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The Big Fix for Nashoba’s Summer…Sept. 21, 2016

By Ann Needle
The Nashoba School Committee launched a new year at its Sept. 14 meeting by focusing on some outstanding issues from last spring. The primary focus was a review of the progress on fixing some major facilities problems that came up unexpectedly near the end of the 2015/2016 school year.

Looking at what was done to shore up Nashoba’s buildings over the summer, Superintendent Brooke Clenchy said that Stow schools did not need any major attention beyond routine maintenance, which included fixing the bumpy concrete walks outside of Center School. Most of the facilities fixes, estimated last spring to cost $68,000, are related to Bolton schools.

One of the biggest expenses will be replacing the almost 30-year-old steam boiler at Bolton’s Florence Sawyer School. Clenchy maintained, “We need to replace, it’s not even a question.” Nashoba’s new  Director of Facilities, Jeff Converse, agreed that, given the boiler’s recent history of leaks and other woes, it is not worth repairing. The quotes that have come in on a replacement range from $31,000 to $35,000, he said.

Bolton Town Administrator Donald Lowe agreed with Clenchy that, given his town owns the building, it could be responsible for paying the boiler cost. Bolton also could be paying to repair the Florence Sawyer School’s waste water system, so the spending for both items could be the subjects of a possible special Bolton Town Meeting in November, Lowe said.
Jeff Converse added that, while the bidding process has just begun for the waste water project, there is no rush, given the work can be done while school is in session.

Along with other urgent repairs made in Bolton’s schools in the past few months and Nashoba Regional High School—including its faulty fire pump system — Clenchy commented, “This was an enormous amount of work in a very truncated time period.”

Another major task Clenchy reported as accomplished over the summer was meeting with police, firefighters, and DPWs in Nashoba’s three towns to discuss emergency protocols and procedures — right down to the process for deciding whether to cancel school due to weather conditions. Clenchy said that these town officials told her “it was the first time they were ever called around the table to discuss this.”

Several Moves Launch the Year
Among a number of topics the SC addressed in preparing for the school year, Clenchy announced a change in the spring MCAS testing process,  but only for grades 4 and 8. She explained that the state will be piloting a computer-only version of MCAS. Clenchy said she already has put together an ad hoc group to help prepare students in those grades to comfortably navigate a computer format.

The 2017 spring MCAS also triggered some changes at the high school. Because of the dates the state just released for MCAS, the SC voted unanimously to change some of the late starts scheduled at NRHS. The late start slated for March 22 was moved to March 15, and the one on May 17 was cut. NRHS Principal Parry Graham explained that he could not find a date to move the May 17 late start to that would work. Late starts to the day are used by the high school staff for working together on academic programming.

SC Chair Lorraine Romasco of Bolton reminded Graham that, given the late start days are relatively new to NRHS, the SC would be asking for a report later in the year on how the extra time from those 11 days has helped the staff.

The SC also voted unanimously  to dissolve the NRHS Space Task Force, which finished its work this year of explaining and prioritizing what aspects of the overcrowded high school must be addressed. Romasco pointed out that the district must focus this year on the question of how to act on those recommendations. The Task Force’s report is at under School Committee; click on NRHS Task Force.

At the start of the SC meeting, Stow SC Rep. Nicole Odekirk paid tribute to the late Bill Clack, who passed away suddenly this summer. Odekirk called the 56-year-old Clack a driving force behind Center’s annual Lip Synch fundraiser, taking on such tasks taping the shows for several years, even after his daughter moved on from Center. Odekirk remarked, “He was a real friend to the schools.”