Special-education logoSpecial-education costs, long uncertain and an issue the superintendent called "volatile," appear to be leveling off, and so the School Committee has approved a transfer of $500,000 for a "rainy-day fund."

In discussing the transfer Thursday, May 10, Superintendent Kathy Bodie cited "a little progress" in containing the costs for placing children in programs that are outside the district. That has included establishing programs within the district.

School Committee logo

Without in-district programs, she said, the district would have spent $2.3 million more had children gone beyond Arlington's borders. The process to offer special-education programs began several years ago under Mark Ryder, the former director of special education.

Bodie said this year's spending on out-of-district placements has been similar to amounts spent in the last two years, an average annual growth of 8 percent.

She thought it wise to take money saved in years when such spending is down and hold it for years when such expenses rise.

The School Committee approved the transfer to the reserve account at a special meeting Wednesday, May 9, before Town Meeting. The matter came under Article 47.

In response to a question from member Jeff Thielman about cost saving in other areas, Chief Financial Officer Diane Johnson pointed to utilities, because of the mild winter. She provided no figures.

New K-12 math director

In other business, the committee voted to appoint Matthew J. Coleman, a teacher in Framingham, director of the K-12 math program. 

The committee also heard an update about the rebuilding of the Thompson School. Dated May 4, the notice says that construction and site improvements began as planned. In the past week, the town's contractor, G & R Construction, was onsite securing and setting up the location for the construction phase.

Work hours are to take place between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. during weekdays.

If warranted, additional work may be schedule on Saturdays or minor holidays at the discretion of Town of Arlington.

A police detail is to coordinate any parking restrictions. The public was asked to observe signs in the area.

The contractor superintendent will be onsite to address any questions. Contact Mike Stavaski with G & R Construction at 617-894-8512.

Major milestones of the project are to be available at arlingtonma.gov/dpwprojects (under Other Projects in town). Updates are to be posted quarterly.

The new school is planned to be completed and open in time for the fall 2013 school year.

This story was first published Wednesday, May 15, 2012.