The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Excuse me while I rearrange a few things and blow the dust off this blog. It has been awhile since I have felt compelled to blog about all things Waltham. In the time since I last blogged, I ran for School Committee again, and lost. BUT! I only lost by 88 votes. Thank you to all of my supporters. Without you it wouldn't have been possible to get that close. I won 40% of the votes of those who cast votes for SC. I am so grateful for all of  you.

The election saw a few successes but several losses that were very frustrating. We had a lot of new comers challenge the incumbents for seats on city council. It was so exciting to see so many new faces running for election in Waltham. We have had years when the incumbents had no challengers.  Despite the losses, I hope we continue to see people show an interest in public service and run for seats. I hope to see some of the same people, Consuelo Valdez, Christina Montgomery, John Saxe, Kelly Damm, Daniel Keleher and Clarence Richardson I'm looking at you guys, to keep trying. We all ran excellent races, and we made it clear that we have good ideas and the right intentions for Waltham.

Congratulations to Kristine Mackin who blew the doors off of Ward 7 and won that race. It will be exciting to see you sitting at the table next year.

Part of what was frustrating about this election is we were left with a lot of the same old same old. The same people who have been running this city forever, making all the decisions that have gotten us to this place that many in the city are dissatisfied with. We have over development issues, we have traffic and planning issues, we have a high school that needs to be built and many of the people reelected are the people who have gotten us in this mess. Not all of them to be sure. I count among the advocates for planning, conservation, and our students Councilors Darcy, McMenimen, Fowler, Randy LeBlanc and to a certain extent Mr. McLaughlin, but we need to talk about the Fernald Use Committee and get to the lack of movement and action there, which is 100% under his purview as chair of that committee. But that's a different topic for a different post.

Today we are here to talk about the high school project. I am bereft. The SC and SBC have been working for 2 years to create a plan and identify a site to build the new HS on and we are no closer to making that decision than we were a year ago. And part of the problem, I believe, is that people don't fully understand the need for a new building, and they do not understand the education plan that was designed for the new facility.

I had a conversation with a woman while standing at a polling place on election day that highlighted this. She was quite adamant that we cannot cannot cannot build the HS on the property known as the Chesterbrook woods. This, by the way, is only a point of conversation because Councilor Brasco put forward a resolution to consider it. It is under the care and control of the conservation committee, and owned by the city. It was formerly owned by the Stanton family, and had at one time been identified to be developed into single family homes. That plan failed in court because of a need to get a second access way that the neighbors would not sign on for. In the 20 years since then, it has become part of our Western Greenway project, and people use it for all sorts of activities, including but not limited to walking/hiking, cross country training, dog walking, nature walks led by the Adirondack Club. Her point was well taken. She went on to say she was of the opinion that the current HS just needed to be renovated and added onto. I responded that that particular approach didn't support the education plan. "That education plan is awful. It's horrible" she responded. We continued to discuss the education plan, but it became apparent to me that she did not understand the plan. She had obviously heard bits and pieces about it, possibly heard a very biased interpretation of it from someone who didn't support it for their own agenda. And I decided I needed to do some leg work to educate the community about it.

I plan on discussing the education plan over a series of posts, but I want to start here by giving you a link. This is a link to the WHS project site. Here you can find various videos and other information about the education plan and the project. I really really really encourage you to read and watch. Start with the first video on there, which was posted by Celeste and Christy of Waltham Citizens for Education. It is a great overview.

Next time I will break down some of the information about the plan itself and explain why I believe this is an extraordinary plan, and precisely what the students of Waltham need out of their educational experience here.

To close, I want to say to City Council as a whole that I am sad. I said I was bereft and I mean it. You have collectively stood in the way of the SC and SBC being able to move forward with this project, to the detriment of our students. You have your own agendas, including protecting your allegiances with developers and who knows whom else. You have not acted in the best interest of the city and it's students. Again, I see some very clear exceptions: George Darcy, Kathleen McMenimen, Bill Fowler, Randy LeBlanc and John McLaughlin. You have regularly voted in support of the SC and SBC and our students. But the CC has made choices that directly block the ability of the city to build the HS that our students deserve, in a manner which is not disruptive to current students, to support the education plan that our students deserve. A plan that will educate them and give them the skills they need to move forward successfully either to college or to a career in a way that colleges and employers are looking for today. Our educators are doing a great job right now, but they could do SO MUCH MORE with a building and plan that gives them the freedom and resources to soar.

Next time we will begin looking at the education plan.


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