Published September 25, 2019
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD – The composition of the newly-created “Wakefield Memorial High School Working Group” began to take shape last night, as the School Committee officially appointed roughly half of the individuals who will serve on the 19-member committee.
The Working Group was created by the School Committee at their Aug. 27 meeting to develop community outreach and planning strategies, whether or not the high school is accepted into the MSBA funding program in the current round.
The condition of the Wakefield Memorial High School physical plant has been a concern for a number of years. For the last three years the town has sought acceptance into the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s (MSBA) program that provides funding assistance with new construction or renovation projects.
While those previous Statements of Interest (SOI) have not succeeded in getting WMHS into the program, School Superintendent Douglas Lyons has expressed optimism that a revised SOI, submitted last April, will fare better. An MSBA decision is expected by January of 2021 on the town’s latest Statement of Interest.
Last year, the high school SOI made it into the second round but did not survive the final cut.
If the high school is accepted into the MSBA program, the state agency would reimburse the town for approximately 50 percent of eligible costs of new construction or renovation.
At a community forum held last March in the wake of January’s news that the high school had not been accepted into last year’s funding round, a number of individuals strongly suggested that the community should be prepared with some kind of strategy regardless of whether the MSBA invites the town to move forward in the next round.
The Working Group was created to begin developing such a strategy.
At last night’s School Committee meeting, member Thomas Markham noted that the School Committee had set a deadline of Sept. 20 for various stakeholder organizations to name representatives to serve on the working group. He noted, however that some of those organizations have not had a chance to meet in the last few weeks to select a representative.
Markham proposed appointing the individuals whose names have been submitted thus far so that the Working Group can begin its work. As additional members are named by their respective groups and appointed by the School Committee, they can join the Working Group in their official capacity.
If a represented organization names a member, that individual could participate in the Working Groups open public meetings even before being officially appointed by the School Committee, Markham suggested.
Markham also noted that he had received separate requests from the Wakefield Education Association (WEA) Unit A and from the Finance Committee asking to add a second slot on the Working Group for WEA Unit A and for the FinCom.
The School Committee approved Markham’s motion to add those slots to the Working Group.
Markham then made a motion to appoint those whose names have been put forward so far. Those individuals are: Markham and Suzy Veilleux from the School Committee; Ann Santos and Jonathan Chines from the Town Council; School Superintendent Douglas Lyons; Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio; Anna Morrell from the WEA Unit A; Thomas Bankert from WEA Unit B; a member of WEA Unit C to be determined; Assistant Superintendent Kara Mauro; School Business Administrator Christine Bufagna; School Facilities Manager Bob Schiaroli; WMHS Principal Amy McLeod; DPW Director Joseph Conway; Becky Guiding and Peter McManama from the Finance Committee; and three at-large members from the community, Andrew Bray, Philip Renzi and Greg Liakos.
Representatives of the various PTO groups and the Wakefield Educational Foundation will be appointed once those organizations submit names to the School Committee.
It was stressed that the Working Group’s meetings will be open and the public is encouraged to attend and participate.