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  • 2015 AIFF logo

    Film-fest founders stretch between town, city

    I have supported the Arlington International Film Festival since it began, in 2010. I continue that support even after the founders announced last January they were moving the annual showcase of independent films from around the world to the Kendall Square Cinema, in Cambridge. That relationship didn't keep me from asking questions, as reflected in this January report about why the festival is moving.  Those questions and answers did not prevent me from being, in March, a financial supporter of the 2015 festival's poster contest.  But it's clear that organizers April Ranck and Alberto Guzman are walking a tightrope. They have taken the festival toward a potentially wider audience in the city next door while trying to keep their connections to the town. ...

  • Film reviews logo

    Review: ‘Black Souls': This dark mob family drama doesn’t go where you expect

    This review by Tom Meek was originally published at Cambridge Day, a YourArlington partner, and is republished with permission. His reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in The Boston Phoenix, The Rumpus, Thieves Jargon, Film Threat and Open Windows. He is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere. You can follow Tom on Twitter @TBMeek3 and read more at TBMeek3.wordpress.com. The three brothers in “Black Souls” lead very different lives: Luciano (Fabrizio Ferracane) runs the family goat farm in a remote village in the Italian foothills while Luigi (Marco Leonardi) and Rocco (Peppino Mazzotta) run mob operations in Milan. Luciano wants nothing to do with the new initiative and works tirelessly to steer his son, Leo (Giuseppe Fumo) away from it too. ...

  • Minteman High School logo

    Minuteman school plans advance, but what are their chances?

    First, some unsurprising news about plans to rebuild Minuteman High School, and then some opinions about that interspersed among the news nuggets. The Minuteman School Committee on Tuesday, May 19, endorsed construction of a new school as its "preferred option." According to a school news release, that option aims to address current facilities issues; creates an educational environment that best meets the needs of students, teachers and employers; and ensures continued accreditation. The committee also authorized Skanska USA, its project manager, to submit supporting documentation to the Massachusetts School Building Authority by June 11. The committee’s vote follows a May 11 recommendation, also expected, to build a new school from the Minuteman School Building Committee. ...

  • Arlington Cultural Council logo

    Arts survey open until June 30

    Elisabeth Taylor, who provides publicity for the Arlington Cultural Council, invites the public to take its triennial community input survey. First, some background ... Every three years the Massachusetts Cultural Council asks its 329 local Councils to seek community input about how to set grant-funding priorities. Over the past three years, the Arlington council has funded such engaging projects as "A Night at the Tower" by Luminarium Dance Company, "Chairful Where You Sit" by Arlington Public Art, the Winfred Rembert Artist-in-Residence program at Arlington High School and on May 16 "Art.Food.Community" with Arlington EATS. ...

  • Arlington Alive! Logo

    Block party: I'm a sponsor, and you?

    UPDATED, May 19: The Arlington Alive Summer Arts Block Party, to be held from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 20, offers opportunities to businesses for sponsorships and visibility. See news story >> If you are a musician, performer, artist, author or artisan and would like participate, or a business owner interested in available sponsorships, visit the party website or read below. YourArlington's publisher has paid for the $250 sponsorship and will have a table at the event plus some surprises. See you there. Here are the details for everyone: Press last year included three "best bet" picks in The Boston Globe, weeks of articles in The Arlington Advocate and a story promoting the event for two months at YourArlington.com. The Arlington Alive website featuring our sponsors' logos and links had more than 2,500 unique visitors and was linked to by more than 70 websites. ...

  • real estate logo

    'Prophet of property' reports numbers since May 11

    Adam Rosenbaum, a Realtor for Century 21 Adams, Arlington Heights, reports about properties in Arlington since Monday, May 11: On May 15, he reported that Arlington had 30 new listings. The breakdown is 20 singles, nine condos and one multifamily. Your fearless prophet of property predicts that 17 of 30 will have signed contracts by Wednesday, May 20.  For comparison, he reportes: 11 new listings in Belmont 16 new in Watertown 20 in Cambridge 28 in Somerville On May 14, he reported that he had again picked the exact number of new properties that have gone under agreement since Monday, May 4. He had predicted that 11 of 18 properties would have signed contracts by today. "And I was right, on the proverbial nose. Maybe I'll buy a couple of lottery tickets," he wrote. For a free market evaluation, contact Rosenbaum at 617-694-8553. An earlier perspective Grant Gibian, an Arlington Realtor who works for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, looks at Arlin ...

  • Art Rocks Spy Pond logo

    Spy Pond exhibit: ingenious, untaxing

    A REVIEW Precinct 15 member Sean Harrington complained on Town Meeting's last night May 11 that he pledged no allegiance to paying for public art with taxpayers' money. Except for using taxes, he gave no specific reason for his opposition to Arlington Public Art's seeking $12,000 to begin the process to place sculptures along Mass. Ave. in East Arlington. Western civilization has a long tradition of using public funds to pay for public art, dating long before the stars and stripes waved above our land. I suggest Harrington read some history. Better yet, and likely more convincing, go over to Spy Pond Park and see "Elements" -- works by 12 artists on display near the water's edge for all of May. ...

  • Feast of the East, 2008

    Artisans, vendors: 17th Feast of East wants you

    Diane Buxton, owner of Luv and Other Gifts in East Arlington, provided the following call to artisans and food vendors for the 17th annual Feast of the East, set for Saturday, June 13, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Calling all restaurants, food vendors, all artisans, crafters, buskers and community groups. All are invited to be part of Feast of the East, where restaurants, stores, artisans and community groups come together to celebrate East Arlington with food, music, art activities, entertainment and special promotions. Sell, sample, and promote your food products and services during this fun event. Sign up now to be included in all publicity. Applications are available here or can be picked up at Artbeat, 212A Mass. Ave., next to the Capitol Theatre. This appeal was published Saturday, April 25, 2015.  ...

  • Suggested Study area. the area of impact extends well beyond the map's borders, making residents of adjacent areas stakeholders in the study process.

    Neighbors in Cambridge eye Alewife, development

    Suggested Study area. the area of impact extends well beyond the map's borders, making residents of adjacent areas stakeholders in the study process. The following post titled "Citywide Plan to Focus on Alewife Area First" was published by the Fresh Pond Residents Alliance and is republished with permission. The group has concerns similar to those opposing the plan at the 17-acre Mugar site in East Arlington: The citywide master planning process is now underway. The first step in the 3-year process is an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) for a scope of services and deliverables from the to-be-named planning consultant. The Community Development Department, which is overseeing the plan, released a draft RFQ and invited the community to send comments by May 8. Here are comments the FPRA officers submitted. Our comments address the Alewife Study, which has been promised as an early phase/first area of focus of the citywide plan. The final RFQ will be issue ...

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Superintendent Kathleen Bodie has explained the possibility of closing the Thompson School temporarily next year because "many of the building's systems are at risk of failing" as well as appointing Thompson Principal Sheri Donovan to lead students at Stratton after Alan Brown retires.

She announced her plan at the Feb. 8 School Committee meeting and discussed it further at Thompson two nights later. At least one parent who attended the meeting at Thompson, Crispin Olsen, expressed concern that if funding for a rebuilt school is not assured, East Arlington may be left with one elementary school. 

The evening before the state voted to approve the next step in the Thompson rebuild, Bodie suggested that the School Committee consider the possibility of closing Thompson in the 2011-12 school year.\

-- She told the committee that the school's boiler "could go any time." Should it break down, the cost of a temporary boiler could run as high as $100,000.

-- It would be better to plan for the relocation of Thompson students than to relocate students on an emergency basis.  With time to plan, we could likely move students to two or three schools, which was the case when other schools were relocated for construction.

Olsen, who has a daughter in kindergarten at Thompson, offered a different view:

"Whilst I see the financial sense in not wasting taxpayers’ money, currently the Thompson School rebuild has only been approved to move forward to the design stage. Taking a move like closure without the security that the new school is going to be built, there is a very real possibility that the larger half of East Arlington will be without a school for a prolonged period of time, and that is unacceptable.

"Thompson School is the cornerstone of this neighborhood, and a key reason why there has been a steady and significant increase in the kindergarten rolls each year, and a steady rise in the number of young families moving in as replacement for the people who made this neighborhood 50-60 years ago. Without it, we have a dying neighborhood, and that would be a disaster for the whole of the town."

Of the Feb. 10 meeting at Thompson, whose chief purpose was to outline projected reductions among all seven elementary schools in the fiscal 2012 budget, Olsen noted "a lot of concern last night" about a potentially closed Thompson.

In an e-mail Feb. 11, he wrote that "the superintendent wanted to defer any talk about it to next week."

Bodie is scheduled to meet with Thompson parents to express issue with that school on Wednesday, Feb. 16.

Bodie further explained her plans in a letter posted by Brown to the Stratton e-mail list on Sunday, Feb. 13. She wrote:

"I am sure that the news of Alan Brown’s retirement was received with universal sadness.  While his retirement will be a great loss for Stratton and the district, we wish him all the best in the next chapter of his life and thank him for his enormous contribution to the district, Stratton, and all the students whose lives have been enriched by his advocacy, wisdom, and care.

"What is also on the minds of staff, parents and students alike is what the process will be to select a new principal for next year. This decision is linked right now to the proposal I made to School Committee last Tuesday to relocate Thompson students to other elementary schools next year in order to prevent further investment in a deteriorating building and to accelerate the construction timeline."

Noting that on Wednesday Feb.9, the Thompson School received approval for new construction from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, she wrote, "Our architects are now at work creating the plans for this new school building. There are several reasons for this proposal to close Thompson at the end of June:

"• Given where we are in the design, approval, and financing process, there is a strong possibility that we will be able to bid the project and begin construction during the 2011-2012 school year, which will in turn allow us to finish the building more quickly. 

"• There are many uncertainties about the physical condition of the present building which has deteriorated significantly over the last year. Major building systems, including the roof, boiler, hot water and windows are on their last legs. Keeping the building open for another year runs the risk of requiring major and expensive emergency repairs – and perhaps even relocating students in the middle of the year. 

"• As you all know, Arlington is in a significant financial crisis. Both of the rationales above have financial ramifications: beginning and completing construction as soon as possible will help us lock in costs, while closing the current building will prevent the potential major costs of repairs. Closing the building will also generate significant savings in operating costs.

"One of the schools that will receive Thompson students in this proposal is Stratton, which has been a host school many times during past school construction projects. Should this proposal be approved, I am considering the appointment of Sheri Donovan as Interim Principal of Stratton next year. While Ms. Donovan will remain the Principal of Thompson Elementary School during construction and the return to the new building, she could also serve as Interim Principal of Stratton Elementary School next year provided that an administrative assistant, such as an Assistant Principal is provided to support her."

Bodie continued that Donovan has been "a very strong and innovative leader at Thompson, as well as the district. For example, she has been very active in securing grants for Thompson to support the educational program. She supported and helped design a mathematics Response to Intervention (RTI) program for students in grades 3-5 who struggled with math.

"Ms. Donovan holds two masters degrees. One degree is from Harvard Graduate School of Education in Reading and Language, the other is from Tufts University in Child Development. Her undergraduate degree is from Wheelock College. Before coming to Arlington, she was the Principal at two elementary schools in New York City. One of these elementary schools had 650 students.

"Prior to her experience in New York, she was an elementary teacher in Brookline and New Hampshire. I believe that Ms. Donovan can provide the leadership necessary for both Stratton and Thompson next year to continue the high standards of excellence demonstrated at both schools. She will have the complete support of the district and is well-positioned to maintain and promote the record of academic excellence for which Stratton has been recognized at the state and national level."

Bodie wrote that the appointment of an interim principal next year is not intended to be a long-term solution for leadership at Stratton. She said the administration "will likely conduct a search for a permanent leader next year, or possibly the following year depending upon the experience and success of this arrangement."

Officials have said that if all goes according to plans, the new Thompson School would be ready for occupancy for the September 2013 school year. This time frame is subject to final approvals of the state School Building Assistance (MSBA) Board and Town Meeting.


This story was first published at 8:20 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011

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