Those in favor of building modular classrooms at Wellesley Middle School to handle an expected enrollment increase are butting heads with some neighbors of the school dreading the prospect of increased traffic congestion and general ugliness of the surroundings. The topic (item #20) is up for discussion at Town Meeting, which continues this week (a special Town Meeting takes place Monday night regarding the purchase of 494 Washington St.)
The Wellesley Middle School Committee 21 rep, citing a report from the Middle School Building Committee, is in favor of getting modular classroom construction underway as soon as possible, arguing this will be a least disruptive and costly move. The SBC recommends modular construction (6 classrooms + 2 science labs) to be completed by Sept 2011, followed by some shuffling of current offices over the next few years to acc0modate changes. Committee 21, a school support group, is urging students’ parents to write to Town Meeting reps and Advisory Committee members in support of this move.
According to the Wellesley Middle School Committee 21 rep: “There has been significant pressure from Advisory Committee members who think that the internal conversion and a change to the educational program in the middle school should be done now and that the modular construction be put on hold until later years. Some of these educational program changes include elimination of the 6th grade House and 7th grade Cluster system and Language on a ‘cart’ – requiring Language teachers to move classrooms each block.”
Some WMS neighbors, as outlined in a letter to Advisory signed by Dona Bolding and Roger Hamilton, oppose such an approach. The letter reads in part:
“The forward momentum on this measure is stunning to those of us who live on upper Donizetti St. The suggestion to place modular buildings to house 8 classrooms including a science lab in a narrow parking lot on a narrow street is ill-conceived. No inquiry appears to have been made into the impact these constructions would have, not only our quality of life, enjoyment of our property, safety, and economic loss, but on the community as a whole.
Our houses sit directly across from the proposed placement and we are very familiar with the usage of the parking lot. The impact on the greater community will be huge. Reducing parking spaces will result in many years of unforeseen costs in addition to the costs of the buildings. It could be a community disaster of untold proportions.”
They write that such changes on top of recent changes, such as installation of a noisy HVAC system, is too much, and not something they could have envisioned when buying their houses.
They argue for such alternatives as keeping some 6th graders at elementary schools, converting Gym B into classrooms, staggering class times by grades, building a couple of attached classrooms and increasing class size a bit.