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School Committee roundup: No support for trail proposal; budget vote upcoming

by | Jan 14, 2022 | Education, Featured: Education

The School Committee at its Thursday meeting voted unanimously not to support a current application proposed by the Upper Charles Trail Committee (UCTC) to extend a portion of its trail across the Irvine-Todaro property to Hayden Rowe Street.

UCTC Chair Jane Moran in December had presented a proposal that would extend part of the trail system, which would go along the Marathon School site. That site could be under consideration for a new Elmwood School replacement building. The application process for an owners project manager currently is before the Massachusetts Building Authority, and designs for buildings for students in Grades 2-3 and 2-4 eventually will be under consideration.

Moran brought forth a point of order, saying that the UCTC was not notified of the discussion. She requested that the matter be brought forth at a subsequent meeting.

Nancy Cavanaugh explained that discussion had taken place at the previous meeting. It was noted that the committee voted to support a feasibility study on May 16, 2019. However, the UCTC’s current proposal is different from the original one and would involve land that the School Department may want to use for a new building.

“My concern is that if you’re going forward with your application for the funding that there is an implicit vote of support on that,” she explained. No vote was held at the prior meeting.

Moran said she could take comments from the School Committee and bring them back to the UCTC for consideration and discussion with the School Committee at a later date.

“We do not need a vote of approval up or down from the School Committee,” Moran stressed. She said the application does not reflect support from the School Committee.

Said Moran: “Our application is really no concern of yours.”

The chair disagreed, saying it could potentially indicate School Committee support.

Markey added that the Community Preservation Committee supported the trail proposal without having a School Committee vote on it. He added that all public meetings are posted.

He also said that the School Department and School Committee do have an interest in the property, as well as the Elmwood School Building Committee-2, for which Markey is the School Committee liaison.

Moran reiterated her point of order before taking a vote. She also said the land was purchased in 2017 for town use, and that the Planning Board, of which she is a member, said that a trail is an allowable use on that land.

The superintendent said that the initial proposal was supported unanimously; however, she would be afraid that because the proposal is moving forward it would imply that the committee supported it now.

Fargiano said a vote could be taken “to codify what we already talked about.”

The committee voted 5-0 not to support the UCTC request.

Public gives input on school budget

The committee also held a joint meeting with the Select Board and the Appropriations Committee to go over the school budget proposed for FY23, which has been discussed at previous meetings.

One of the issues a few parents brought up was the lack of programs for advanced or gifted and talented students.

The superintendent said that classes sometimes are broken into groups which are geared toward different levels of learning at the same time.

The committee was to vote on the budget at its meeting on Jan. 20.

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