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WVN #54: High School Abutters Seek Involvement in Decision Making

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  • waylandvoters2
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 24, 2004
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      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
      property values.

      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."

      Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to your
      friends and neighbors in Wayland. If they want to receive their own
      copy, they can send an email to waylandvoters@... and they will
      be signed up for the listserv. Or, they can sign themselves up by
      sending a blank email to:
      waylandvotersnetwork-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Click reply and send
      after receiving an e-mail confirming the subscription. If you know
      anyone who'd rather receive information from WVN by regular mail
      please email their name and address to waylandvoters@....

      Wayland Voters Network
      Margo Melnicove, Chair
      Michael Short, Treasurer
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