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Discussion for later school start time held

School Committee logo

UPDATED, Feb. 6: Members of the School Committee's community-relations subcommittee want to know what you think about the proposal to change the school-day start time to 8:30 a.m. for the Gibbs, Ottoson and Arlington High.

This change would take effect on the first day of school next September, if the district decides to make this change.

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AHS Building Committee supports new total cost: $299M

Latest HMFH design of AHS front supported Jan. 22.Latest HMFH design of AHS front supported Jan. 22.

UPDATED: The estimated cost to rebuild Arlington High School was reduced to $299 million after the school building committee reviewed a dizzying list of cost considerations on Tuesday, Jan. 29. The School Committee continued the discussion Wednesday night, and the building committee again Thursday.

Since last summer, the project total has stood at $308 million. In a 11-4-1 vote, the committee agreed to the lower total after Skanska USA, the project manager, provided estimates they viewed as the most accurate to date.

Marking the three-hour meeting were searching questions aimed at trying to clear up confusions, apparent vacillation about how to proceed as well as moments of pointed frustration. Consider these specifics:

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AHS rebuild committee supports refined design

More-precise cost estimates for project made public

Option 2, HMFH, Jan. 22, 2019Arlington High School design. / HMFH

UPDATED, Jan. 30: With some feeling the weight of what town voters might accept, members of the Arlington High School Building Committee have supported a fresh exterior design fronting near Mass. Ave., mixing older and newer elements.

The vote on Tuesday, Jan. 22, to merge two of seven options came days before the committee was to find out about a more precise estimate of the project's total cost, which the state has capped at $308 million. That occurred at the meeting set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29, and is reported separately here >>

In other key news from that meeting, the committee:

-- Voted to use the Parmenter School only as a temporary location for Menotomy Preschool during construction of AHS and not for permanent relocation of either the preschool or the district administration offices. For more, click here >> 

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AHS track: Harrison places 2nd in Invitational


UPDATED, Jan. 27: The Arlington High School boys' and girls' track teams participated in the Large Schools Coaches' Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Reggie Lewis Center, Roxbury.

In the two-mile, Nick Valianti of Marshfield won (9:40.05) and Miles Harrison of Arlington placed second (9:43.83), reported. See a summary >>

In addition, AHS senior captain Ryan Oosting ran in the New Balance Grand Prix on the same day in the afternoon, also at Reggie Lewis. Results are awaited.

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Second AHS rebuild forum draws estimated 200 -- 25 with questions

Chart presented Jan. 14 showing cost escalation of selected projects

UPDATED, Jan. 25: An estimated 200 people in Town Hall on Monday, Jan. 14, heard 25 among them ask questions in the second public forum about rebuilding Arlington High School.

They ranged from clear support to queries seeking clarification to stern comments about the projected $308 million cost.

In summary, no one explicitly objected to rebuilding the school, the first part of which was constructed in 1914, the last in 1981.

Watch forum via ACMi >> | All slides presented >>

A key moment in the evening came when Carl Wagner, part of a group critical of the school's design and use of open space, asked those gathered: "How many support this project?" Many hands shot up.

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Online kindergarten registration for fall underway

UPDATED, Jan. 23: Registration for kindergarten for fall 2019-20 is opening earlier this year than in past years in order to align better with applications for after-school programs, schools' Superintendent Kathleen Bodie has announced.Educational administration logo

Registration has opened online Wednesday, Jan. 23. 

Read the letter explaining the registration process, which includes links to all grades >> 

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Cost estimates for AHS rebuild due at month's end

Quote bar, redJAN.-FEB. TIMELINE

Jan. 8: Building Committee meets  

Jan. 10: 
School Committee   meeting 

Jan. 14: Documents go to Skanska cost estimators 

Jan. 14: Forum on AHS rebuild costs

Jan. 22: Building committee meets 

Jan. 24: School Committee meeting 

Jan. 28: Estimates back from Skanska

Jan. 29: Reconciliation of estimates, building committee meets for update, value-engineering discussion

Jan. 31:
 Special School Committee meeting

Feb. 5: Building committee approves total project budget for Mass. School Building Authority submission

Feb. 12: 
Approve submission of school district report
 Quote bar, red

School Committee expects to cut nothing of what has been proposed, unless total tops $308M

January promises to be a crucial month in the rebuilding of Arlington High School, particularly at the end, when specific costs estimates are to arrive from its project manager.

The numbers from Skanska are due Jan. 28. The day after that the estimates are to be reconciled with Cambridge architect HMFH, and key town officials, including the building committee. If the process takes another day, a further meeting will be held Jan. 31.

At stake during this crunch time is the project's overall cost. Since June, that has been estimated at $308 million.

Might it be higher? No, says Superintendent Kathleen Bodie, who told the School Committee on Dec. 20 that the state School Building Authority, which is driving the process, will not accept a greater amount.

If the estimates come in higher, then top school and town leaders plus the building committee must decide what to cut.

Overall, the sense of the School Committee, expressed Dec. 20, is to cut nothing that has been proposed so far.

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Arlington Education Foundation grants top $22,000

The Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) has completed its fall grants cycle and has awarded a total of $22,434 in two grant categories, Innovations in Education and the Continuing Scholar Award.aef logo 2018

“The diverse pool of grant recipients in this cycle really illustrates our broad partnerships across the district. AEF is supporting projects from our district METCO director, several classroom teachers, a music teacher, an ELL teacher and even some inspired parents. In total, the grants awarded this fall will enrich the learning experiences of students from kindergarten through high school over a variety of disciplines,” remarked Ann Pirone, AEF president, in a Dec. 13 news release.

Innovations in Education grants support innovative teaching and learning in classrooms throughout the district. This fall there were nine such grants awarded:

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Thompson parents step up after report of 'hate' graffiti at school

amor thompson

UPDATED, Dec. 8: Karen Donato, principal of the Thompson School, in an email Friday, Dec. 7, said graffiti was found in a school bathroom, and officials are calling it hate speech.

After school, parents and students responded with some graffiti of their own -- showing images of love, as shown above.

Donato wrote: "I am writing this morning to make you aware of an incident that occurred yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, graffiti was found in one of the stalls of the bathrooms on the first floor. The graffiti contained swears, racial slurs, and has been removed. Based upon the nature of the language, we are treating this as hate speech.

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AHS rebuild committee directs architect to work with tradition

Principal asks that HMFH not be 'held back'

UPDATED, Dec. 7: The Arlington High School Building Committee voted Tuesday, Dec. 4, to follow the lead of a community survey and direct Cambridge architect HMFH to pursue option A, the more traditional exterior design for a rebuilt school.

option a 400 112018Option A, the more traditional of three Arlington High designs, got the nod Dec. 4. / HMFH Architects

Comments by members show they favored less traditional schematics, but, overall, they chose to abide by the community poll.

In a survey completed by 1,442 respondents, option A received a 3.45 overall rating, option B 2.76 and option C, the least traditional, 2.93.

Opposition fliers in '75 vote >>

AHS Principal Matthew Janger offered a strong appeal, urging the architect not to feel constrained by the choice. "We have a talented architect," he said, suggesting that the concept chosen can "grow if you don't hold them back too much."

He reflected comments from other committee members who downplayed the importance of external appearance in favor of focusing on the education taking place inside the building.

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November Citizen of the Month at AHS: Elliot Johnson

Principal Matt JangerJanger

The Student Council is proud to present the Arlington High School Citizen of the Month for November -- Elliot Johnson.

Matthew Janger, AHS principal, wrote Dec. 4:

"Elliot was nominated by his peers for countless reasons. He is known by his classmates to “always be positive and always try to include everyone in things that he does.

"We want to thank him for creating a wonderful sense of community and bringing joy to everyone around him, for taking spending countless hours of dedication giving back to his school community, for friendliness to all his peers, and just being a “courageous and kind” person! Thank you, Elliot, for your constant efforts to make AHS a more positive and welcoming environment."

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Fears about cost may divide town, but numbers face more scrutiny

UPDATED, Dec. 4: Above a recent news summary about the Arlington High School rebuild, a Boston Globe headline describes the town as "divided" over the issue. Is it?

AHS project
Wynelle Evans, who "wholeheartedly supports the rebuild," said. "Cost is going to hit very hard on those who can't keep up with it."
A petition from the group Save Our Historic High School has 306 signers as of Nov. 30. Of those, the petition says 218 are from Arlington, a town of about 44,400, according to the 2015 American Community Survey

At the Wednesday, Nov. 28, forum in Town Hall, an estimated 250 people attended the public update focused on exterior design, as 18 people spoke. Did their questions or comments reflect division?

The answer depends on who was speaking, what he or she said and the audience reaction.

ACMi broadcast of Nov. 28 forum >>

What are the general takeaways? A key one was fear about costs. Consider what people said, summarized below, and judge for yourself.

First, building committee Chairman Jeff Thielman provided a project timeline and Lori Cowles, principal for project architect HMHF, reviewed three new exterior design options.

On Tuesday, Dec. 4, the building committee plans to choose the exterior design concept of the three options discussed at the forum -- see them all here >> -- and was to begin in earnest to discuss project costs. Tonight's agenda (CM stands for construction manager) >>

Cost estimates will be discussed in late January, and on Feb. 5, the building committee plans to approve the total project budget and concept design for submission that month to the Mass. School Building Authority, whose rules drive process and funding. 

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AHS rebuild committee reviews 3 new exterior designs, gives go-ahead to memorial effort

UPDATED, Dec. 1: Three fresh designs for the front of a rebuilt Arlington High School are headed your way at the Town Hall forum set for Wednesday, Nov. 28, changed from Tuesday because of visiting hours for the late Kevin Greeley.

option a 400 112018Option A, the more traditional of three Arlington High designs presented Nov. 20. / HMFH Architects

High school building committee members reviewed the designs Tuesday, Nov. 20, offering their pluses and minuses about the traditional and nontraditional looks -- one with white columns and two without. All three are included in the full HMFH presentation >> 

In addition, during the four-hour meeting, the committee heard a new idea for a memorial in front of the rebuilt school that would include as part of its design the white columns dating from the 1930s. The panel voted to establish a memorial committee.

"We replicate the historic building," said Town Meeting member Ted Peluso, who proposed the notion of a smaller version of the current entrance as part of a memorial. "We see the building that we love."

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AHS journalism symposium draws local scribes

AHS 300

The editors of the Arlington High Journalism Club, Claire Kitzmiller and Isabella Scopetski, invited residents to hear a panel of journalists, some nationally known, to a symposium 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec.7, in Old Hall.

The event was free, but if you enjoyed the return of the AHS newspaper last year or hope to see a new issue, there was food for sale to raise funds for the next printing. The Ponder Report has been largely an online publication since 2011.

This symposium was an opportunity for students and staff to learn more about journalism and how it's changing with the media and our current political climate. Audience members had time to ask their own questions as well as meet the panelists.

Panelists scheduled to take part were:

Read more ...

AHS design discussion turns to interior ideas, and reaction is positive

Cutaway showing proposed spine at Arlington High. / HMFH ArchtectsCutaway showing proposed spine at Arlington High. / HMFH Archtects

UPDATED, Nov. 13: Public focus about the design of a rebuilt Arlington High School has emphasized exterior features since summer -- green space near Mass. Ave. and white columns. But the project is much broader than that, as discussions have turned inside the proposed structure, and with much enthusiasm from the building committee.

More proposed views >>

In addition, significant discussion about costs is expected to get underway in earnest in December.

"Fantastic .... I want to go there," building committee member Ryan Katofsky reacted to fresh news about the interior plans.

Read more ...

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