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Minuteman lands $500K grant to help launch new career, tech effort

Quote bar, red"Securing this highly-competitive state grant helps reduce costs to local taxpayers."
Dr. Edward A. Bouquillon

With the help of a $500,000 state grant, Minuteman High School will launch a new Advanced Manufacturing & Metal Fabrication program to train high school students and adults for high-wage, high-demand jobs in the field of advanced manufacturing in the MetroWest region.

The competitive grant was announced by Governor Charles D. Baker during ceremonies at the State House on Feb. 24. The governor announced grants totaling $9.3 million from the new Massachusetts Skills Capital Grant Program. He was joined at the event by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker II, Education Secretary James Peyser and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.

Some 68 schools and training programs applied for grants. Only 35 were successful.

"This is terrific news for our school and for our region," said Dr. Edward A. Bouquillon, superintendent at Minuteman High School, in a news release "We are grateful to Governor Baker and his Workforce Skills Cabinet for making this investment in high-quality vocational-technical education."

Minuteman received $500,000, the largest grant possible under the program. Only one other school received the maximum award.

With the grant, Minuteman will purchase 10 industry-standard machines and 15 ancillary training simulators. The equipment will include five Mini Mills, four CNC Tool Room Lathes, and one CNC Lathe with Y Axis.
The equipment will help Minuteman serve vocational high school students, academic high school students, unemployed and underemployed adults, and incumbent workers seeking to earn industry credentials.

"Securing this highly-competitive state grant helps reduce costs to local taxpayers," Bouquillon said. "Minuteman will continue to aggressively pursue opportunities like this one to get grants."

Instruction will be delivered at Minuteman High School by Chapter 74 state-licensed teachers and will follow state curriculum frameworks and guidelines from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills. The new program will be guided by a program advisory committee of business, education and community leaders that will review curriculum, equipment, instruction, and industry trends.

Bouquillon noted that nine companies or agencies wrote letters supporting Minuteman’s grant application. These include the Boston Tooling & Machining Association; Vaccon Vacuum Products; Mach Machine; Lexington Public Schools; Wentworth Institute of Technology College of Professional and Continuing Education; Partnerships for a Skilled Workforce; North Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board; Metro North Regional Employment Board; and the Minuteman Futures Foundation.

Several business people and educators have already agreed to serve on the Program Advisory Committee for the new program.

According to Michelle Roche, director of career and technical education at Minuteman, the school will be ordering and installing equipment and designing the new program over the next several months. The school is hoping to have initial course offerings in the fall.

Minuteman officials are planning a new 628-student high school consisting of two Career Academies supporting a total of 16 high-quality career and technical education programs. Advanced Manufacturing will be part of the new school’s Engineering, Construction and Trades Academy.

This announcement was published Thursday, March 3, 2016.

Minuteman STEM students hear hopes for Mars journey

Yari Rodriguez speaks to Minutemen STEM students.Yari Rodriguez speaks to Minutemen STEM students about Mars hopes.

When Yari Rodriguez was a girl, her role models were famous women she read about -- Sally Ride, Christa McAuliffe and Amelia Earhart, all of whom shared a passion for boldly taking to the sky.

Today, Rodriguez, 28, notes wistfully, "I wish someone would have told me that I was going to make it [as they did]; that believing in myself was enough."

That is the message she emphasized when she spoke at the recent Girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Camp at Minuteman High School in Lexington. The four-day event allowed local middle-school girls to be mentored by some of Minuteman’s female students in STEM programs, do experiments and projects together -- and, they hope, develop the confidence to know that they can compete in heavily male-dominated STEM disciplines.

The Girls in STEM initiative at Minuteman has received state and national awards for excellence in student-to-student mentoring and has drawn so many applicants that the February session was the third one held since the STEM camp was launched a year ago. Instrumental in its success have been Michelle Roche, Minuteman’s director of career and technical education, as well as and teacher/facilitators Sarah Ard (horticulture) and Becky Quay (engineering).

In her remarks to the girls, Rodriguez gave an overview of her professional life, "highlighting the events that made me the person I am today, creating my interest in STEM and my career as an engineer."

 Inspired by McAuliffe

With hero astronaut Christa McAuliffe in mind, Rodriguez said she planned years ago to become a teacher. Her strong affinity for physics and engineering won out, however, she recalled, "so I decided to create my own path."

Her journey included graduating with a bachelor’s degree in engineering science in 2010 from Smith College. Rodriguez then landed a position at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, which specializes in developing new technology to enhance national security. She began as a data analyst in the Air Traffic Control Systems department before working on a nanosatellite and now does software development for a laser communications system.

Determined and enterprising, Rodriguez isn’t limiting herself to earth-bound goals. "Mars is the next logical destination for exploration," she said, "and I believe I have that pioneering spirit to go beyond my boundaries and donate my life to science by demonstrating that humans can live on Mars. I understand the level of risk for such a mission, but I believe it is possible."

Quote bar, red"The girls were inspired by the way Yari overcame many barriers and setbacks to achieve her goals."
Julia Ruderman of Arlington

She may get the chance to test that theory. Rodriguez is contending for a position as an astronaut with a nonprofit global organization called Mars One, which intends to establish the first human colonies on Mars starting in 2026.

"One-way journey"

According to Rodriguez, anyone older than 18 could apply; 24 candidates who meet certain criteria will be chosen this fall to begin intensive training for this space mission -- "a one-way journey," in her words -- that will require a degree of personal sacrifice, daring and bravery possessed by few. Knowing the immense hazards of such a voyage to an overwhelmingly inhospitable environment for people does not faze her. She is emphatic and unswerving in her commitment to someday explore the heavens, despite the perils. In fact, when Rodriguez talks about her dream, she sounds poetic, almost lyrical.

"My goal as a little girl was to one day stand on another planet and see the crescent of Earth during the night sky. It was November 2010 when I first read the headline, 'NASA plans to send volunteers on ONE WAY mission to Mars to colonize planet.' The idea of going to Mars immediately became a goal [for me]."

When Rodriguez heard about the Mars One astronaut candidate search, she did not hesitate to toss her hat in the ring. "I know that, one way or another, life has been preparing me for this trip all along," she declared.

"I mentioned to the girls at Minuteman that once I learned what was required of me to become an astronaut, I based all my decisions around reaching this goal. I have the skills to succeed and I am committed to learning.”

President of Girls in STEM

Minuteman senior Julia Ruderman of Arlington, who is studying engineering and is president of the Girls in STEM Club, said, "I think the most important thing the students got out of Yari’s presentation is that you should always pursue your dreams, regardless of what others say or think. The girls were inspired by the way Yari overcame many barriers and setbacks to achieve her goals."

A key reason for implementing Minuteman’s Girls in STEM Camp was to give middle school students accomplished females, such as Rodriguez, to relate to, emulate and be guided by. "Role models inspire them to believe in themselves," she explained. "I told them to believe in themselves, decide what they want -- and go after it."

Minuteman collaborates with parents, communities and business leaders to serve a diverse student body with multiple learning styles. Through a rigorous integrated curriculum, students gain both academic and career and technical skills for a revolutionary competitive advantage. Lifelong learning that fosters personal and professional development is valued at Minuteman. All students are challenged to aspire to their full potential, accelerate their learning, and achieve success in the 21st-century global community.

This feature story, provided by Minuteman, was published Monday, Feb. 29, 2016.

HANDS-ON: Minuteman students build/renovate homes in Wayland, Lexington, Lincoln

 Hands-on experience is key to an education at Minuteman High School in Lexington. Students are expected to put their newly gained technical skills to use beyond the classroom in situations that mirror what they would encounter on the job.

For example, carpentry students at Minuteman build homes in the school’s district communities, do projects such as creating Little Free Library book boxes for the Town of Needham and are a widely valued resource for the professional-caliber work they produce.

Vocational education at Minuteman is a crucial pipeline for workforce development in this state. In fact, Governor Charlie Baker strongly affirmed his support for vocational education in his 2016 State of the Commonwealth message, lauding it as "a pathway to a bright future" and allocating $83.5 million to it in his proposed FY17 budget.

Homes in three of the school’s district towns -- Wayland, Lexington and Lincoln -- being built or renovated by Minuteman's carpentry students, in conjunction with students in plumbing, electrical and HVAC. These projects are in various stages of completion.

"Each is somewhat unique and gives the students a variety of learning experiences including new construction, old construction, cold environment, warm environment and working with outside general contractors and volunteers," said Kyle Romano, Minuteman's plumbing/HVAC instructor and off-site project coordinator.

Affordable housing

The Wayland and Lexington homes will be earmarked as affordable housing for eligible families, so the Minuteman students are learning about what it means to serve the community.

The project in Wayland at 91-93 and 95-97 Stonebridge Road, which is being done for Habitat for Humanity -- MetroWest/Greater Worcester, consists of two new duplexes on the same lot. The first was completed last December, and the second is underway with an anticipated completion date of next fall.

Each duplex measures about 1,100 square feet; one has three bedrooms, the other has two. "The framing is constructed by the Habitat volunteers," explained Romano, "and the Minuteman students are responsible for all the mechanicals including the plumbing, electrical and heating systems." A total of 41 Minuteman students are involved in this project.

"Working with Minuteman has been a great partnership for Habitat for Humanity," said its construction manager, Jon Bram. "The work they do is neat and professional. The generous donation of labor by the school allows us to realize our mission of making home ownership a possibility for hard-working, low-income families."

World War I-era home

The Lexington house the Minuteman students are working on is being done for the Lexington Housing Assistance Board, said board member Lester Savage, who noted that the Rotary Club of Lexington is another partner. At 11 Fairview Ave., this 1,200-square-foot Colonial was built during the World War I era and has not been renovated in years, Savage explained.

The students are doing what he called "a gut renovation" -- installing new heating and electrical systems, a new kitchen and bathroom, plus high-efficiency windows, as well as trimming out the woodwork. Twenty Minuteman carpentry students will replace windows and the outside deck; 20 plumbing students, 15 electricians and six HVAC students will perform all the mechanical work.

"The house is solid," Savage said, "but needs a lot."

Alongside this structure a three-unit building is being constructed. The general contractor of this project, Transformations Inc., of Ayer, which is supervising the renovation, specializes in "zero energy" residences which, according to the company’s website, "are designed to produce as much energy as they consume over a year’s time." Students will make on-site visits, providing educational opportunities, which is yet another benefit for the students, who will see the latest state-of-the-art, energy-efficient technology close-up and in action.

"It’s great to have young people involved," Savage said. "The students are helping people who need it, and it allows us to keep our costs down."

Project in Lincoln

The third construction project, at 16 Mill St., Lincoln, is a 2,000-square-foot, single-family house with three bedrooms that is owned by the Minuteman district and was built in 1988 by Minuteman students. The house is unoccupied, explained Romano, and is undergoing a major renovation scheduled for possible completion in June.

Twenty carpentry students are replacing the windows, doors, vinyl siding, kitchen cabinets, hardwood floors, roofing and the outside deck. Twenty plumbing students, 15 electricians, and six HVAC students are replacing and upgrading all the mechanical systems.

"Minuteman has worked with Habitat for Humanity in the past, and only recently we have reached out to them for a continued relationship," Romano said. "Minuteman has been a partner with LexHAB for many years constructing a variety of homes throughout our district. The Mill Street home is owned by the district and we occasionally perform as-needed maintenance."

He underscored the value of what the students derive from doing these types of projects, such as developing an appreciation of fine workmanship. "They learn the importance of taking pride in what they do and that mistakes should be kept to a minimum. The students also learn the projects have a timeline and the importance of working in a safe manor to meet the timeline."

Savage observed that the partnership between LexHAB and Minuteman represents an investment in the students’ future as professionals in the industry.

"We know they are the next generation of quality workers," he said. "Minuteman does a great job of training them."

This feature story provided by Minuteman was published Monday, Feb. 22, 2016.

State agency moves Minuteman plan forward, too

Minteman High School logo

Meeting at its offices in downtown Boston on Jan. 27, the Massachusetts School Building Authority board voted unanimously to authorize its executive director to enter into a project-funding agreement with Minuteman for the new $144.9 million educational facility.

MSBA is expected to pay 44.75 percent of eligible project costs -- up to a maximum of $44,139,213.

Immediately before the vote, State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg commended the school for the quality of its academic and technical programs and encouraged parents to give the school a closer look Treasurer Goldberg serves as chair of the MSBA board of directors.

The treasurer made a public appeal to parents in the district to consider sending their children to Minuteman. "It would behoove a lot of families," she said, "to really look at the Minuteman programs."

Minuteman’s technical programs "give kids the skills they need for the good jobs in the Commonwealth," she said.

Goldberg also told Superintendent Edward Bouquillon, "You have tremendous academic programs." She said she had visited Minuteman’s Girls in STEM Summer Camp, a program she described as "very exciting."

Minuteman must now secure local approval of the project, a process that is not expected to start until after all 16 member towns hold Special Town Meetings to ratify a new Minuteman regional agreement. Arlington approved the accord Jan. 25.>

The final Special Town Meeting is scheduled for Feb. 24. Sometime after that, the Minuteman School Committee will vote to bond for the project.

The new school, to be located on District-owned land in Lincoln, will include two Career Academies with 16 career and technical programs and a robust offering of academic programs, including Advanced Placement and Honors courses, foreign languages, music, art and sports.

This news release was published Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016.

Minuteman super elected to national tech-assessment board

Minteman High School logo

Dr. Edward A. Bouquillon, superintendent at Minuteman High School, has been elected to the board of trustees of a national organization that is the leading provider of competency-based career and technical assessments in the country. He will serve on the 11-member board of NOCTI, formerly known as the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute, based in Michigan.Minuteman super elected to national tech-assessment board.

NOCTI creates assessments and testing for students studying in career and technical education programs in high schools and technical colleges throughout the nation.

Bouquillon is the only person from New England to serve on the volunteer board. The other 10 members come from Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri, Ohio and Georgia.

"I’m pleased and honored to join the NOCTI team," Bouquillon said in a news release. "Throughout my career, I’ve been a strong advocate for competency-based testing and assessment."

On its website, NOCTI describes itself as "the largest provider of industry-based credentials and partner industry certifications for career and technical education programs across the nation."

The NOCTI board sets policy and oversees the organization’s budget. It normally meets twice a year. NOCTI will cover the costs of Bouquillon’s travel to board meetings.

Bouquillon has served as a vocational school administrator in Massachusetts and Vermont. He recently served as president of the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, the largest professional association for vocational administrators in Massachusetts. He serves on the governing body of the Alliance for Vocational Technical Education, a new statewide organization dedicated to increasing access to high-quality vocational-technical education in Massachusetts.

He has more than 25 years of experience in education. He holds a doctorate in workforce education and development from Penn State University, a master's in agriculture industry from Penn State and a bachelor of science in occupational and vocational Education from the University of Connecticut.

This announcement was published Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016.

Selectmen back revised accord for a Minuteman district facing change

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to recommend Monday, Jan. 11, that the Special Town Meeting in two weeks approve the substantially revised agreement with the Minuteman School District.

Board of Selectmen logo, Jan. 23, 2013

Minteman High School logoSelectman Dan Dunn, who moved for support and has been a key player in crafting the new accord, said the agreement would improve the town's leverage.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said that "without the agreement, we would be in a worse position," because Minuteman could take the issues to the voters by having it put on town ballots. Town Counsel Doug Heim nodded as the manager spoke.

In its support, Arlington, which sends the most students to Minuteman among the 16 districts, is going against the grain in some respects. Following Town Meeting votes by mid-February, the Minuteman district may have fewer member towns. Dunn told his colleagues "four of five." A document on the board's agenda lists seven -- Boxborough, Carlisle, Dover, Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston.

Focus on Article 8

Without Chairman Kevin Greeley, who was away on business, board members held brief hearings for the first two Minuteman articles. Each vote was 4-0.

The board recommended no action on Article 6, a bond authorization for Minuteman school construction, as well as 7, an amendment allowing Wayland to withdraw from the district.

"We want Article 8," Dunn said, "This is the big one."

This measure, significantly revised from an agreement that Town Meeting endorsed in 2014, calls for a process allowing towns to withdraw and changes in changes to capital appropriation. Read the full text of Heim's memo about this and other Minuteman articles below.

Acting Chair Diane Mahon expressed concern about how Arlington would be assessed for capital costs. She also asked about the funding process that the new agreement may commit to.

"We are committing to no expenditures," Dunn said.

But what members do at Town Meeting this winter is expected to reshape the district, and the final number involved will have an impact on what each pays.

Speculation about who might leave

Dunn made clear he did not know for certain which would leave, but those expected to leave send few students to Minuteman. From Arlington, in the 2014-15 school year, 158 attended Minuteman. Each town pays according to the number of students in attendance.

The board supported Article 8 in 4-0 vote.

Asked Jan. 12 to clarify which towns could leave, Dunn wrote of the seven listed above: "Speculation follows: I'd bet money that Wayland will go. Carlisle, Boxborough and Sudbury will probably go.

"Dover and Lincoln are tough calls. Weston I actually think will stay, but I'm far from certain."

Counsel's memo on Article 8

Part of Jan. 7, 2016, memo to selectmen from Town Counsel Douglas W. Heim on Article 8, Special Town Meeting

I write to provide the Board a summary of the above-referenced warrant articles to assist in the Board's consideration of these articles at its upcoming hearing on January 11, 2016.

In the interests of clarity, articles are presented in the order in which they appeal' on the Special Town Meeting Warrant, and articles examined by the Finance Committee have been included without substantive analysis by this Office. Further, for the Board's convenience, attached to the end of this memo are copies of reference materials.


To see if the Town will vote, consistent with Section VII of the existing Minuteman "Agreement With Respect to the Establishment of a Technical and Vocational Regional School District," to accept and approve amendments to said Agreement approved by the majority of the Regional School Committee, and which have been submitted to the Board of Selectmen of each member town prior to its respective vote on this article, including amendments which would allow for the withdrawal of present members of the District, or take any action related thereto. .

(Inserted at the request of the Town Manager)

This article correctly anticipated the December 21, 2015 vote the Minuteman Regional Vocational School District Committee to revise the Regional Agreement governing the rights and responsibilities of member communities.' Such vote by the Minuteman School Committee requires each member community to hold a Special Town Meeting on or before March 1, 2016 to adopt or reject the proposed amendments to the Regional Agreement.

As has been previously reported to the Board by its representatives to Minuteman, including the Regional Agreement Amendment Subcommittee (RAAS), the December 21, 2015 amendments are substantial and the product of lengthy discussions between and among the Regional School District and its members. Many amendments are similar or the same to the 2014 proposed revised agreement, and some are new to the amendments voted upon by the Minuteman School Committee on December 21, 2015. The most significant amendments include:

The instant article while placed upon the warrant prior to the Minuteman School Committee December 21, 2015 vote, provides sufficient notice to the Town of all the actions contemplated by the proposed amended Regional Agreement and further satisfies Minuteman's request. The article as articulated here is broader in scope, but otherwise virtually identical to Minuteman's suggested language.

• Weighted voting for the majority of Minuteman School Committee actions;

• A revised process by which member communities can exit the Regional Agreement without incurring additional debt obligations, including specific provision to allow (but not mandate) the withdrawal of members Boxborough, Carlisle, Dover, Lincoln, Sudbury, Wayland, and Weston;

• Revised capital assessment formulas; and

• Provisions for non-member communities to pay capital fees equivalent to the average per pupil capital assessments of members.

As Members of the Board will recall from previous discussions, in order to be adopted, the Amended Regional Agreement must first be approved by Town Meeting votes in each of the sixteen (16) member communities, and then further approved by the Commissioner of Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Warrant for Jan. 25, 2016 Special Town Meeting

Dec. 28, 2015: New Minuteman accord aims to pave way for rebuilt school in Lincoln

Dec. 9, 20156: Minuteman proposal that lets towns opt out gains selectmen support
July 5, 2015: Selectmen oppose ballot question to jump-start Minuteman renovation
Opinion, May 20, 2015: Minuteman plans advance, but what are there chances?
Feb. 16, 2015: Selectmen discuss Minuteman building plan; one expresses doubt on enrollment forecast
Minuteman assessments explained >> 
Feb. 10, 2015: First look at cost of a new Minuteman High: $79m to $106m

This summary was published Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016.


Minuteman students offered paths to earn college credit

Minteman High School logo

Qualified high school students have avenues available to them to earn college credit before they even cross the threshold of an institution of higher learning.

Doing so has several important advantages, said Carol Cohen, coordinator of college and career Readiness at Minuteman High School in Lexington.

She explained that it’s much less expensive to obtain college credit in high school; it shows that high school students are capable of handling demanding college-level work; and it’s an impressive accomplishment to have on resumes and college applications.

"It really is great to have an early start on accumulating college credits," said Kevin Ham, of Lexington, who took classes at Middlesex Community College while he was a student at Minuteman, graduating in 2015. "Not only did I earn college credit at a reduced rate, it really helped on my resume, for college scholarships and internships."

The three typical ways of getting college credit in high school, Cohen said in a news release, are Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment and through articulation agreements.

Advanced Placement, offered by many high schools, involves having students take courses in high school whose curriculum is established by the College Board, the national organization which specializes in college preparation and also administers the SAT. Students enrolled in these courses take a test in May based on what they have studied during the year. Those tests are scored from 1 to 5; anyone who gets a 4 or 5 receives college credit in that subject.

To qualify for Dual Enrollment, students must first take a test from the College Board called the Accuplacer, which measures proficiency in reading, math, computer skills and writing. They may then take college classes while they are still in high school, thus earning credit towards their high school diploma and toward a college degree as well. In addition, they pay for college courses at a significantly reduced rate, said Ms. Cohen, another notable practical benefit.

The third option is to take advantage of articulation agreements which are established between secondary schools and colleges and allow high school students who successfully complete certain vocational programs to be granted admission, college credit or advanced standing at participating colleges.

At Minuteman, students are encouraged to explore all possible options to achieve their educational goals during and following high school. Minuteman delivers a combination of robust academics and powerful career and technical skills that gives students a competitive edge in the new economy. It is one of 26 regional vocational-technical school districts in Massachusetts.

For Ham, who concentrated in electrical wiring at Minuteman and intends to become a licensed electrician befor assuming a management position in a construction trade, taking courses at Middlesex Community College under Dual Enrollment was the right choice. Not only was Ham able to complete two math requirements through Dual Enrollment and complete an English requirement over the summer, but the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston gave him credit for all the courses he took at Middlesex.

Today, Ham is a union electrical apprentice with Local 103 full-time days, and is on track to have his bachelor’s degree in project management issued at the same time he gets his electrical license. Reflecting on his decision to opt for Dual Enrollment, Ham said, "It was definitely hard work but manageable. I would recommend the program to anyone who thinks they may attend college after high school. It really is great to have an early start on accumulating college credits. It also helped me when I applied for scholarships. I really stood out on top."

Minuteman’s Cohen summed up the feasibility of obtaining college credits in high school this way: "It’s meeting students where they’re at and giving them what they need."

Ham framed the pluses in terms of how they enhance his professional future. "Careers are all about options," he declared. "I want as many as I can have."

This news release was published Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015. 

New Minuteman accord aims to pave way for rebuilt school in Lincoln

Member towns face votes at winter meetings; borrowing postponed

Minteman High School logo

In decisions designed to pave the way for construction of a new school, the Minuteman School Committee has approved consensus amendments to the Minuteman Regional Agreement and authorized the negotiation of an accord with the Town of Lincoln, to be the host community for the new school.

At a special meeting Dec. 21, the Minuteman School Committee also voted to postpone a decision to borrow $144.9 million to build a new school. That delay had been sought by area selectmen to give towns an opportunity to vote first on the new regional agreement.

The School Committee is now expected to take a bonding vote no later than Feb. 23.

Minuteman is expecting its 16 member towns to hold Special Town Meetings before March 1 to ratify the changes in the regional agreement. Arlington will take up the issues at its Jan. 25 Special Town Meeting, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine has told YourArlington.

Dunn among those named who pushed agreement

Those changes were agreed to by selectmen from the member towns during meetings in Weston hosted by selectman Douglas Gillespie.

Among other things, the new regional agreement streamlines the process for withdrawal by member towns, eliminates the five-student minimum charged to member towns for capital costs and requires out-of-district communities to help pay for their share of capital costs of a new building.

Superintendent Bouquillon thanked town officials from the 16 member communities for coming to an agreement.

"We gave the area selectmen a big job and an almost impossible deadline by which to get it done, but they’ve come through," Dr. Edward Bouquillon, superintendent-director of Minuteman High School, said in a Dec. 28 news release. "They put aside their differences and rallied around this project."

Following a Dec. 2 meeting in Weston, a smaller group of selectmen worked to iron out details of the proposed changes to the regional agreement. That group included Dan Dunn of Arlington, Dan Matthews of Needham and Vince Amoroso of Boxborough.

The Minuteman School Committee will now work with Lincoln officials to negotiate terms of a separate, intermunicipal agreement. The proposed agreement is expected to provide Lincoln with a phased-in annual payment in exchange for a host of services to be provided to Minuteman, including security, emergency response and related support.

Minuteman submitted a schematic design to the Massachusetts School Building Authority on Dec. 1.

State expected to pay 44.75%

The state authority is expected to pay 44.75 percent of eligible project costs, up from the 40 percent originally anticipated. Because not all project costs qualify for reimbursement, the net reimbursement rate for the project is expected to be approximately 33 percent.

The state agency has given Minuteman until next June 30 to secure local approvals.

The new school building will be built on land already owned by the district, in Lincoln, near the existing building. Plans calls for two career academies with 16 career- and technical-education programs, plus a robust offering of academic curriculum.

Under the new agreement, communities pay a "host community consideration" of $138,000 a year, indexed to inflation, to Lincoln. 

Asked by board Chairman Kevin Greeley at the Dec. 7 se;lectmen's meeting how many students Lincoln sends to Minuteman, Dunn said, "two or three." From Arlington, in the 2014-15 school year, 158 attended Minuteman. Each town pays according to the number of students in attendance.

The Minuteman district includes 16 member communities: Acton, Arlington, Belmont, Bolton, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Dover, Lancaster, Lexington, Lincoln, Needham, Stow, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston.

Dec. 9, 20156: Minuteman proposal that lets towns opt out gains selectmen support

July 5, 2015: Selectmen oppose ballot question to jump-start Minuteman renovation
Opinion, May 20, 2015: Minuteman plans advance, but what are there chances?
Feb. 16, 2015: Selectmen discuss Minuteman building plan; one expresses doubt on enrollment forecast
Feb. 12, 2015: Open house for students parents March 5
Minuteman assessments explained >> 
Feb. 10, 2015: First look at cost of a new Minuteman High: $79m to $106m

This report was published Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. 

Arlington student in Minuteman Girls in STEM earns state award

Julia RudermanRuderman

Minuteman High School’s Girls in STEM Club has earned another award, this one from the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators (MAVA).

Accepting the award on behalf of the Girls in STEM Club at Minuteman on Wednesday, Nov. 18, were students Julia Ruderman of Arlington, majoring in engineering, and Alicia Benway of Waltham, majoring in horticulture and landscape technology.

Minuteman’s Girls in STEM Club was invited to make a presentation to about 200 vocational administrators from across the state at MAVA’s general membership meeting in Marlborough. Fourteen young women from Minuteman attended.

The young women received the "Student Champions Award for Excellence" for developing a sustainable program that provides opportunities for young women in high school to be mentored by adult professionals working in STEM fields. In turn, Minuteman students serve as mentors for middle school and elementary school students, arranging tours of the high school, visiting middle and elementary schools, and leading hands-on STEM experiments, projects and activities.
The "Student Champions Award for Excellence" award was presented by MAVA President John Lavoie, the superintendent-director at Greater Lawrence Technical School. 

Minuteman's Girls in STEM Club operates under the leadership of engineering teacher Becky Quay and horticulture and landscaping technology teacher Sarah Ard.

The mission of the Girls in STEM Mentoring initiative is to encourage and engage girls and young women to pursue and advance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics

This announcement was published Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.

Arlington student at Minuteman named commended merit scholar

Julia RudermanRuderman

Julia Ruderman, a senior at Minuteman High School in Lexington, has been named a commended student in the 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program. She is among 34,000 students nationwide to earn this recognition based on their performance on the 2014 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test administered last October.

According to information from the National Merit Scholarship Corp., commended students are honored for "the exceptional academic promise" shown by their scores on the qualifying test. Ruderman will receive a letter of commendation for her achievement.

She is the daughter of Susan and A. Michael Ruderman, a Precinct 9 Town Meeting member.

Another senior from Minuteman, Rachel Toups of Boxborough, also was named a commended student.

Ruderman, of Arlington, is studying engineering technology. Her activities include cross country (she is girls' team captain), senior class vice president, SkillsUSA participant and Minuteman chapter secretary, Girls in STEM Club president, National Honor Society, volunteering at Ironstone Farm in Andover, and Model UN. She plans to study civil engineering or architecture in college (or combine the two disciplines).

Earlier this year, she Ruderman was the recipient of a $5,000 first prize in the second annual Frederick Douglass Prize U.S. History Essay Contest sponsored by the Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based public policy research organization. She wrote about the Old Schwamb Mill in Arlington. 

This extended announcement was published Friday, Oct. 1, 2015.

State School Building Authority backs construction of new Minuteman

The Massachusetts School Building Authority has unanimously endorsed the building of a new 628-student Minuteman High School on district land near the existing school.

Minteman High School logoMeeting in Boston, the agency board of directors voted, 4-0, on Thursday, Aug. 6, in favor of the district’s "preferred solution" -- construction of a new $144.9 million school for 628 students. The board also authorized the school to prepare detailed schematic drawings for the new building.

"This is a huge step forward," said Ford Spalding, chairman of the Minuteman School Building Committee. "Now it’s time for everyone in our member communities to rally around this project and protect the $58 million that MSBA is offering to invest."

The positive news helps offset the current climate among member towns, which is far from unanimous about the project, as reacxtions at an Aug. 3 meeting in Sudbury shows

The new high school, which would be built in the Town of Lincoln on land already owned by the district, would be funded by the state and the 16 district towns. The state would pay a minimum of 40 percent of eligible costs.

The new school would be smaller in size than the current school, with fewer students, but would still offer a host of advanced career- and technical-education programs designed to meet the region’s current and emerging workforce needs.

State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, who chairs the agency board, delivered an impassioned plea supporting vocational technical education and the value of schools such as Minuteman across the Commonwealth.

"There’s a direct connection between these schools and sustainable economic development in the state," Goldberg said in a news release provided by Minuteman.

She described Minuteman as a "magnet" for students who will be filling 21st-century jobs. "We need to move forward," she said, "because of what it means to the state and our future."

Once parents begin to see the connection between vocational technical education and high-paying jobs, she said she would not be surprised to see Minuteman back at the MSBA seeking to expand.

Superintendent Edward A. Bouquillon said in the release: "It’s been a lot of hard work, and I’m very pleased. We’ve spent six years getting to this point. I’m grateful that the MSBA has stood solidly behind us every step of the way."

Bouquillon told the agency board that Minuteman would continue working with its 16 member towns to inform and educate them about the project. Communication plans, including information meetings throughout the district, are being completed.

In a four-page memo provided to the board, Mary Pichetti, agency director of capital planning, outlined a series of reasons that MSBA staff was recommending approval of the Minuteman project. Among others, she said, vocational technical education plays an important role in the economic future of the state; Minuteman is an important educational resource for students; the school’s Educational Program Plan is "comprehensive," demonstrates demand for proposed programs and aligns with evolving trends in employment; and there is a need for capital investment in the existing facility.

The July 21 memo also noted that new vocational technical regulations establish a capital fee to be added to nonresident students' tuitions and an additional fee for nonresident students enrolled in special education. According to the memo, this change " ... addresses one of the district’s long-standing concerns regarding its members' share of supporting nonresident students."

The memo strongly endorsed the planned 628-student school. It also indicated that a school with an enrollment of 600 is the smallest school the agency would be willing to commit state funds to.

"The district has worked with its School Committee to craft a fiscally responsible plan that downsizes the school to avoid overreliance on nonmember enrollment while still maintaining a high-quality vocational and academic curriculum," Pichetti wrote. She said a school of 435 students "is not operationally sustainable and would not meet the district’s educational goals.

"[T]he MSBA would not be able to support the construction of a high school with a design enrollment less than 600 students due to the diseconomies of scale affecting the cost and the ability for the district to deliver its desired curriculum."

Pichetti said a review of enrollment and application data " ... demonstrate sufficient demand for program offerings to ensure the facility will be utilized."

Agency board member Terry Kwan said she would be "loath" to support a school with fewer than 600 students.

State Representative Carmine L. Gentile, Democrat of Sudbury, and Representative Alice Peisch, Democrat of Wellesley, also spoke to the board, noting that some town officials still had concerns about the size of the planned school and how it’s going to be funded. However, both also acknowledged the need for a new school.

The new school will include two career academies and new programming, including Advanced Manufacturing & Fabrication and Multi-Media Design & Engineering. It will also substantially improve lab space for Robotics, Engineering and Automation; Environmental Science and Technology; Culinary Arts and Hospitality; and Health Assisting, allowing students to access high-level curriculum. It will also continue to offer AP classes, foreign languages, music, art and a rigorous offering of college prep classes.

Minuteman must still secure local approval for the project -- the big if along 16 member towns.

The Minuteman School Committee has been discussing how best to proceed. State laws allows two options: approval from Town Meetings in each of the 16 member towns or approval through a one-day districtwide referendum. No decision has been made, and the ballot questions is expected be discussed publicly in September.

Some School Committee members have indicated that they want to hold off making a decision on the best approval process until the 16 communities have an opportunity to learn more about the project and understand critical financial and educational advantages of the new school.

As Building Committee chair, Spalding has said repeatedly that it's important to preserve MSBA’s base reimbursement rate of 40 percent -- which amounts to $58 million of a $144.9 million project. "If we turn down this project," Spalding says, "the costs to our towns of repairing the building will far exceed what we’re going to invest in building a new school."

Earlier this year, the Minuteman School Building Committee hosted public presentations in 15 of its 16 member communities and solicited input on five options, including renovation of the existing school, renovation and addition, and construction of a new school. Of those who completed written or online surveys, 89.1 percent of the respondents preferred construction of a new school.

A Building Committee Subcommittee estimated that repairing the school piecemeal would be almost twice as expensive as building a new school, take 10 years or more to complete, be more disruptive to students, probably hurt enrollment, and likely lead to the loss of Minuteman’s accreditation.

Minuteman entered into a feasibility study with MSBA in 2009.

The Minuteman district includes 16 member communities: Acton, Arlington, Belmont, Bolton, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Dover, Lancaster, Lexington, Lincoln, Needham, Stow, Sudbury, Wayland, and Weston.

This report was published Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015.

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Don Seltzer For town housing, move beyond critique to solutions
24 January 2022
Grant, up until your final snide comment I am in general agreement with you. Impact of new housing upon public school enrollment is highly dependent on the type of housing. And that is why I fault t...
Grant Cook For town housing, move beyond critique to solutions
24 January 2022
I will point out Don that your own math around school enrollment that really don't justify the hyperbole of claiming that a new elementary is around the corner. Your calculation around housing units ...
Steve Berczuk For town housing, move beyond critique to solutions
23 January 2022
Also: I was reacting to the comment that I made an incorrect "accusation" which I take seriously. Looking at the two articles again, my "facts straight" comment was about this sentence "This draft rep...

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