RECAP: Redevelopment Authority and School Committee

The key highlights of the recent Redevelopment Authority and School Committee meetings.

RECAP: Redevelopment Authority and School Committee
The sign for the new Raymond E. Shaw Elementary School, as part of a School Committee slideshow. Image courtesy Millbury Public Access.

The Redevelopment Authority met at Town Hall on September 14, 2022 at approximately 7:00pm; present were Len Mort, Alicia Miller, Jeremy Weldon, Jan Hanratty, and Harold Proodian. Of note:

  • Treasurer Harold Proodian said there was little change for finances. Money for a storage container is part of the update.
  • Discussion on the Resource Advisory Board was held, but no action as no interested parties came to the meeting.
  • More discussion for the storage container. The first bidder did not respond, the second bidder, Sully's Containers, delivered a damaged container. The vendor apologized and provided pictures of a replacement. Harold Proodian asked whether it was prudent to wait given the supply, and recommended a temporary shed, as "you could probably buy [the replacement container] for two grand" next year. Chairman Len Mort noted the Authority could "hold off for a better one, but you don't know what the next one's gonna be." Jan Hanratty was concerned about the winter months coming up. Jeremy Weldon suggested asking for a discount given the damage; Mort said he would ask.
  • Fundraiser of signed Michael Wackell prints displaying the Millbury Center clock are still available as a fundraiser for the Authority.
  • Food Truck Festival is scheduled for May. There was discussion about having tables at the Festival. The plan is still to hold it at the High School, but he has to put in an application. Jay Hanratty suggested reaching out to the State Police Barracks near the 146/I-90 interchange. Jeremy Weldon recommended the Shoppes, but Jay Hanratty questioned whether there would be issues with the restaurants.
  • Proodian discussed using some of the bricks saved from the old Shaw School that Mort will clean and inscribe as a fundraiser.

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:00pm, and the next meeting is scheduled for October 12, 2022. The meeting can be viewed at Millbury Public Access.

The Millbury School Committee met at the High School on September 14, 2022 at 7:00pm. Jen Nietupski, Jessica Bristol, Christopher Wilbur, and Julia Lagerholm were present. Of note:

  • Superintendent Greg Myers shared an update on the first few days of school. Myers says that "this has been one of the most positive openings in a while," acknowledging the impact of the pandemic and the excitement of a new Shaw School. The unofficial enrollment of the schools was not disclosed verbally in the meeting; an official number comes from DESE (Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) in October that measures Chapter 70. Grade 1 is up to over 140 students, and a little higher than normal. Grade 2 is also looking higher with that in mind.

    Chairman Jen Nietupski noted the sharp declines in participation for grades 4 and 6, and a sharp increase in pre-K due to the additional class. Kate Ryan, Director of Pupil Services, said that there were some openings in pre-K half-day programs, but our full-day programs are full. The long-term plan is to get away from having half-day programs.
  • Richard Bedard gave an update on faciltiies.  No issues at Elmwood Street or the High School to note. The heavy rains did expose some leaks in some facilities, including a leak at the new Shaw. Fontaine, the contractor, is on top of the Shaw leak. Myers noted that it was not a waterproofing failure, but one of the flashing. "The roof itself is fine, brand new," it was just the lip of the flashing that was the problem. Julia Lagerholm asked about the warranty, and Bedard said it was two years for the construction and 10 years for the roof itself through the manufacturer.

    Bedard also noted that transportation went well on the first week. As two of the three schools have a different bus dropoff location, there was some initial confusion mitigated by the School Resource Officer and other members of the Millbury Police Department. Bedard also noted that, with Grade 3 at Shaw now, there are some changes to the students on the buses to handle, but "overall, it's been great."
  • Bedard also provided a financial update. The high school fitness room renovations, funded via ARPA funds, had three bids from general contractors, and the low bid at $244,000 from Tower Construction of Cranston, RI. Other bidders were APC Development Group of Hanover, MA, at $258,354 and Maron Construction of Providence, RI, at $276,050. All three firms are DCAMM- () certified. Bedard asked the Committee to approve the bid for Tower Construction, Christopher Wilbur moved and Julia Lagerholm seconded, and the bid was approved 4-0.
  • Ray's True Value donated an unsolicited $250 to the Music and Performing Arts Program; the School Committee officially accepted the donation in a unanimous vote.
  • Myers gave some updates on the new Shaw School. There will be an "official" ribbon cutting in October with state representation. He noted that the "punch list" had approximately 200 items on it, and Fontaine has reduced it to under 30. "They are working to make a perfect building for us," he said.

    Solar panel installation is coming. It will be done outside of school hours using a crane.

    Landscaping is ongoing. They will be using a hydroseed by next week. The goal is to have the playing field completed before the winter. They have contingency plans in the event the field needs to be delayed into the spring.

    Myers also provided a slideshow of the new Shaw opening with some details. He says the school is "so well designed for kids to explore and learn and collaborate in ways that the old Shaw School never let us do."
  • The Committee discussed how to do the Superintendent evaluation. The Committee went to a evaluation training and received some tips. Lagerholm recommended sitting with Myers to understand the process due to the required DESE form being "a maze." The Committee unanimously appointed Lagerholm as the "compiler" for the evaluations.
  • Nietupski talked about goals for the School Committee. She noted that a lunch-and-learn she attended expressed that roughly half of the state committees have goals, and half do not. The idea for goals should ultimately be about supporting the district and "enable the district to do its job," which is to teach children. The ideas discussed will be in the packet for the next meeting.
  • Christopher Wilbur raised the idea of starting high school later. The pandemic tabled the idea, but he would like to see the Committee revisit it. Myers noted that there are a handful of concerns, but the major one has traditionally been about sunlight and lighted fields; this is no longer a problem. He also noted that many families rely on older children to watch younger ones at home, but after school programs can help mitigate that.

The School Committee adjourned at approximately 7:40pm. The next meetingh will be September 28th at the high school. The meeting can be viewed at Millbury Cable Access.