The public school vacation that begins in a week might be coming at just the right time in Wellesley as angst is simmering over several issues in town.
*First, parents and students who support the performing arts within the Wellesley Public School system expressed their concerns at the School Committee this past week about possible big cuts (“Out of $76K in instructional cuts, almost $36K is coming out of Performing Arts – pretty disproportional.”). That could include nixing an intended FY17 $19,500 increase to the performing arts curriculum budget (for equipment, repair, etc.). That does not include the base budget. There were also heartfelt pleas to bring Production Manager & Technical Director Brian McManimon up to full-time status, so that he gets paid for a lot of stuff he already does beyond his part-time work. (Wellesley Public School Superintendent David Lussier says: “In both cases I’m hoping we can find space in the following year’s budget to move forward as originally proposed.” These budget concerns come on top of those regarding the future of Wellesley’s elementary schools, including the possible shuttering of Hardy. (NOTE: We updated this section of the post on 2/11/16 to clarify the possible cuts to the proposed budget.)
*The 900 Worcester Street Committee, as we reported last month, did indeed vote to re-issue its request for proposals for a recreation complex on the former St. James the Great church site. The committee liked all three proposals it received but had reservations about financing, parking, etc. One upshot of this decision to reissue is that Corbelis, whose pitch for a facility dubbed The House was the most elaborate of the three (including skating rinks, pools, a track, a field), does not plan to resubmit a plan. Some see that as a big missed opportunity for Wellesley to receive a huge outside investment in the town. It will be a surprise if a new party submits a proposal.
*While Town Meeting last week gave its blessing to Wellesley moving ahead with its plan for a Town Manager, you can expect to hear more from an opposition group that includes former high profile town officials (selectmen, moderator, etc.) in the weeks to come. Opponents on key on what they see as a more centralized form of town government, one that they say could spook highly qualified people from volunteering on town boards and committees. These opponents will be urging voters not to approve the change during the March town election. You can anticipate a fresh lawn sign battle to erupt, however, as proponents say a change is needed in light of the town’s growth.