In the face of a reported $765 million state midyear budget deficit, Rep. Sean Garballey, Democrat of Arlington, assured the School Committee on Thursday, Jan. 22, "there should be no need to cut local aid."
Whether or not that occurs will not be up to one local representative.
Garballey spoke to the committee mainly to update them about his legislative efforts.
Filed on behalf of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, they seek limits on unfunded mandates and high-stakes testing. The former are requirements school districts face without enough money to pay for them.
The goal, he said, is to first require an investigation into costs for programs and ways to fund them via partnerships around priorities.
In addition, he said, he has refiled a bill for six years aimed at getting insurance companies to pay for mental-health counseling at schools. "One way to stop gun violence [at schools] is by addressing mental health, he said, in an indirect reference to the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in which 26 died.
Overall, Arlington Town Meeting members come regularly to Town Hall sessions. A review of attendance records kept by the clerk's office from 2012 through 2014 shows that members are present for sessions almost 85 percent of the time.
Yet some members' attendance is far from stellar, leading the moderator to consider what steps can be taken improve matters. Town Meeting in Arlington, operating since 1807, has no law to address no-shows.
The town election is two months away, but who will be on the ballot is being determined now. In the light of this, YourArlington took a closer look at the attendance records of Town Meeting members up for reelection in 2015.
A check of the 83 Town Meeting members whose terms are up in 2015 provides insight about which members come and which do not.
On the one hand, 31 whose seats are up this year had perfect records between 2012 and 2014. Of the 83 individuals up for reelection this year, 52 have less than perfect attendance. The following stand out for lack attendance. Each who responded to a request for comment has reasons:
As snow fell, a box truck rolled over on Summer Street near King Street about 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, blocking traffic for a time.
Washington Street resident Marjorie Howard, who was shoveling snow near her home, was drawn to the nearby commotion and took the photo.
Further information will be available once police issue a report.
After the Town of Arlington declared a snow emergency/parking ban, effective Sunday Jan. 25, from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., forecasters are calling for a sizable storm Tuesday, depending on the track. Here is one >>
During this time parking is not allowed on all streets, permitted spots and municipal lots. In an announcement, the town said it is crucial to keep cars off the streets during snow events to allow the town to clear the roads. Any vehicles parked on the streets during these hours will be subject to ticketing and towing.
UPDATED, Jan. 21: A chilly drizzle seemed to bring fear to Town Hall -- fear about the future, a fear that planners are trying to manage.
At the end of a two-hour hearing on a draft of the master plan for the town Monday, Jan. 12, the Redevelopment Board decided to postpone a final vote on the draft for two weeks.
Planners received further public comments through Tuesday, Jan. 20, before the board meets for a final vote on the draft plan on Monday, Jan. 26.
New comments have been posted to the master-plan section here >>
Town Meeting faces a vote on the plan in the spring.
Twenty speakers expressed their views about the plan, in the works since October 2012, at a Town Hall hearing attended by about 75 people.
In a 3-0 vote to postpone, the board heard a variety concerns, including a number about the lack of time to read the latest version, 212 pages, made public Jan. 5.
See selectmen on cable | Supporting agenda documents (click items tab next to meeting date)
The Board of Selectmen will meet Monday, Jan. 26, at 7:15 p.m. in the Selectmen's Chambers, second floor, Town Hall. Agenda*:
1. Minutes of Meetings: January 12, 2015
2. Reappointment: Board of Health
Marie Walsh Condon, M.D. (term to expire 1/31/2018)
3. Reappointment: Commission on Arts and Culture
UPDATED, Jan. 25: Now it's 12 straight. The Spy Ponder boys' basketball team kept its unbeaten string intact as it crushed Wilmington, 78-49. Josh Lee scored a game-high 24 points, and Miles Robinson added 23.
In a home game in which purple was the color, reflecting a drug-awareness message, the girls' basketball team beat Wilmington, 68-46. Junior Margaret Ammondson scored 17 points as the team improved to 7-4.
Hear his work on WGBH Tuesday, next month
John Kusiak was once a rock-'n'-roll guitarist, on the road with the Pousette-Dart Band and other groups, continuing to play the music he had loved since age 12, when he began guitar lessons in his native Agawam. Nowadays, his life is more sedentary. He works out of his Arlington studio, composing music for dozens of commercials, documentaries and live performances.
His latest work will be heard in two upcoming broadcasts. On Tuesday, Jan. 27, "American Experience" will feature a program about Thomas Edison on WGBH, and in February, HBO will present "The Jinx," a six-part documentary series about Robert Durst, scion of a wealthy family who may have gotten away with murder.
Kusiak's music will set the mood for these productions, as it has for his other work. He walks a careful line in not overpowering the dialogue or events the viewer is seeing, yet establishing the tone and helping the viewer have an emotional response.
Debt exclusion for AHS rebuild coming; no override seen until fiscal 2021
The town manager's official recommended budget for fiscal 2016 totals $140,935,623, 2.43 percent higher than the current-year's fiscal plan.
The proposed total school budget for fiscal 2016 is $53,574,113, a 5.61-percent increase over the current fiscal year.
The budget plan includes the town's long-range financial plan, which says officials expect a shortfall in fiscal 2021, when the town could seek an override. The projected budget deficit for that year is $11.6 million. An override, last taken in 2011, is how a town raises money by an amount above the 2.5 percent allowed by Proposition 2 1/2, a state law.
Officials had thought the 2011 override for $6.49 million would be enough for three years, but current estimates show the money is projected to last nine years. Officials have said that this is, in part, because of savings after town employees joined the Group Insurance Commission, the state's insurance plan.
While an override is years away, voters will soon be asked to support a debt exclusion. That is a tax increase to pay for a specific project -- in this case, to pay for the proposed rebuild of the century-old Arlington High School.
Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine told YourArlington that debt exclusion will not include renovations of the Stratton School. His budget message says the proposed funding plan for Stratton will use the remaining authorization from the successful 2000 school debt exclusion ballot question.