Vote for Me for School Committee!

As some of you may have read in Thursday’s Citizen Herald, I’ve decided to run for what’s left of Diane Stafford’s three year term on School Committee. This will be a one year position vacated by Becky Vose, who’s seeking a three year position on the School Committee. As Cassie Norton’s excellent write up in the Citizen Herald stated: this is a way for me to give back to this community and take a more active role in the important decisions that face our town and our schools. With three children, ages 8, 6 and 4 I’ve got skin in the game, as they say. And the issues facing our students are issues that I care deeply about.

Giving back is what Blogging Belmont has been about (and will continue to be about).  In the process of gathering signatures for my nomination (which were handed in today, thank you very much), I heard an earful from residents about what they’d like from their schools and their town. They want excellence and transparency and thoughtful leadership. Above all, they want an end to the rancor and serial crises that have come to define Belmont politics. Should I be fortunate enough to get elected, I’ll work hard on behalf of our schools and our kids. I’ll also work hard to bring transparency to the School Committee and to improve communications with town leaders, and the voters in general. I hope you’ll vote for me for School Committee.

Thanks,

Paul Roberts

Shovel ready? Roads, sewers on list of projects considered for bailout money

If the State’s list of shovel-ready projects is accurate, Belmont stands to receive at least a portion of the federal bailout money that will soon be headed to Massachusetts from Washington D.C. — but how many of the “shovel ready” projects in town will get funded is unclear.

How much federal bailout money is coming Belmont's way?

How much federal bailout money is coming Belmont's way?

With the federal bailout bill nearing completion, Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration is swinging into high gear to make sure that billions of dollars in federal aid that are coming to Massachusetts find a home. In recent months put together a 200+ person task force, working under Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, to comb through eligible projects. That task force assembled, and has now published, a list of hundreds of so-called “shovel ready” projects in the state that could receive funding. With the hangover of Big Dig excess still weighing the state down, Patrick also named real estate developer Jeffrey Simon as the state’s Director of Infrastructure Investment  to oversee how the federal money is allocated. The state has also set up a Web page, www.mass.gov/recovery, to serve  as a clearing house for its efforts.

So how does Belmont fare? It’s not clear. A review of both the raw list of projects submitted to the state, and the state’ s list of “reviewed” projects submitted by its own agencies is a starting point, and suggest that Belmont could stand to gain considerably from the bailout, if even a small number of the proposed projects are funded.

Town officials submitted no fewer  than 17 shovel ready projects with a price tag north of $30 million. Road, sewer and other improvement to municipal buildings top the list and range from a $14m project to rebuild 2.5 miles of new roadway and improved drainage along Trapelo Rd. and Belmont St., to a $35 request for a fan to blow exhaust out of the town’s municipal garage.

Belmont also shows up in the list of shovel ready projects submitted by state agencies. That list includes  a new bike/pedestrian trail to Alewife garage for $5.6 million (yes we can! yes we can!)  and $800,000 of environmental cleanup on the grounds of the Metropolitan State Hospital on the Waltham/Belmont line.The state list also includes generic descriptions of projects to improve energy efficiency in public schools. Some of those may refer to projects, such as construction of the new Wellington Elementary or improvements to the High School and other facilities, but its impossible to tell.

B2 will have more coverage on this including, hopefully, some more details on how the state will begin paring down its list of approved projects and allocating funding!

BCH: School Committee taps Entwistle for Super

The Belmont Citizen Herald is reporting that the School Committee has tapped George Entwistle, the Superintendent of Falmouth, Maine, as its choice to head Belmont’s Public School system starting next year. Entwistle was one of two finalists, along with Ashland Superintendent Richard Hoffman, and won unanimous support from School Committee members, who responded especially to Entwistle’s record as a consensus builder in Falmouth, a highly ranked school district in the state that serves around 2,100 students. The School Committee’s voted to offer Entwistle a contract, with a provision that a mutually agreeable contract must be executed within 10 days, BCH reported.

Having attended  Q&A sessions that the SC had with Entwistle and Hoffman, I’m pleased with the choice — though both candidates were impressive. I though Entwistle responded thoughtfully to the questions that the audience asked — including a question from me about his previous go-around with the Sharon school district. As the head of a high achieving school district in Maine, I think Entwistle is well prepared for the high expectations of Belmont families for their schoold and their children. But — as others have said — he also seems like a bridge builder rather than a bomb thrower, which will serve him well in dealings with the Warrant Committee, Selectmen and the town in general.