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Regent: 'My Son the Waiter,' through Sunday

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Earth Day cleanuip at Alewife Reservation Saturday

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National Drug Take-Back Day Saturday

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Bikeway cleanup Saturday

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Drum Connection beats this spring

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After-hours networking Tuesday at Menotomy Grill

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Historical Society: Our veterans Tuesday

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Narcan to be discussed at Senior Center Wednesday

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Film Wednesday portrays Muslim, Jewish women

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Pig-out? Roast at Olivio Wednesday

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Jan Luby to perform May 2 at Kickstand

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Historical talk, reception at May 3 Old Schwamb Mill

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Tryst serves new dinner menu

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Fourth international film festival seeking entries, lists partners

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Open house/free trial workout for dogs in May

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All that's jazz: AHS Pops Concert May 3

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Arlington Cultural Commission calendar

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LexFarm stand open for season

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A first: Art to rock Menotomy starting May 4

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Foundation's Education Technology Showcase May 5

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May 7 conversation: Can junk food end obesity?

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A cappella joy in Mudville May 10

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Register for historical walk by May 12

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Community Collection Day May 10

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Work day at Spy Pond Park May 17

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Walk Arlington’s cultural heights May 18

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Capitol Square evening of art, music May 22

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Astronomy Nights continue at Robbins Farm May 31

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Community Card for 2013-14 aiding Thompson available

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Soap-box derby participants get ready for June

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Farmers' market to open 16th season June 11

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Bejazzled concert fund-raiser June 13 features many alumni

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16th Feast of the East set for June 14

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Conversations about diversity conclude June 9: 'Many Social Classes'

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Ciclismo Classico to bike in Argentina in August

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For 2014-15, AFD Theatre seeks music, stage directors, choreographers

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OPEN MIC

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Kick Stand Cafe, just off Mass. Ave. in Arlington Center, continues the Jam'n Java open- microphone tradition Friday nights once a month for local entertainers starting in December.

For an up-to-date listing, go to Open Mic.

ENTERTAINMENT

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The Regent Theatre on Medford Street is Arlington's showplace of stars.
For an up-to-date listing to know what's on stage what's coming, go to www.regenttheatre.com.

YOUR SPORTS

marathon-3314 Seventy-three of 78 Arlington runners completed the 118th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21, according to the Boston Athletic Association website. The...
newberg-3414 Helene Newberg runs. Helene Newberg, longtime resident of Arlington, ran in the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, in part to help Samaritans raise...
 Thursday April 24, 2014 |  6:55:04 p.m.

Failed special-ed search sparks more questions -- and an appeal to consider limited pool

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SEPAC logo, 2011

As a special-education group says Arlington is missing out because its search for a top administrator has failed, Superintendent Kathleen Bodie expressed frustration about the limited pool of candidates squeezed by 17 districts seeking heads of special ed.

"Regarding the recent search yielding no recommendation to hire from among the three finalists," Jerri Newman, who was speaking for SEPAC as its cochair, said during public participation Thursday, April 26, "we are disappointed and are concerned that there are flaws in the screening, search, and interview process which resulted in three finalists being selected and none found both suitable from the Superintendent's perspective, and willing to continue, from the finalist's perspective."

Newman asked the School Committee to appoint a neutral party to look into the process.

Bodie commented on a series of administrative positions that must be filled and three of the key searches that have not borne fruit but have had to be reopened.

As for the search for a director of special education, she said it began in December, initially drew few applications and was extended a month.

She noted that the three finalists had toured the schools in March and met the public. Their names have not been released.

Before deciding to reopen the search at a later time and have Kathleen Lockyer continue as interim director for another year, Bodie said a highly regarded applicant withdrew, a second had a contract renewed and the third was not made an offer.

Bodie said 17 districts in the region are seeking directors of special education.

Speaking about applicants for administrative jobs in general, Bodie said the "pool of people for these positions is not wide." She cited tightness in the market for school administrators that is expected to continue for the next five years.

Member Jeff Thielman asked whether a consultant may be need to aid in the current searches.

Bodie said one may be needed for the position of special-education director.

Committee members did not say whether they would follow up on Newman's suggestion for a neutral part to review school searches.

SEPAC cochair comments

The full text of Newman's comments:

"Regarding the status of the search for the director of special education, we have seen improvements in special education administration and team dynamics under the interim leadership of Ms. Lockyer, and speaking for myself personally here, I am very grateful for her leadership of the department. At the same time, SEPAC would have liked to have been able to move forward with several initiatives, which have been postponed in light of the lack of a permanent director of special education.

"Most recently we forfeited the spot reserved for parent leaders and two special-ed administrators from our district, to participate in a workshop offered by the Federation for Children with Special Needs, with support from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, on learning and applying collaborative leadership skills. In addition, we have not acted on an offer made almost a year ago for mediation and guidance from the Harvard Negotiating Team.

"Both of these valuable opportunities were offered to SEPAC and or the district free of charge.

"Regarding the recent search yielding no recommendation to hire from among the three finalists, we are disappointed and are concerned that there are flaws in the screening, search, and interview process which resulted in three finalists being selected and none found both suitable from the Superintendent's perspective, and willing to continue, from the finalist's perspective.

"This is the second screening and hiring effort which has resulted in no candidate among finalists, after many hours expended by staff and parents, at a time when we can ill afford to spend time that is not productive. We appreciate the Superintendent's efforts to include all stakeholders, but believe that the failure of these searches warrants careful analysis of the process to produce recommendations for changes moving forward.

"We respectfully request that the School Committee appoint neutral a party or parties, to be directed to solicit feedback from participants in the search and the meet and greet sessions, including parents and staff, and to solicit feedback from the finalists on the interview process, to expose any problems with the process that might have cost our district so much effort without producing a suitable candidate whom the Superintendent could present to the Committee.
Thank vou."

Updates about other searches

As for other searches, Bodie provided these updates:

-- AHS principal: Before calling off the search in February after it was extended a month and continuing Mary Villano as interim, she said the committee had no one it could recommend.

-- Stratton principal: Robert Spiegel, head of human resources, said 50 had applied. Among three finalists, Maureen Devlin, the top choice, was made an offer, which she considered and then said she had an offer from a private school in another state (here statements to parents is below). The search was reopened, and an ad was published in the Globe April 29. Bodie said she would appoint interim if this search is unsuccessful.

-- Assistant superintendent: The last of five finalists will meet the public April 30. A recommendation for one of those five is expected by May 4.

-- Director of math: Interviews of candidates continue.

-- Metco director: Steve Perreira is retiring in June after more than 30 years, and the School Committee voted, 6-0, in favor of a new job description.

Member Jud Pierce whether time after work hours could be arranged to meet candidates for any of these positions. Available times had been scheduled in the afternoon during work hours.

Spiegel called the request reasonable and said it is challenging to schedule times convenient for candidates and for the public.

"There are so few nights," Bodie said. "If interviews occurred at night, that would spread out the process." She expressed disappointment that few teachers had attended the sessions for assistant superintendent candidates.

In a statement to parents and guardians April 26, Bodie wrote:

"The result of the Stratton Elementary Principal search is that the position was offered to Maureen Devlin, whom we felt would be an excellent choice for Stratton.  Unfortunately, Ms. Devlin has informed us that she has chosen to accept an offer from a private school in another state and  I do not plan to offer the position to one of the other candidates.

"After much thought about what is in the best interest of Stratton, I have decided to re-open the search. My reason for re-opening the search is to be consistent with the way we conducted earlier searches this year, as well as to minimize administrative transitions. We extended the search time for another month both for the High School Principal and Director of Special Education. Unfortunately, the extra time did not result in a successful search, which may be the case for the reopened Stratton Principal search, though we hope for a different outcome.  Should we not find the right candidate for the position in this new search, my plan will be to appoint an Interim Principal for next year.

"The reopened Stratton position will be advertised in The Globe and other venues.  I hope that the members of the Search Committee will agree to continue their service on the Committee.  Should there be any openings, I will invite applications to participate on the Search Committee.

"My goal, as well as your goal, is to find the best person to lead Stratton Elementary School in the years ahead." 


This story was first published Sunday, April 29, 2012.

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YOUR VIEW: This site's only blog

  • Town Hal freedom of speech logo

    Articles backed by League of Women Voters

    Article 22 (acceptance of legislation/Community Preservation Act, which would establish a fund to enable the town to acquire and preserve open space, create and restore land for recreational uses, preserve and rehabilitate historic buildings and sites, and create and support affordable housing): If the article is approved by Town Meeting, a question would be placed on the town ballot, for determination by the voters as to whether to impose a surcharge tax on real estate to create the fund. The League neither supports nor opposes the surcharge tax, only that the question be put before the voters to promote the democratic process. Article 39 (maintenance of water bodies): to provide an appropriation to the Water Bodies Fund for maintenance, treatment and oversight.   Article 40, which would provide a stipend of $750 for 10 seniors who are able to work in town departments. Article 44 (appropriation for historical sites signs): to promote the historic resources of the town. Arti ...

  • Small-world logo

    Small world after all

    Then I see words I had first read right over: The story's dateline is Arlington, but it's the one near D.C. "Anchored by Nordstrom and Macy’s and home to more than 170 stores," the news release goes on, "The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City has been a staple in the Arlington community since it opened in 1989." This could have been about the Burlington Mall, but it wasn't. Why was a p.r. firm letting YourArlington know? Because the website has a little button called "Send news" at the top right. Through that button, anyone can send anything. And they do. News and opinions are edited before publication. The first test is whether the item relates to Arlington, Mass. Spam goes right in the trash. In this case, Chelsea Bohannon of Brave Public Relations in Atlanta must have thought one Arlington is as good as the next. I let her know she had the wrong locale. "Sorry," she wrote, and I decided to have a further exchange. You can title it "Our Incredibly Shrinking World." I wrote ...

  • Dollar image

    Treasurer gets deputy after urging vote

    "Below please find the date-trail where important actions took place: "• Internal posting - December 12, 2013 "• External posting- December 12, 2013     o Town Website        o Monster.com "• Review of applicant resume's and credentials - January 13, 2014 through February 3, 2014 "• 1st round of interviews- February 6, 2014 and February 13, 2014     o An Excel-based budgetary exercise situation problem was administered to each applicant during the first round of interviews "• 2nd round of interviews-February 21, 2014        o A writing skills exercise containing an investment scenario was administered during the second round of interviews "I am extremely pleased that we were able to attract and obtain a candidate with Mr. Morse's qualifications, skills, experience and passion. Mr. Morse will bring an array of valuable skills and experience to the Deputy Treasurer's position. "I strongly ...

  • Dollar image

    Vote *against* Community Preservation Act

    If you can afford it ... The CPA is a good deal for municipalities whose residents can afford it. In exchange for a property tax surcharge of 1 to 3 percent, the state will provide matching money (used to be $1 for $1, is now more on the order of 50 cents state matching on each dollar of local property tax surcharge). At least 10% of the match must be spent on each of 3 categories - open space, historic preservation, and affordable housing; the remaining 70% can be spent on a much wider (but still limited) range of possibilities. Spending is thus on projects which most communities would like to spend money anyway. The state match reduces by half the cost of extra spending. Bottom line is that CPA money is worth spending on, if one can afford it. I suggest that individual support for or opposition against the CPA is based largely on one's personal finances. Those who feel they can afford to pay more have compelling reason to support it; those who feel they can't have compelling rea ...

  • Metco image

    Long Live Metco, Starks writes

    The reason I co-authored the article with Mr. Foskett was to make sure that as we head into the need for future overrides for our schools that we make sure that we are talking about all of the costs that our public schools are asked to take on and that we as a town decide whether to continue to support them or not. As I had hoped, the discussion that has ensued about Metco has been a positive response to keeping the program going. I will continue to work to get more funding for the program and make sure that our legislators know how woefully underfunded it is. But my stance on Metco needing more funding is not a reflection on whether or not I think it is an important program that has a long future here in Arlington. Education itself is woefully underfunded, but you will not find a more passionate advocate for it than those of us who serve on School Committee. This letter was published Friday, April 11, 2014. ...

  • Arlington Avocado image

    Avocado slices, dices town election

    Kurt Fusaris, who writes The Arlington Avocado blog, takes his political knife to the April 5 town election. He takes a look at how his forecasts turned out. He also takes a close read of the results and makes some conjectures as to what happened and why. See his detailed post here >> Kurt is not curt. This blog link was published Wednesday, April 9, 2014. ...

  • An old-fashioned reporter

    OPINION, NEWS, TIPS: Let us know what you think

    The annual town election has passed, and life in Arlington continues. If you have a letter about any subject related to our town, or news you want residents to know, send it to YourArlington. Here's how: -- Your opinion and news should be related Arlington, Mass. (News about neighboring communities is welcome, but can be published as the publisher's time allows.) -- If your news is an event, you must provide the name of the sponsor (and a way to contact them), what the event is, where it is to take place, when it will happen, why it is taking place and any further information helpful to understand your report. -- There is no restriction on length for your letter or for news, but you should understand that if you go on too long, you run the risk of losing readers. -- Email letters and news as plain text (no formatting, no Word docs). -- If you have a photo, attach it to the email. -- Email [email protected]          -- Or send it dire ...

  • Douglass T. Davidoff

    Two modest proposals for after the election

    Suggestions for renaming First: Let’s rename the Board of Selectmen to the "Select Board." Second: Let’s rename the Town Meeting to "Representative Town Meeting." As a relatively new resident of Arlington, having moved here only four years ago, I don’t know if these two ideas that gnaw at me have been debated before in the town. If they have, it’s a marvel that the Arlington I have come to know wouldn’t have moved sooner to address deficiencies I see in naming our chief town governance structures. The New England tradition of town meetings and "select men" elected to manage town affairs between meetings of the town citizenry is well documented. From Maine to Connecticut, town meetings and select men have run affairs of New England towns for centuries. But in Connecticut, where I grew up, the towns that grew in population and abandoned the town meeting because it became unwieldy often replaced it with elected leaders who sit in what’s usually a "Representative Town Meeting." My h ...

  • Vision 2020 logo

    A question of vision: Now what?

    But today, Vision 2020 is facing some big questions, the biggest of which is, "What's our purpose now?" Clearly, the organization is still functioning, but is having trouble drawing enough citizen commitment to keep working as it was intended. Just go to the website, arlington2020.org, and one of the first things you see is this statement, "Most of the material here, except for the Reservoir and Fiscal subsites, is a couple of years out of date." Hmmm. Not very visionary, I guess. I'm not blaming anyone for this, either those involved in Vision 2020 or any members of the public. I think most people involved have put in an honest and sincere effort. And the public can't be blamed for putting their attention elsewhere these days. After all, with the year 2020 itself approaching, the very idea of having a long-range vision for the town by 2020 is not as compelling as it once was. Instead, I think we are now in a position to take some very bold steps, almost as bold as the steps we too ...

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