectural firm. Bodie asked that HMFH expand its study to give the best recommendations for the years out, especially on the acquiring modulars or building permanent construction. She also wanted the firm to do cost comparisons on different ways to buy modulars and the feasibility of building on the site of the Hardy School. Of special concern is whether the property allows for expansion.

Tosti asked whether the Thompson enrollments and space could be part of the study. Bodie replied it had been considered earlier and could be again, but all indications are "the Thompson could not absorb any more students." And she warns the task force, "Doing nothing is not an option."

Other suggestions for the HMFH study included doing its analysis with and without the proposed Mugar numbers and reconfiguring the space at Hardy. These additional issues for the study to consider raised the proposed fee from the original $5,000, first mentioned by Bodie, to $10,000.

Other business included approving the last meeting’s minutes with a correction of the number of grades requiring four classrooms. This mistake was pointed out by Hardy parent Greg Sullivan, during the public-comment period.

Virginia Reeder, a Hardy parent and Precinct 2 Town Meeting member, also spoke at this time and asked the task force to “keep community members engaged” as they want “to be partners” as possible solutions to the Hardy are looked at.

The next meeting was set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21, in the School Committee Room, Arlington High.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:40.

At its first fall meeting, Oct. 7, the task force endorsed a motion to add six classrooms as permanent construction to the Thompson School and recommended no action on adding modular classrooms at Ottoson.

Both, passed unanimously, were referred to the Finance Committee. Charlie Foskett, Fincom vice chairman, reported that the panel Thursday, Oct. 7, voted unanimously on: Article 2, (modulars) no action; Article 3, (Thompson) favorably $4 million. Read the full Fincom report here >> 


Oct. 11, 2016: Enrollment task force backs 6 Thompson classrooms, no mods at Ottoson

April 14, 2016: School Committee supports educational recommendation for Gibbs option
March 28, 2016: School Committee votes to express sense of urgency about enrollment moves
March 22, 2016: Long Range Planning faces debt-exclusion decisions
March 9, 2016: Task force hopes interim cost data for school options ready in a month
Nov. 15, 2014: Racism? Bodie says updated numbers show decline in out-of-school suspensions
Dec. 14, 2015: Variety of views offered as task force grapples with growth
Dec. 2, 2015: Enrollment task force holds first meeting
Oct. 11, 2015: CROWDING CRUNCH: Arts, educators, nonprofit make pitches
Sept. 28, 2015: As public-school enrollment rises, officials, public grapple with future

This agenda was published Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, and published Thursday, Nov. 11, as a news story written by Jo Anne Preston, YourArlington freelancer.  It was updated that night with the School Committee vote.

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