First, we are on vacation this week. The news doesn’t rest but once in a while we do. Hence, postings are made as schedule and time permit. Here are some noteworthy items from last week’s planning board and school committee meetings.
Alex Whiteside recused himself from a hearing regarding development on Hillside Street. Whiteside is an abutter to an abutter and while he said the distance of his property may not fall within the strict guidelines, it has potential for being “an appellate issue. . . and I am not going to participate as a member of the board in this particular matter.”Ms. McEttrick, an attorney representing the developer, presented an update.
A central issue to the development is access to it. The developer wants to use the existing driveway he owns and to which abutters have rights of way. However abutters object to that and it has been proposed that the developer come in off of Ford Ranch Road. McEttrick has researched that option and been advised that they would be unlikely to get approval from DEP due to wetland and conservation issues. McEttrick reiterated that the proposal is in compliance with the zoning and the work done to driveway is work anyone of the abutters could do. “We’ve met all the requirements. [There is ] no substantial detriment . . .in fact, there is a benefit with the new utility and water lines,” said McEttrick.
However, Whiteside’s recusal created another issue as Member Lynch was absent. This resulted in a suspension of the hearing. Hearings require four members to be present. It was unclear whether this was Mr. Lynch’s second absence from a hearing on this matter and, consequently, might disqualify him. The hearing ended and will be continued on the 23rd at 8:00PM. Residents present were not pleased. “Do you see steam coming out of my ears?” one asked.
At the school committee meeting there was a short discussion of the 1st grade enrollment policy. The committee is reviewing a recommendation from Superintendent Gormley to cap the French program in fall 2013. There was no vote on the recommendation.
Committee Member Kelly requested more data for all elementary grades and “numbers at the middle and high school levels.” Bagley Jones voiced need to look at integration efforts between the French and English classes at the lower grades. During the Citizen Speak Response portion of agenda, Ms. Bagley Jones acknowledged the angst the issue was causing. She also cautioned all including parents to watch the heated rhetoric. “My kid was called a french fry,” she noted and she worries about impact that harsh words can have on teachers and students.
Mr. Pavlicek addressed the suggestion of adding the International Baccalaureate program. He researched it and noted it was not a program but would be a “school” within the district and have a substantial price tag and for those reasons “may not be a good fit.”
During the Citizen Speak portions of the meeting the committee heard from Jim Mulligan who asked that the cap be put in place and Brian Buck who asked that the committee take more time in making that decision. Mulligan asked if there was a strategic plan, something we could benchmark the programs against. Buck said he found it hard to believe that a cap was the only way to address the imbalance between the French and English programs.
One method for addressing the imbalance that has been made by many parents is to provide the English program with a distinctive and compelling offering. The administration possibly in response to that presented adding a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) component to the English program. Ms. Gormley did not provide specific details but did say it would be offered in the English program only and would be a differentiator. Committee members discussed and questioned the offering: is it a pilot program? how does it fit into the strategic plan? Member Walker said, “This is a good idea. If we get started we fleshed out as we go . . . Let’s get started and we’ll work it out.”
More info will be provided regarding the program shortly. Regarding the enrollment process, the administration has been posting the questions and answers of a FAQ online. You can find that here.