Wachusett Regional School District Committee

Special Meeting #214, Monday, February 12, 2001

8:00 p.m.

Media Center

Wachusett Regional High School


Committee Members present:

Duncan Leith, Chairman David Lowenthal

John Rokicki, Vice-Chairman Peter MacDonald

Paul Anderson Lorraine Neilan

Jeffrey Gibbs John Nunnari

Kimberly Ferguson Kathleen Singh

Sherry Horeanopoulos Rosemary Warren

Jane James Jeffrey Wentzell

Sarah Jordan

Committee Members absent:

Mary Copeland Kelly Maxwell

Kenneth Fensin Elizabeth Pape

Paul James

Administration present:

Alfred D. Tutela, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools

Paul Soojian, Director of Operations

Mary Scott, Director of Administrative Services

Philip Campbell, Director of Student/Information Services

Susan Sullivan, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent

Others present:

Thomas Pandiscio, Principal WRHS

Linda Lehans, The Landmark

Joseph Lambert, Community Crier

Melanie Mangun, Clinton Item News

Douglas Briggs, Rutland Selectboard

Edmond Benoit, Chairman Holden Finance Committee

Joe Giotta, Holden Finance Committee

Ruth Briggs, Rutland

Janis Pancare, Sterling

Sue Schneeweis, Sterling

Debbie Croucher, Sterling

Janet Sidor, Princeton

Ann Walsh, Princeton

Deb Pospiel, Rutland

Greg Pospiel, Rutland

Tom Gogen, Sterling

Dan Olds, Sterling (student at WRHS)

Donna Dominguez, Sterling

Catherine Riley, Holden

Kimberly Dickman, Holden

Brian Tokarz, Holden

Caitlin Smith, Holden

Robert Becker, Holden

Edward McTigue, Paxton

Hal Lane, Holden

Jane McTigue, Holden

Angela M. Colwell Cubour, Holden

Lori St. Germain, Holden

Lisa Sutter, Holden

Joan Siegel, Holden

Karen King, Holden

Kathleen Halloran, Rutland

Chuck Ivaldi, Sterling

James Connolly, Holden

Jim Pedone, Holden

Pamela Robinson, Holden

Marianne Wojcicki, Rutland

Bob Williamson, Princeton

Patrick McNawn, Sterling

Dennis Criner, Sterling

Linda Trulson, Paxton

Bob Rauh, Rutland

Nancy Washkevich, Holden

Sharon Bednarek, Holden

Jeff Larson, Holden

Anthony Gribbons, Holden

Ginny Belcher, Holden

Carla Volturo, Princeton

Linda Sasso, Princeton

Maureen Sullivan, Paxton

Sue Reynolds, Holden

Jack Farley, Holden

Rosann Silver, Holden

Sheila Bachant, Holden

Otto Lies, Holden

Patricia McKeon Johnson, Holden

Melinda Johnson, Paxton

Ian Callahan, Holden

Beth Cunningham, Holden

Ryan Brennan, Rutland (Senior WRHS)

Mary Kate Cunningham, Holden (Sophomore WRHS)

Chris Belcher, Holden (Freshman WRHS)

Clif Wheeler, Rutland

James Hedlund, Holden

Karen Key, Holden

Roberta Lojko

Chairman Duncan Leith opened the public hearing at 8:00 PM.

Chairman Leith introduced Drayton Fair and Jeffrey Davis from Tappe Associates, Inc. who presented the two options requested by the School Committee.

The following members of the public spoke:

Greg Pospiel, Rutland asked if the estimated cost could be higher by 5% or 10%. The architects responded that they look to value engineering and expect that their estimates would not be too low.

Nancy Waskevich, Holden asked if students would be subjected to double sessions. The architects reported that they did not believe so but that would be a determination by the School Committee and the Superintendent.

Joe Giotta, Holden asked what the capacity of the core facility was. The architects answered that the cafeteria could handle up to 2400 students and that there is leaway in the specifications in square footage for cafeterias.


Ryan Brennan, Rutland read a prepared statement (attachment 1).

Karen Key, Holden, asked about safety concerns during a renovation project. The architects reported that all precautions would be used: barriers, separate construction road, etc. During periods of abatement, the area would be sealed.

Jeff Larson, Holden read a prepared statement (attachment 2).

Jack Farley, Holden read a prepared statement signed by 121 faculty members at Wachusett Regional High School (attachment 3).

Sue Reynolds, Holden is opposed to renovation. She reported that the students at Dawson were disrupted and they had an opportunity to be housed in a separate facility. That would not be an option at the high school.

Hal Lane, Holden, supported building a new school. He emphasized the quality of the education at WRHS. One can look at SAT scores, MCAS scores and other standardized tests. It has taken fifty years to develop a program as exemplary as Wachusett’s and the towns should vote to keep that program alive in one new building. Mr. Lane reported that he proudly watch the building of the high school and he would like to proudly watch the building of a new high school. He also commented on the negative discussions happening in the District. He feels that negative discussions breed negative feelings and that the focus should be on the positive.

Mary Kate Cunningham, Holden, read a prepared statement (attachment 4).

Chris Belcher, Holden, read a prepared statement (attachment 5).

Roseann Silver, Holden, supports the construction of a new school.

Joe Giotta, Holden, asked why the cost of the two options was higher than what would be reimbursed. The architects explained that the rates for reimbursement are not in line with construction costs. He further asked what would be lost if the numbers were lowered. The architects reported that less quality, less furnishings and technology or building smaller.

Deb Pospiel, Rutland, asked what the process was after the public hearings. Chairman Leith reported that another public hearing would take place at Thomas Prince School in Princeton on Wednesday at 7:00 PM and that the School Committee would be meeting on Thursday, February 15, 2001 at 7:00 PM in the media center at the high school to make a decision on which proposal to bring to the voters. The School Committee will then decide whether to have town meetings or a ballot but that either option would happen in April.

Thomas Pandiscio, Principal at WRHS reviewed some of the desperate needs at the high school and how critical a decision is. He supported the construction of a new high school.

Maureen Sullivan, Paxton, supported new construction.

Ginny Belcher, Holden, supported new construction. She also expressed concern about the negative comments in some of the five towns. She believed that we should pull together for the students.

Dan Olds, Sterling, read a prepared statement (attachment 6).

Ed Benoit, Chairman Holden Finance Committee, asked the cost of waiting. The Superintendent answered by distributing financial information on the cost of waiting (attachment 7). He presented this on the overhead projector as well.

Ed Benoit then asked what the parking was currently at the high school and what it would be in the new proposals. The architects reported that the high school currently has 230 spaces for faculty and visitors and 110 for students. The new proposals would have 550 spaces.

Chuck Ivaldi, Sterling, asked about the traffic flow of construction vehicles. The architects reported that the hope was to acquire the adjacent land.

Chairman Leith closed the public hearing at 9:15 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Alfred D. Tutela, Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools

ADT:ss/School Committee/Minutes