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Wellesley Town Meeting says let the town decide

Wellesley Town Meeting Monday night voted yes overwhelmingly to allow voters to decide whether a $3.345 million override should be approved to fund school programs and other town services.

Committee 21 gives a blow-by-blow account of  the “Gap List,” those budget items that will be cut should the override fail to be approved by the voters.  $2.8 million of those cuts would come out of the school budget including technology programming, professional staffing for classrooms, and school library assistants.


Town Meeting will go at it again tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Wellesley High School’s Babson Auditorium to take care of additional business, most notably to vote on whether the the Town will acquire 494 Washington St. and to vote on whether the Town will allow licenses to be granted for no more that 3 food stores and no more than 3 specialty stores for the sale of wine and beer. Here’s a scorecard on Town Meeting items decided upon so far.

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One Comment

  1. Ron Alexander
    Posted April 10, 2014 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    April 7, 2014

    Wellesley Public Schools Not Good Stewards of Our Tax Dollars

    The Wellesley Public Schools administration is showing an appalling disregard for our tax dollars. Instead of focusing on the true needs of the school system, they come up with programs and expenses of questionable value, and spend money in ways that should raise the ire of every tax paying resident of the town. Here are just a few examples:

    *$537,000+ annual expense for All Day Kindergarten program that education experts agree is of dubious value in a high income community like Wellesley.

    *$400,000+ on Apple desktops, laptops, and iPad tablets that will be obsolete in 6 months and will require ongoing maintenance and IT administration and replacement costs.

    *$517,000+ annual expense (exclusive of benefits) for secretaries in the Central Office (11 secretaries for 18 administrators!!!), along with %15­20 annual raises(!).

    *$5,859 in legal fees related to the Perry v. Alexander lawsuit.

    That last item, though small compared to the other items, should really raise eyebrows. The Superintendent has published a Gap List (“Threat List” would be more appropriate) of items that he would cut if the proposed override does not pass. Almost all of his cuts would be to teachers and services that are direct participants in the education of our children (“going into the schools”, in the Superintendent’s words); he has not proposed one single hour of reduction in his bloated Central Office staff. And yet the Superintendent apparently has no qualms about spending our precious tax dollars to encourage and support a private citizen to bring a frivolous lawsuit against a parent who was simply asking about the future of an educational program and the qualifications of the teachers in that program, and which was a flagrant abuse of the legal system meant to intimidate that parent into silence and get him to cease asking embarrassing questions.

    And all the costs of that bungled episode are not yet in. Due to the recent revelation that the reassignment of the orchestra teacher from the high school to the elementary schools was a “disciplinary action”, it is very likely that the teacher will be able to bring legal action against the school system for defamation of character and damage to her professional reputation, as well as violation of the Evaluation and Grievance and Arbitration Procedures that are detailed in the union contract, since the “disciplinary action” was not taken following these procedures. As such, it is possible that the Wellesley Public Schools may incur even more legal fees related to this situation. How high that bill will be has yet to be determined, but if damages are awarded it could potentially be quite high.

    The Wellesley POPS organization (Parents of Performing Students) recently made a grant of $4,228.00 to buy new chairs for the middle school band and orchestra programs. POPS has made many such generous donations to all aspects of the Wellesley Performing Arts Department over the years (the grant history may be viewed on the POPS website at http://www.wellesleypops.org). These gifts come from grassroots fundraising efforts by the members of the POPS organization, and everyone both inside and outside of POPS should be proud and admiring of their work. But when the school administration effectively cancels out their hard work by spending almost $6,000 dollars to sue a parent, and the school is now looking at wasting even more of our money due to their own misguided behavior, it is an insult and a slap in the face to those good people who are spending their own time and money to support the schools dollar by dollar. When all is said and done, this episode could easily cost the taxpayers of Wellesley over $100,000 (legal fees and damages). Wouldn’t that money have been better spent on the Performing Arts or on other educational purposes?

    All of this makes the requested override even more unpalatable. How can the school administration have the gall to spend money this way, and then come back to the town with a threat list in one hand and a tin cup in the other hand? There needs to be a serious re­examination of the spending habits and priorities of the Wellesley Public Schools before there should be a budget override of any amount, and that includes the original 1.75% budget increase, much less the whopping 6.2+% increase currently on the table. I know I’m going to get some flack about this from family and friends, and it pains me greatly to recommend a course that would negatively affect the students of the Wellesley Public Schools, but we cannot continue handing this school system a blank check with no transparency, accountability, or compunction about how the money is spent. The proposed budget is just too loaded down with pork and pet projects, and if the school administration is incapable of handling such a small issue appropriately, then how can they possibly be expected to handle the big issues? How much more is their mismanagement going to cost us?

    I therefore encourage all residents of the Town of Wellesley to oppose the override until we can get a few things straightened out around here. The sky will not fall, the schools will not close The School Committee should be given the opportunity to implement their Gap List, and suffer the outrage of the community at their rubber stamping ways. The Superintendent and his staff are constantly preaching to us the “Core Values” of “Academic Excellence”, “Commitment to Community”, and “Caring & Cooperative Relationships”, but when it comes to practicing those values himself, the Superintendent has consistently failed, and has not made “Good Choices”. We need to send a message loud and clear to the Superintendent that his wasteful spending and “Poor Choices” will not be tolerated. The Superintendent must learn to work with the community, not against it.

    Ron Alexander
    Mansfield Road

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