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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.

ARTICLE 8: SUBSTANTIVE AMENDMENTS TO THE MINUTEMAN DISTRICT AGREEMENT, INCLUDING AN "INITIAL WITHDRAWAL PROCESS"

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.

 

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