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100WVN #100: Town Center Forum/School Comm Looks Ahead

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  • waylandvoters2
    Jul 23, 2005
      Wayland Voters Network
      July 23, 2005

      Dear Wayland Voter,

      The proposed Town Center commercial-residential project is drawing
      considerable attention, and some skepticism. More than 40 residents
      attended a recent Planning Board session to air their concerns. The
      Road Commissioners will seek public opinion about traffic impacts at
      a public forum at 7:30 p.m. at the Town Building on Tuesday July 26.

      Wayland Citizens Against Reckless Development, calling itself a
      grassroots organization, is calling attention to potentially huge
      traffic problems, asking "Are you ready for 19,000 more cars a day?"
      See www.WaylandCARD.blogspot.com.

      For information from the developers and their supporters, see

      For the Planning Board's work on the project, see www.wayland.ma.us.

      On another subject, we are gratified at the response to our call for
      volunteers to make copies for neighbors lacking email. Dozens of
      Waylanders are now receiving our newsletters this way. But many have
      not been matched yet. So we ask again, if you are willing to make and
      deliver copies (no more than four) of our newsletters for neighbors
      without email, please reply to this message and let us know.

      The following report on the School Committee retreat on June 27 was
      prepared by WVN subscriber Tom Sciacca.

      SC 6/27/05: Looking Ahead

      The School Committee held a "retreat" in the Public Safety Building
      conference room to consider longer-range strategic issues. They heard
      background reports from Director of Technology Jean Tower regarding
      technology, Director of Student Services Doris Goldthwaite on the
      special needs program, and Assistant Superintendent Wayne Ogden on
      curriculum. Most of the discussion focused on issues primarily of
      internal interest to the School Department. A few notes of broader

      Member Bob Gordon said that every year the School Department is asked
      to help the town with its computer services, and asked whether they
      are in any better position to help now than last year. The consensus
      was that the Town simply doesn't have enough technical resources and
      would drag down the school services.

      There are now 550 children with special needs contracts and parents
      are increasingly asserting their rights. The state will do a "program
      review" of Wayland next year, checking that all SPED regulations are
      being met. " I am pleased that we were able to stabilize the
      percentage of kids in Sped," said Goldthwaite. "I think our special
      education program is outstanding. I do think people move here to take
      advantage of it," said Superintendent Gary Burton.

      With regard to curriculum, Burton said, "We invest more money in
      teaching literacy skills than any other aspect of our curriculum."
      Member Louis Jurist said, "Elementary math is recognized as a
      potential weakness." Ogden said the math audit currently underway
      would result in ten recommendations for next year. Burton
      commented, "Our Fine Arts program is clearly a priority in this
      school system." Ogden explained that the high school is the least
      sophisticated of Wayland's schools in having multiple ways of
      teaching to match differing ways of learning.

      Moving on, Chair Jeff Dieffenbach led a brief discussion of the Open
      Meeting Law, including restrictions on casual meetings, email, and
      telephone meetings. He said that in general the chair should talk to
      the press. "If they call you, refer them to me," he said.

      Member Heather Pineault spoke to the issue of community
      relations. "We need to do a better job of reaching out to the
      public," she said, suggesting a regular Crier column as a
      possibility. She suggested an early fall budget hearing to involve
      the public early in the budget process. Dieffenbach skeptically
      asked, "What would the outline of (such a hearing) be?" Member
      Barbara Fletcher commented, "We need to continue to go the extra
      step." Jurist added, "We should show what we're NOT funding to hold
      the bottom line." Burton interjected, "You should come up with what
      you believe is an appropriate level of funding regardless of what the
      Fincom says."

      As the discussion turned to a potential override vote next year,
      Jurist noted that the Fincom had already said another one would be
      needed next year and yet the override passed comfortably in April, so
      he questioned the concern among the members about another override
      passing next year. Pineault responded that they really need to show
      next year that they have done everything they can to cut costs to
      justify another override.

      Burton said that some people just say you should run the schools for
      less money. Gordon responded, "I think virtually everyone, even
      school supporters, asks thatÂ…I think it's time to talk seriously
      about selling our property - what if we strike a deal to encumber tax
      revenues from the development (of sold-off school property) for
      school purposes?" Dieffenbach suggested trading the school department
      parcel on Alpine Road for land at the Paine Estate, which he
      described as currently not being used. Pineault responded, "It's
      conservation land. It's being used."

      Burton told the committee, "We're the seventh or eighth most
      expensive school district to operate in the state," but he believes
      that's what the School Committee and the town want.

      Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to your
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      Wayland Voters Network
      Margo Melnicove and Michael Short, Editors