High School Rebuild
The new Arlington High School is getting closer to having a structured rebuilding plan. The school committee voted in favor of a framework addressing the educational and space needs of the high school. One area still up for debate is the size of the gymnasium.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority will subsidize up to 16-thousand square feet of gym space. High school principal Matthew Janger told the school committee that’s enough room for a jogging track and to allow two P.E. classes at the same time. It would also be the one space large enough to accommodate all school assemblies. School committee member Kirsi Allison-Ampe said she would rather see a smaller gym and apply the state reimbursed square footage left over to a field house. The rest of the money would then have to come from the town. Ampe says it would better accommodate the 30 plus extra curricular athletics folks have come to expect.
The school committee and AHS building committee will continue seeking input on the high school’s design.
In other school news, the school committee approved the superintendent’s proposed budget for next year. The school department asked the town for an 8% increase in its funding appropriation over last year—for a total of 65.8 million dollars. The biggest increase coming from opening up the Gibbs for sixth graders to accommodate growing enrollment. The funding would also go towards additional specialists, and for the first time-full time kindergarten teaching assistants, something parents and teachers had been asking for as kindergarten classes have been increasing in size to as many as 25 students. Right now teaching assistants only work half way through the school day. All changes would go into effect next year. The budget is expected to be finalized by town meeting in April.
Storm Clean Up
The town is still working on cleaning up from the multiple nor’easter’s we had. The Department of Public Works says they are systematically getting to all the downed limbs and branches, but it will take at least a few more weeks. Tree workers are clearing hanging limbs and any hazardous downed trees first, then moving on to clearing branches from town trees left curbside. DPW director Mike Rademacher says this is the worst tree damage he’s seen in ten years—mostly because its so wide-spread. Hundreds of limbs and branches came down after the first and second nor’easters blew strong winds through the town in early March. And if you’re wondering when the fields may open for the spring, Rademacher says to stay tuned; with snow still melting he can’t pin down a date just yet.