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Schools

West suburban schools fare well on Science MCAS

Posted September 24, 2008 09:29 AM

Four high schools in Boston's western suburbs had a 100 percent pass rate for 10th graders who took the MCAS science exam, according to statistics released today by the state Department of Education.

Passing one of the four MCAS science tests -- biology, physics, chemistry, or engineering -- is now a requirement for graduation in Massachusetts. The Globe reported last week that the percentage of sophomores who passed the MCAS exam on the first try this year declined for the first time because thousands of students failed the science section.

In general, however, schools in the Globe West area appeared to fare well in science. At Dover-Sherborn, Hopkinton, Maynard, and Medfield high schools, 100 percent of the 10th graders who took the test achieved passing scores of "advanced," "proficient," or "needs improvement."

Holliston, Millis, Needham, Newton South, Wayland, Westborough and Weston high schools had 99 percent of their students who took the tests achieve one of the three passing scores. Newton North, Medway, Nashoba Regional, Algonquin Regional, and Shrewsbury high schools each had 98 percent of their 10th graders achieve passing scores.

The schools in the Globe West area with the highest failure rates were the Joseph P. Keefe Technical High School in Framingham, with 80 percent of students who took the test achieving passing scores, and Waltham High School, with 84 percent.

The statewide pass rate for 10th graders was 88 percent.

-- Ralph Ranalli

A run for the money

Posted August 5, 2007 10:13 AM

natickhs.JPG
School Facility Service Manager Ron Clements,right, tours Natick High school with consultants and a review team from the Massachusetts School Building Authority
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)

REGION

Nearly 1,000 fifth- and sixth-graders will bound into the halls of Shrewsbury's Sherwood Middle School in the fall, a school built in 1964 for 700 pupils.

District officials expanded the school's capacity years ago by adding 10 portable buildings, so it can "theoretically" handle 950 students, said Superintendent Anthony J. Bent. But first-year principal Jane Lizotte, who attended the school as a teenager, is tasked with finding space for 992.

"We can't turn any of them away," she said.

Shrewsbury officials are hoping the state's new method for funding school construction projects will bring some relief. But they aren't the only ones, staff writer John C. Drake reports in today's Globe West.

More than a dozen school districts in Boston's western suburbs have submitted so-called statements of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority under a new system that is meant to be tougher on school systems. They join hundreds statewide who will be competing for up to $500 million in school-construction cash in the coming school year.

"The first year is going to be challenging, because we'll be setting precedents," said state Treasurer Timothy Cahill, who oversees the School Building Authority. "But I'm confident we'll have a process that people will accept."

Read more about the challenges local school district's face getting state funding in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Sherborn school on schedule

Posted July 30, 2007 12:14 PM

SHERBORN

Renovations to the Pine Hill Elementary School will likely be mostly completed by August 13, Dover-Sherborn Superintendent Perry Davis said. Voters approved a $1.7 million debt-exclusion override to fund the project.

Workers are installing new heating and ventilation equipment, new windows in some classrooms, and a new floor and carpeting in the school's media center.

Teachers report back to school on August 28, and Perry said they will have plenty of time to set up their classrooms if the construction work remains on schedule.

-- Calvin Hennick

Norfolk to say 'so long' to King Philip Schools?

Posted July 25, 2007 02:30 PM

NORFOLK

The Norfolk School Committee is looking into the possibility of the town opting out of the King Philip Regional School District.

School Committee Chairwoman Kim Williams said she is not dissatisfied with the King Philip schools, which also educate students from Plainville and Wrentham, but she wants to "get better educated about what our options are." The school committee will pay a consultant $2,500 to put on a workshop about the town's options.

However, Williams said, leaving district may be "the least viable option" because Norfolk taxpayers are still helping to pay for major building projects for the regional schools.

-- Calvin Hennick

Line Change in Dover-Sherborn

Posted June 23, 2007 07:11 AM

DOVER-SHERBORN

The Dover-Sherborn High School will for the first time this fall have an official varsity girls hockey team. For several years the team has been operating as a club at the school, according to Shelley Poulsen, chairwoman of the regional school committee.

The committee approved officially changing it into a varsity sport at a recent meeting, based on a high level of interest in the program. The only concern is that the team needs to secure more practice time at a local ice rink, Poulsen said.

-—Kyle Alspach

Hoffman doing superintendent shuffle?

Posted June 22, 2007 09:05 AM

ASHLAND

Superintendent Richard Hoffmann will interview for the superintendent position in the Hudson Public Schools on June 25.

Hoffmann, who has served as superintendent in Ashland since 2000, is one of two finalists for the position.

The other finalist is Nina Schlikin, superintendent of Maine's Union 29 District, who is tentatively scheduled to interview on June 29. School Committee members said they haven't set a date yet for making a final decision on which candidate to hire.

-— Kyle Alspach

He should take lessons from Daisuke

Posted June 20, 2007 09:06 AM

DOVER-SHERBORN

A Dover-Sherborn High School teacher has been chosen to spend two weeks studying in Japan this summer by the Toyota carmaker.

Joshua Bridger, a physics and mathematics teacher, was selected from a national pool to take part in the Toyota International Teacher Program. As part of the program, Bridger will travel around the country and take part in discussions with historians, educators and other leaders in Japan.

Bridger was one of 40 teachers chosen to participate in the Japan program this summer.

— Kyle Alspach

Local schools go green

Posted June 13, 2007 02:57 PM

REGION

Several local schools won 'Green Team' awards from the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs following a program to reduce pollution and protect the environment.

The Globe West area schools honored were:

  • Berlin Middle School in Berlin
  • Fowler School in Maynard
  • Marion E. Zeh School in Northborough
  • Melican Middle School in Northborough
  • Beatrice H. Wood School in Plainville
  • James Fitzgerald Elementary School in Waltham
  • Hemenway School in Framingham
  • Mary E. Stapleton School in Framingham

Schools that won awards received recycling equipment to make their individual programs more effective.

-- Adam Sell

Needham leads the pack

Posted June 8, 2007 10:50 AM

NEEDHAM

Massachusetts Board of Education Chairman Christopher R. Anderson is considering the Needham Science Center as a model for school districts across the state, according to Needham Superintendent Daniel E. Gutekanst.

Anderson was scheduled on Tuesday to tour the mini-museum housed at the Newman elementary and talk with officials from 9 a.m. to noon. The Science Center contains a menagerie of 80 animals, a display room of exhibits, and a library of classroom activity kits. The school district almost shuttered the Science Center’s doors after a $1.48 million override failed in April 2006.

Fundraisers won the Science Center a yearlong reprieve; Gutekanst put the museum back into the budget after cutting at least one staff member. Anderson also serves as the president of Massachusetts High Technology Council, having been a council member since 1984.

Former Governor Mitt Romney appointed him in 2006 to head the state board of education.

– Lauren K. Meade

How should Wellesley High be fixed?

Posted June 4, 2007 09:42 AM

WELLESLEY

Two meetings are scheduled this week to determine how best to renovate Wellesley High School, one meeting for parents, the other for the community at large.

The first meeting Wednesday, June 6, is with the Parent Teacher Organizations and on Thursday, June 7, anyone from the public is invited to express their views.

The parent-oriented meeting will be held at the Wellesley Middle School at 9 a.m.; the community meeting will take place in the library of the Wellesley High School at 7:30 p.m. The Thursday meeting will include another review of the options being considered.

-- Lisa Keen

Controversial raise prompts proposal for wider input in Wellesley

Posted June 1, 2007 07:13 AM

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Superintendent of Schools Matthew King
(Globe staff photo by Matthew J. Lee)

WELLESLEY

Still trying to quell voter anger over last year’s 8.5 percent raise for Superintendent of Schools Matthew King, the School Committee is slated to discuss a proposal to involve people outside the committee in decisions on raises and bonuses for administrators.

King's raise -- which was approved by the committee after voters agreed to a tax increase for what town officials said was a bare bones budget -- prompted scores of complaints. The new proposal, outlined by Committee Chairman Michael Young last week, would seek feedback on the superintendent’s performance from parents, principals, selectmen, and other town officials.

“It can’t just be what the five of us think,” said Young, referring to the committee. “We have to reach out.”

Discussion on the proposal will take place during the School Committee’s last regular meeting for the year on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Wellesley High School library.

-- Lisa Keen

Superintendent search deadline extended in Hudson

Posted May 31, 2007 11:52 AM

HUDSON

A screening committee evaluating applications for the next superintendent of schools has been given until June 12 to decide whether to make recommendations to the School Committee or halt the search and hire an interim leader.

The 11-member screening committee has been asked to assess 24 applications and to decide whether any of those candidates would be a worthy permanent superintendent or, if not, to hire an interim superintendent and resume the search next year with professional help, officials said.

The School Committee recently voted to extend the screening committee's review period until the next school Committee meeting, said Amy Baker, a member of the school and screening committees. The original deadline was this week.

Superintendent Sheldon Berman will leave the district on July 1 to head the Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Weston teachers reach accord

Posted May 30, 2007 11:44 AM

WESTON

The Weston School Committee and the union representing the town's teachers have reached a unanimous agreement on a three-year contract.

Year one of the contract, which begins Sept. 1, gives teachers a 3 percent raise, which goes up to 3.25 percent for the second and third years.

The Weston Education Association agreed to increase their members' contribution to their health insurance plans from 10 percent of the premium to 20 percent.

"We are pleased with what we have achieved and for the respectful process that enabled us to get to this result, " said chairman Ed Heller, according to a School Committee news release.

The last round of contract negotiations in 2004 was more contentious after talks stalled over health insurance issues, with teachers picketing and residents taking sides.

-- Stephanie V. Siek

Maynard High accreditation safe, superintendent says

Posted May 30, 2007 08:41 AM

maynardsuper.JPG
Superintendent Mark Masterson (at right)
(Globe staff photo by Dina Rudick)

MAYNARD

Superintendent Mark Masterson said Maynard High School's accreditation status should be safe after Town Meeting approved $276,000 in repairs and upgrades to the dilapidated building.

Last year, Maynard High was placed on probation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, in large part due to the condition of its facilities. NEASC, a private nonprofit group, has asked for regular progress reports from the town as major milestones are reached.

"I will be writing a letter [to NEASC] letting them know the community's response to the problems," said Masterson. "We are very hopeful moving forward."

Maynard High requires major renovations, possibly a new school entirely, to be removed from probation, school officials say.

-– Melissa Beecher

Newsweek’s “Best High Schools” list includes six area schools

Posted May 24, 2007 06:46 AM

NeedhamHigh.JPG
Needham High's new rallying cry: "We're No. 1,028!"
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)

DOVER/SHERBORN/WELLESLEY/WESTON/
NEWTON/WAYLAND/NEEDHAM

Six schools in Globe West have made Newsweek’s newly released 2007 “America’s Best High Schools” list, including Dover-Sherborn High School, which ranked second highest in the state.

Of the over 1200 public schools on the list, Dover-Sherborn ranked 127th, Weston High School 186th, Wellesley High School 487th, Wayland High School 686th, Newton South High School 714th, and Needham High School 1028th. The state’s highest ranking school was Boston Latin School, which at 76th was the only Massachusetts school to make the top 100.

Rankings are based on only one factor: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2006 divided by the number of graduating seniors. Newsweek reports that while some critics consider the criteria too narrow, research studies have shown that passing scores on AP exams are a predictor of college success.

Scores from 27,000 public schools were reviewed, meaning schools included on the list are in the top 5% of public schools nationally. Three schools fell off the list from last year: Hopkinton High School, Newton North High School, and Holliston High School.

-- Denise Taylor

High school sports body to examine Indian team names

Posted February 7, 2007 04:47 PM

marauders_001.JPG

The Dedham girls' basketball team warms up under the team logo, a gigantic orange caricature of a Native American
(Globe Staff Photo by Essdras Suarez)

REGION

Should Massachusetts high school teams have Indian-themed names and logos?

Take Natick's "Redmen" teams. Or the Dedham teams, which are called the "Marauders" and play in a gym adorned with a gigantic cartoon of a howling Indian brave.

Dozens of high school teams in the state still have such names and logos.

Some activists say it's offensive and they're calling for change. But many school and community officials where the names and images have been in use for decades say they are honoring both school tradition and the state's Native American heritage by continuing their use.

The sportsmanship committee of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, the ruling body of high school sports, will discuss tomorrow what action, if any, the MIAA should take to compel schools to change their team names, much as the NCAA did when it restricted playoff appearances by colleges with such names.

While individuals in many Massachusetts communities where schools have native-American-themed names have complained before, the most recent push was prompted by an effort at Natick High School to stop using the Redmen team name. The School Committee plans to make a decision on that issue after a public hearing in March.

Read more about the ontroversy in Natick and in communities throughout the state in Thursday's Globe West and Globe South.

--John C. Drake

A wish list in Berlin

Posted January 14, 2007 03:33 PM

BERLIN

A sound system, upgraded door locks, and air conditioning.

A teenager's Christmas list? The stuff I paid extra for in my new Toyota? Nope.

Those are all items on a wish list Berlin Memorial School Principal Richard Borowiec has submitted to the School Committee.

The $32,000 capital plan includes: replacing classroom doors that do not lock from the inside, as well as several faulty exterior doors; repairing and shortening the bleachers in the gym; installing a drainage system and landscaping in the playground area; adding an air conditioner to the communication room; and five amplification systems, four for classrooms and one portable unit.

The board will decide how much of the wish list to fund in their fiscal 2008 budget, Borowiec said. Last year the board funded more than $40,000 in improvements.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Newton superintendent makes sweeping recommendations to fight overcrowing

Posted November 28, 2006 09:20 AM

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Newton Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey M. Young
(Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)

NEWTON

Newton Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Young last night released a sweeping set of recommendations to deal with the looming elementary school overcrowding crisis, including spending $1.2 million to buy eight modular classrooms for five overcrowded schools and reclaiming the former Carr School in Newtonville as the city's 16th elementary school.

"These schools are packed," Young said of the five schools that would receive modular classrooms. "There is no other flexibility there."

Young also recommended reclaiming the dedicated space given to some private programs based at the elementary schools, including Ploughshares, which runs preschool and after-school programs at the Lincoln-Eliot and Franklin schools. Other recommended measures included closing some school-choice zones to relieve pressure on the worst-crowded schools, including Horace Mann and Bowen.

Young also recommended that a special task force be appointed to study options at Bowen, which he described as the school facing the greatest enrollment pressure in the coming years.

Young said his recommendations were designed to avoid redistricting as much as possible and that younger siblings of current students would be grandfathered into slots at the same school.

The Carr currently houses the Newton Cultural Center and would need significant renovations to be brought up to current school building codes. Some school committee members last night also suggested that the Education Center on Walnut Street, which is itself a former school, also be considered for future conversion, with the school system's administrative offices moving to office space somewhere else in the city.

The measures, Young said, are designed to be a two-year stopgap while a comprehensive study of school space needs is conducted. Enrollment projections unveiled at last night's school committee meeting predict that the city's elementary school population will grow by 25 percent over the next 10 years.

To see Young's complete recommendations, click here.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Meeting of the (selectmen's) minds

Posted November 27, 2006 09:54 AM

BERLIN/BOYLSTON

Selectmen from the towns of Boylston and Berlin will meet tonight in Berlin to discuss how to raise state money and divide the cost of renovating Tahanto Regional Middle and High School.

Critics say the school has a leaking roof, an inadequate library, antiquated science labs, and lacks expansion room for important programs like special education. The regional school district recently sent a letter of interest to the state School Building Authority, outlining their desire to replace or renovate the 43-year-old facility.

The two boards will meet at 7:30 p.m. at the town offices on Linden Street in Berlin to talk about the best way to break down the cost of a renovation or addition, if the plan it is approved by the state. The cost of the project has yet to be determined.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

"Bamboo Grove" controversy continues

Posted November 22, 2006 01:22 PM

DOVER/SHERBORN

Globe West continues to receive passionate reader responses to two articles (Nov. 12 and Nov. 19) about the controversial book “So Far From the Bamboo Grove,” a memoir about a Japanese family escaping from Korea after World War II.

The Dover-Sherborn Regional School Committee is mulling whether to remove the book from the 6th grade curriculum after complaints that it's too violent for students of that age and it's biased against Koreans.

The book, which has little to say about the Japanese occupation of Korea that preceded the story, was reviewed after more than a dozen parents complained about it.

Kecia Gifford, the parent of a Sherborn 5th-grader, wrote in to say she was “disturbed” by passages she read in the book and felt 6th grade was too young given the content, which includes multiple references to rape. But she also pointed out that the book would not be banned from the school, it would remain in the library.

Katie Berger, an 8th-grader in Medfield, wrote: “Are we the students now not allowed to learn about the Civil Rights Movement, or the Third Reich, or U.S. slavery because they are racist topics? The only way people learn not to repeat history's mistakes is to learn about them.”

Let us know your opinion by posting on the Globe West message board.

-– Lisa Kocian

Author who sparked controversy to appear in Franklin tonight

Posted November 15, 2006 03:05 PM

FRANKLIN

Franklin's Sullivan Middle School will host controversial author Yoko Kawashima Watkins tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the school library.

Residents are invited to hear Watkins speak about her book, "So Far From the Bamboo Grove," a popular middle school text about a young girl's experiences when her family flees Japan for Korea after World War II.

Although the book has been used in many local schools, a recent Globe West article said that Dover-Sherborn Middle School officials are considering removing it from the curriculum due to explicit content. According to Lisa Kocian's story, Dover-Sherborn parents are concerned that the book deals with issues like rape, which they say sixth-grade students are not prepared to consider.

The Dover-Sherborn School Committee is mulling a subcommittee's recommendation to stop assigning the book as required reading but leave it in the school library for students to check out on their own.

Sullivan Middle School is located at 500 Lincoln Street.

-- Alison O'Leary Murray

Popular but controversial book continues to stir emotions

Posted November 15, 2006 12:08 PM

SCHOOLS

Some people have been inspired to write Globe West after a Nov. 12 article about the debate in Dover-Sherborn over the award-winning book “So Far From the Bamboo Grove.”

After some parents complained the book was racist and too graphic for 6th graders, a committee of mostly administrators and teachers voted to recommend removing the book from the 6th grade curriculum. The School Committee, which has the final say, is mulling what to do.

The book is told through the eyes of an 11-year-old as she tries to escape with her family from Korea to Japan after WWII. Her family is being pursued because her father was a Japanese government offical and Koreans are lashing out after Japanese occupation of their country for more than three decades.

Alex Hudson, now 15, wrote in about his experience reading the book as a 6th grader at Dover-Sherborn. “I did not think once, ‘Oh, these Koreans are wicked for doing this,’ but rather, ‘Oh, this poor girl!’ he wrote. “It gave me and many of my peers a view not just on the adverse effects of this war on Yoko Kawashima Watkins, but also the effects of any war on any single person or family.”

Wellesley parent Larry Juckett wrote in about his concerns from a decade ago when his child was reading the book as a 6th grader. “I found the references to a baby being bathed in urine and a dead baby being ripped from a mother's arms and thrown from the box car on which they were being transported very disturbing,” he wrote. “... I wasn't trying to have books burned, but perhaps not all 12-year-olds need to learn this and maybe the book could be ‘saved’ until they are in high school.”

What do you think about this controversy? Voice your opinion on the Globe West message boards.--Lisa Kocian

Happy holidays -- a year late

Posted November 13, 2006 09:19 AM

NORTHBOROUGH/SOUTHBOROUGH

The $60.8 million renovation and addition of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough should finally be complete – more than a year overdue – by the times students leave for the winter holiday, school officials say.

Three sections of the school still undergoing construction will be ready and available for students and staff once they return from break, Superintendent Rosemary Joseph said. Those areas include the administrative wing (including with the principal’s office and guidance area), the auditorium, the old gym and the band room.

The project was stalled in December 2005 when the Algonquin Building Committee fired Eastern Contractors Inc. of Framingham for failing to meet the May 2005 deadline.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Book ban debated in Dover-Sherborn schools

Posted November 11, 2006 02:42 PM

DOVER/SHERBORN

sofar.jpg

(HarperCollins book cover by Leo and Diane Dillon)

When does responsible education turn into censorship?

That’s the question the Dover-Sherborn Regional School Committee will be grappling with for at least the next few weeks as members decide whether or not to ban a popular but controversial book from the 6th grade curriculum.

After 13 parents complained that “So Far From the Bamboo Grove” is racist and sexually explicit, a book review committee, made up mostly of teachers and administrators, unanimously voted to recommend banning the book from the classroom. The School Committee will now have the final say.

The book, by Massachusetts author Yoko Kawashima Watkins, is a fictionalized autobiography told from the perspective of an 11-year-old Japanese girl. The girl and her family have to flee northern Korea at the end of World War II, a perilous journey because of the Koreans' animosity toward the Japanese, who had occupied their country for 35 years.

At a school committee meeting last week, several parents and teachers praised the book and the annual visit from the anti-war author, and a couple of parents explained why they feel the book is inappropriate for 6th graders.

Read more of the story in tomorrow's Globe West.

-- Lisa Kocian

Newton North referendum moves forward

Posted October 17, 2006 09:16 AM

NEWTON

The voters will have their say.

A referendum on the controversial site plan for a new Newton North High School will go to a ballot after the Board of Aldermen voted 16 to 8 last night against rescinding their earlier vote to approve it.

A special election on the site plan could come by Jan. 23.

What it all means, however, is far from clear, city officials said. City Solicitor Daniel Funk, for example, said that even if voters give a thumbs down to the site plan, the aldermen could then meet and simply approve exactly the same drawing again.

Ward 2 Alderman Stephen Linsky questioned whether the Law Department’s interpretation was correct.

“I’m not so sure I agree with they conclusions they came up with,” said Linsky, who is an attorney.

Supporters of the original site plan last night pledged to market its merits during the three months leading up to the election. They argued that pushing for a positive vote at the polls was the quickest way to get the project back on track.

“I will work as hard as humanly possible to convince the citizens we have made the right decision in their behalf,” said Sydra Schnipper, alderman at large from Ward 7.

Linsky and other board members also said it would be difficult to know how to read the tea leaves of the election, even after the results are in. Voters could say no for any number of reasons, they said, including the overall cost of the project, estimated at from $140 million to $165 million.

Paul Coletti, alderman at large from Ward 5, predicted that the ballot question on the site plan could be followed by another specifically referendum addressing the price tag and what he sees as the mayor’s faulty plan to pay for it. Mayor David B. Cohen has called for a financing plan that would use revenue from new growth, instead of a tax override or debt exclusion.

“Wait until you see the delay that’s going to happen in the future,” Coletti said.

A firm date for the election has not yet been set.

-- Connie Paige

Have an opinion on the Newton North project? Let your neighbors hear it in the Globe West Message Boards.

A high 5 for these matchups

Posted October 6, 2006 12:50 PM

SPORTS/REGION

A chill is in the air, the hot chocolate and lattes will be flowing, the leaves are starting to turn, and Week 5 of the high school football season is an absolute autumn treat.

Dual County League unbeatens Wayland and Lincoln-Sudbury clash in Sudbury tonight. In Milford, undefeated Marlborough and host Milford (unbeaten in IA) lock horns. Here's a look at five games to watch this weekend:

Lincoln-Sudbury at Wayland (7 p.m. Friday): Defending the run will be the story here. L-S junior Mark Hogan is coming off a school-record 313-yard, 4-touchdown performance. Wayland is averaging 34.5 points per game behind the ground work of QB Ben Sherry and tailback Tony Torres.

Marlborough at Milford (7 p.m. Friday): Get there early and expect to stay until the final horn sounds in this CMass 1A clash. Milford is averaging 30 points per game and Marlborough is at 26.

Brookline at Natick (7 p.m. Friday):
The Redmen (4-0) shoot for their 20th straight win.

Medfield at Bellingham (7 p.m. Friday):
Will Medfield take the Fast (Mike) Lane through Bellingham and remain unbeaten in the Tri-Valley League?

Framingham at Wellesley (10 a.m. Saturday): The host Raiders are just one game back in the Bay State Conference's Herget race, but Framingham is showing plenty of resiliency this fall.

-- Craig Larson

Critics of Newton North High plan want more citywide input

Posted September 28, 2006 03:06 PM

NEWTON

NNHS Site Plan0001.jpg

Opponents of the current site plan for a new Newton North High School want a citywide vote to determine what the building should look like, how much it should cost, and how to pay for it.

The opponents voiced their view this week after apparently collecting enough signatures from voters to force aldermen to reconsider their approval of the plan, which outlines how the new buildings and fields would be placed on the existing site.

If the aldermen do not reconsider their vote, a citywide referendum would then be held where citizens could vote to overturn or endorse the site plan. But opponents of the current $140 million to $165 million plan say they want residents to be able to express their desires in more detail, rather than simply voting "yes" or "no" on the current site plan.

“Before the city embarks on the most expensive project we’ve ever undertaken, I think we should vote about what we want,” said Laura Naylor of Citizens for a Better Newton North, which participated in the signature drive.

Whether the idea will fly is up to aldermen. Their vote on whether to reconsider their approval of the site plan could come as early as this Tuesday, board president Lisle Baker said.

Ward 6 Alderman-at-Large Kenneth Parker said he would back a referendum that allowed voters to state their preferences among several options. Parker said he does not believe a majority of his colleagues would support the idea, however.

“I’m not sure that’s going to get a lot of traction,” Parker said.

-- Connie Paige

Globe West scores high on the MCAS

Posted September 27, 2006 06:34 PM

REGION

Tenth grade MCAS scores released this morning offered good news across the state and -- especially in the western suburbs.

The wealthier communities in the Globe West circulation area have long posted scores that were among the highest in the state, and this year was no exception.

Dover-Sherborn, Wayland, Millis, Medfield and Weston, were in the top 10 in the state in both English and math, with 95 percent or more of students scoring the highest grades -- "proficient" or "advanced" -- in both subjects.

Click here to see how your school compares to other schools statewide.

-- Lisa Kocian

Adams Scholarships hype misleading?

Posted September 20, 2006 09:13 AM

WELLESLEY

With all the positive attention focused on the recent awarding of 16,000 John and Abigail Adams Scholarship tuition waivers, Wellesley's James Montague, the director of guidance at the Boston Latin School, is counseling caution.

All the hoopla, Montague writes in a letter to the editor, "is a bit misleading, since (the scholarship) covers such a small portion of the actual cost of attending a state college or university. For example, in 2006-07 at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Adams Scholarship winners will receive a tuition waiver of $1,714 but will still have to find a way to pay $7,881 in comprehensive fees (including a $5,679 curriculum fee), not to mention $6,989 for room and board."

What do you think? Sound off in the Globe West Message Boards.

scholarship.JPG
Joyce Wong, 17, center, reacts as she reads her letter at the O'Bryant School for Math and Science, after Gov. Mitt Romney announced that 16,169 high school students earned a John and Abigail Adams Scholarship. (Photo: Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff)

State: some schools aren't making enough progress

Posted September 12, 2006 05:59 PM

REGION

Almost three dozen schools in the Globe West coverage area will need improvement or corrective action due to sluggish MCAS scores, according to a preliminary list released by the state Department of Education today.

A spot on the list does not necessarily mean that scores are falling -– it means that either the school or a specific subgroup, such as low-income students or those with disabilities, is not progressing on schedule toward the goal of MCAS proficiency for all students by 2014, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

No schools in the western suburbs were marked for “restructuring,” which is the most serious action taken when a school has not made improvements for five or more years. Statewide 57 schools were identified for restructuring.

When a school has not met improvement targets for four consecutive years it is tagged for “corrective action,” which means the school must make “significant changes that could include staffing, curriculum, governance or instruction,” according to the DOE. After only two years of missed targets, a school is identified for "improvement," which means it is required to allow parents to send their child to a school elsewhere in the district if room is available.

Districts with at least one school that needs improvement because of the school’s performance overall include: Framingham (Brophy, Woodrow Wilson, Fuller Middle School), Marlborough (Intermediate Elementary), Milford (Middle East, Stacy), Waltham (Northeast Elementary, Plympton Elementary, Whittemore Elementary), and Watertown (Hosmer).

Districts with at least one school that needs improvement or corrective action because of a subgroup’s performance include: Ashland, Bellingham, Framingham, Hopkinton, King Philip, Marlborough, Medfield, Medway, Milford, Newton, Norfolk, Shrewsbury, Keefe Tech High School, Waltham, Watertown, and Wayland.

-- Lisa Kocian

Schools to get report cards

Posted September 10, 2006 09:05 AM

REGION

Wondering how good the schools are in your town? The MCAS scores are a key indicator. And the state on Tuesday will begin releasing a deluge of MCAS information.

The state Department of Education is tentatively scheduled to release Tuesday the list of schools that are “expected to be identified for improvement, corrective action or restructuring.”

The state level MCAS results will follow a few days later, sometime in mid-September, but no date has been announced yet.

Schools in the western suburbs traditionally do well on the tests, but the goals are being elevated every year. By 2014, the state wants all students able to score proficient or better on both the math and English language arts portions of the exams.

-– Lisa Kocian

Westward migration

Posted July 20, 2006 11:49 AM

FRAMINGHAM

The Newton South High School to Framingham High School connection is alive and well.

A year after hiring away Newton South principal Michael Welch to serve as Framingham High's principal a year ago, the Framingham schools have grabbed Newton South house master Mark Albright for a vice principal's position.

Welch said yesterday that Albright, 35, holds a master's degree in special education and was "clearly the most experienced candidate" in a field of almost 30.

Framingham High has four vice principals, one for each grade. Welch said Albright, a Framingham resident, will take charge of the incoming freshmen, who represent the Class of 2010.

-- Ralph Ranalli

The Garden City Bowl

Posted July 13, 2006 02:49 PM

NEWTON

Preliminary designs for the new Newton North High School call for a 2,000-seat, bowl-like football stadium depressed into the ground. Advocates like the design, saying the stadium can accommodate graduation ceremonies.

Foes, however, scoff, and are asking: "What happens when it rains?"

"A $5 million football stadium large enough to accommodate a once-a-year event -- and one that would have to be moved to Boston College in inclement weather -- is a luxury that Newton simply cannot afford," said resident Jane Frantz, who has been monitoring the planning for the new school.

-- Connie Paige

Potty language

Posted July 3, 2006 09:45 AM

NEWTON

Ralph Ranalli's Globe West story on Sunday, June 25 on the Newton Public Schools' plans to install easy-to-clean floors in all of the boys' bathrooms has sparked debate over the word "bathroom" and what it actually means. Does a bathroom have to have a tub or shower in it to be a true bathroom?

A column by Jan Freeman in Sunday's Globe sought to shed some light on the debate.

Ready, set, build

Posted June 16, 2006 04:12 PM

Katherine Craven, the executive director of the state's School Building Authority, stopped by our bureau in Framingham yesterday to shop new regulations that have been proposed for school building projects across the state.

The idea, she told us, is to make school construction more manageable and efficient. The state issued a moratorium on school projects three years ago, and the SBA has been working on the new regulations for the past couple of years.

Many school districts, including Milford, are already queueing up to take advantage of the new program, which is expected to go into effect over the next year.

So who's right?

Posted June 7, 2006 05:47 PM

Earlier this year, Maynard High School learned it was being put on probation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges because the building is outdated and inadequate.

But curiously, in a statewide survey recently completed by the state's School Building Authority, Maynard High School received a score of two, meaning that the school is in "generally good condition."

Read more about the state's ranking system in next week's Globe West. -- Emily Shartin

About globe west updates Welcome to Globe West Updates, the news blog of the Globe West regional section of The Boston Globe. Check in with us often to see updated items about Boston's western suburbs from our staff reporters and correspondents. Give us your reaction to our stories in the print editions or on the blog by using the form below. Get involved — with Globe West!
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