Waltham Schools Parent Info Center To Relocate; Councilors Annoyed
Waltham Schools' Parent Info Center will move to the old South junior High School.
The Waltham Public Schools' Parent Information Center will temporarily move to the former South junior High School on Moody Street, but City Councilors said they were annoyed with aspects of the move.
The City Council, at its Monday, Aug. 6 meeting, approved moving the PIC from the Henry J. Whittemore Elementary School to the old South school only for the coming school year.
The PIC is a central location in which parents can get answers to school-realted questions or seek school services.
The move is intended to free up two classrooms at the Whittemore school as the building's enrollment has recently increased, according to Waltham Public Schools Superintendent Susan Nicholson.
The Council also ordered the school department to formulate a plan for possibly moving the PIC on a permanent basis.
- City Councilor Robert Logan strongly objected to the move saying the South school is supposed to be operating as a cultural arts center and not as a school building. "Why don't we just turn the South back to the school department?" Logan said referring to the School Committee's previously handing control of the building to the City Council.
- City Councilor Edmund Tarallo, echoing similar worries expressed by Logan, said he was concerned that Nicholson had not brought the issue to the Council earlier in the year after the School Committee first asked to move the PIC in June. Raising the issue with the council earlier would have allowed the school department to move the PIC sooner instead of so close to the Aug. 29 start of the school year, Tarallo said.
- Nicholson responded saying she had been looking for other spaces that would not require council approval.
- Logan also criticized Nicholson for not having any plans or detailed information to justify moving the PIC to the South school. Nicholson took issue with Logan's words, but acknowledged she did not have enrollment figures or other info to detail the need to move the PIC.
- ”Councilor Logan, I came here trying to work collaboratively with the council to help the school department meet the needs of increased enrollment of a particular school. I am looking to have a very smooth opening of the high school. There is obviously a history here. You are very angry talking about the Fitch school. I understand that, but I am here very respectfully trying to get some assistance and colloboration….I am feeling attacked," Nicholson told Logan.
- Logan retorted: "It comes with the territory... So, I'm sorry you feel attacked, but that’s our job, to call people to account, the employees of the city, when we are not getting what we want.”
- After a year, Nicholson said the district would also face moving the PIC again.
LONG-TERM PLANS FOR MOVING ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES
- Logan also expessed concerns that the School Committee had not discussed creating a plan to move the district's administrative offices out of Waltham High School on a permanent basis, despite first raising the issue 14 years ago and again a year ago. "Here we are, there is still no plan,” Logan told Nicholson.
- Nicholson acknowledged the she had not discussed the issue with the School Committee.
- City Councilor Joe Vizard said he supported moving the PIC to the South building. "I've never been convinced that is something we need," Vizard said of whether the district needs a seperate building for its central administration.
- City Councilor Thomas Curtin, after hearing Logan's request for the school department to create a plan for the PIC's permanent home and new administartive offices, said he took issue with having the Council meld the issues together.