WVN #54: High School Abutters Seek Involvement in Decision Making
- Wayland Voters Network
December 23, 2004
Dear Wayland Voter,
First, we want to wish you, your family and friends a wonderful
holiday season. We are grateful for your interest in our newsletter,
and look forward to continuing to provide information about issues
that affect everyone in Wayland.
This newsletter is a report on last Monday's School Committee meeting
(12/20/04), prepared by WVN subscriber Tom Sciacca.
HIGH SCHOOL SITE ABUTTERS SEEK INVOLVEMENT IN DECISION MAKING
This regular meeting of the School Committee began with Kathy
Siracusa, a resident of the Charena Farms neighborhood abutting the
high school, reading a letter to the committee from a number of
neighbors asking for increased participation in the planning process
for the proposed new high school. As previously reported, they are
concerned about the effect a number of elements of the project might
have on their quality of life, including playing fields, the
wastewater treatment plant, and a secondary access road. The letter
requests a formal role in the process, with two or three neighborhood
reps to see raw data as soon as it is available and monitor its use
all the way to decision making. Siracusa said that the neighborhood
wants a project it can support, and that will support neighborhood
Siracusa left without receiving any substantive response from the
School Committee, but near the end of the meeting members discussed
the matter. Some members said that the neighbors had the same right
to attend High School Building Committee meetings as anyone else and
should have been doing so. Member Fred Knight suggested that they
add the neighbors to the HSBC email listserv (without giving them
posting rights, however). Others suggested specific meetings could
be arranged between abutters and the architect and project manager.
Another suggestion was to specifically notify neighbors of meetings
with regulators and other town departments. (These may not be posted
public meetings because they may involve town employees but not a
quorum of any town board.) Chair Lori Frieling assumed
responsibility to work with HSBC chair Lea Anderson to write a letter
to abutters suggesting these moves.
[Meanwhile, another Charena Farms resident, Rosie Rosenzweig,
appeared before the selectmen to comment on the petition letter. She
appealed to the board to give the abutters "a process" by which their
concerns would be taken into account. She said abutters have
felt "out of the loop" and referred to "two surprises that were very
strange to us." One was the original plan to build on the old high
school field and then, when that was abandoned because of
environmental concerns, to be told that it was abandoned to
accommodate the neighbors. The other surprise was "the sewage
treatment plant, which really threw us."
"Pretend you live right next to the sewage treatment plant,"
Rosenzweig urged the selectmen. "Pretend you live there and think
what's going on. We really want input...."
Selectmen Chair Betsy Connolly told Rosenzweig that she would be
invited to the board's meeting with Mary Lentz (the selectmen's
representative on the High School Building Committee) after the first
of the year.]
Back to the School Committee meeting: Superintendent Gary Burton
shared the results of his survey of parents who chose to send their
children to a private high school this year, rather than letting them
enter Wayland High. As reported previously, a surprisingly large
number of students entered private high schools this year. This is
significant because the original major rationale for the proposed new
high school was enrollment increase, which is not materializing at
the levels originally predicted. Burton had previously speculated
that it was the specter of the proposed building project that had
created a flight from Wayland High School. The implication was that
upon completion of the project, the rate of private school enrollment
would return to historic levels. However, Burton said he found no
pattern to the parental responses, and even contradictory answers.
One parent, for example, said he thought Wayland put too much
emphasis on athletics and wanted his child to attend a school that is
more academically focused, while another parent said exactly the
opposite. The bottom line, Burton said, was that he and High School
Principal Charlie Ruopp "didn't learn much."
Burton also updated the committee on the failing water fixtures in
the Middle School. Nine "hot spots" were retested after letting the
water run a bit, and two failed again. This apparently is not a
problem with the water supply to the school or the piping within the
school, but with the fixtures themselves. It is common in
residences, as well. Fixtures often contain heavy metals in, for
example, the solder that holds the various pieces together, and some
of those metals can leach into water that is left standing in them
for a while. That's why it is recommended to run the water for a
minute or two before using it to make your morning coffee. Burton
said that the failing fixtures were being replaced.
Budgeting: Burton announced he was working hard on next year's
operating budget, and complained that he was feeling pressure (in
opposite directions) from his staff and from the Finance Committee.
He will make a budget presentation to the School Committee at their
meeting on January 10. Subsequent working sessions, when the SC will
go over the details and approve, disapprove, or add specific items,
will be held on January 11 and 18. These sessions will be open to
the public, but the public will be allowed to comment only during the
usual public comment periods at the beginning and end of the
sessions. All will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Member Heather Pineault reported on the status of the Tax Relief Task
Force, a group with representatives from a number of town bodies
which has been meeting to generate ideas for helping economically
stressed seniors. One idea is to make vouchers available to help pay
for heating oil and other similar expenses. This could be done by
adding money to the Wayland Charitable Fund. Pineault added that she
would like to see them "expand this to address residents in need
rather than just seniors in need."
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Wayland Voters Network
Margo Melnicove, Chair
Michael Short, Treasurer