Friday, October 1, 2010
News from surrounding towns
The following news items were extracted from material in area newspapers and available online.
• MCAS and No Child Left Behind. The Carlisle School was ranked in fourth place in the state in the sixth-grade math MCAS results, while Acton’s Luther Conant School ranked in first place in Math and second place in English. High school MCAS passing rates were listed by school district. A total of 99% of Concord-Carlisle High School students taking the English MCAS passed, while 98% passed the Math and Science tests. (See related article, page 4.)
Roughly 57% of the schools in the state are not reaching performance targets under the federal No Child Left Behind program. The federal guidelines not only set performance standards but mandate continued progress. Massachusetts Commissioner for Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell Chester said, “A lot of people are questioning these federal targets.” (“Schools missing mark on MCAS,” www.boston.com, September 15.)
• Grant for job training. Thanks to a federal grant of $141,000, Minuteman Technical and Career High School will expand a program to train adults for entry-level jobs as technicians at biotech companies. The 90-day program will be offered to high school graduates and unemployed adults. The program is conducted in cooperation with local biotech companies. (Minuteman gets $141,000 in stimulus funds for biotech program,” www.wickedlocal.com, September 19.)
• Chelmsford sewer completed. After 24 years of construction, Chelmsford has finished a project to provide a sewer system throughout the town, at a total cost of $165 million. The system connects to the Lowell Regional Wastewater facility and included 41 pumping stations and 190 miles of pipe. Homes and businesses must still be hooked up to the system, a process which is expected to be completed by next spring. Single-family homes will be charged a $6,000 betterment fee for accessing the sewer, payable over up to 20 years. (“Final piece of Chelmsford sewer project set,” www.wickedlocal.com, September 21.)
• Taxes. Wayland had the distinction of setting the highest property tax rate at $17.78 per $1,000 of valuation in FY10. A dozen other towns have rates above $15, while Carlisle’s rate is $14.62. The state median was $12.57. (“Your Communities Snapshot: Property taxes,” Boston Globe, September 16) and www.carlislema.gov/Pages/CarlisleMA_Treasury/rate.
• Teleconferencing to government meetings? The majority of the Acton Board of Selectmen and School Committee favor allowing votes by teleconferencing or videoconferencing when members cannot attend a meeting in person. Attorney General Martha Coakley has requested comments on the proposal. (Acton selectmen, school committee members weigh remote participation in public meetings, www.wickedlocal.com, September 23.)
• Solar facilities in Concord. A 44-kilowatt solar power array has been installed at Concord’s Willard School, to provide an estimated 40% of the school’s energy. Concord’s Town Meeting voted to lease space for a solar power facility at the town’s wastewater treatment plant on Bedford Street and/or the Ammendolia land off Old Bedford Road and the selectmen have received two bids. (“Solar power at Willard School in Concord,” www.wickedlocal.com, September 24) and (“Concord selectmen to decide on solar panel installation, www.wickedlocal.com, September 24.)
• Housebreak. According to police reports a Westford resident surprised a masked intruder on September 20. The six-foot tall man fled on foot. According to Westford Police Captain Victor Neal, the man had a slender build and wore black clothes, gloves and sunglasses under a black ski mask with eye slits. Westford Police Captain Victor Neal is warning homeowners to “be vigilant in locking their homes and to remain alert in their surroundings.” Carlisle Police Chief John Sullivan encourages people to use common sense in safeguarding their homes and to call the police whenever they have concerns or notice suspicious activity.
• Campus security cameras proliferate. Approximately 130 security cameras have been installed in Lexington High School, funded by a $250,000 federal grant awarded to the Lexington Police Department. Cameras are also being installed at other Lexington public schools, and to date have been placed in two elementary schools and one middle school. “It’s really about creating a safer campus,” says Superintendent Paul Ash. Most cameras are placed in hallways and outside spaces and are not being used in classrooms. Recently the Lexington School Committee’s policy subcommittee discussed a draft policy on camera surveillance. According to the policy, the cameras “will not be placed where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.” According to subcommittee member Margaret Coppe, legal counsel will be consulted in preparing the final policy. She said, “I wasn’t really joking about the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] because they have expressed an interest in what we are doing here.” (“Committee revisits security camera policy in Lexington schools,” www.wickedlocal.com, September 9.)
• Minor earthquake felt September 25. A spot eight miles north of Concord, N.H. was the center of a magnitude 3.1 earthquake shortly before midnight last Saturday. Some residents in Acton, Chelmsford and Billerica reported feeling the quake. According to Boston College Geophysics Professor Dr. John Ebel, quakes of this size occur only once or twice a year in New England. Damage is rare for earthquakes with magnitude below 4 or 5. (“Quake rattles area; no damage reported,” www.lowellsun.com, September 27.)
• Westford legend explored. One theory about unusual carving on a rock off Depot Street in Westford is that it was carved by a 14th century expedition led by Scottish lord Henry Sinclair, to mark the site where one of the party died. David Goudsward, who has written a book about this theory, urges that the site be protected. (“Author explores legend of the Westford knight,” www.lowellsun.com, September 22.) ∆
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