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School Board Discusses Redistricting Rumors, Turf Field Rates

Aug 29, 2014 10:00AM ● By Lynn Ulsh
written by Lynn S. Ulsh,
Bulletin Reporter

At a brief meeting on August 12, the Bellingham School Committee approved changes to the school handbooks and discussed turf-field fees/advertising rates and facts and rumors regarding the proposed redistricting for the three elementary schools.

School Committee member Dan Ranieri noted that the Committee had received several calls about rumors that there would be no kindergarten this year at Clara Macy Elementary School.
Superintendent Edward Fleury noted that four families on two streets that were in the Macy School District yet are adjacent to the Stall Brook district were redistricted to Stall Brook for this year (2014-15). He said that the adjustment was made because of class sizes, bringing Macy kindergarten classes down from 22 to 20 students each, with Stall Brook having three classes of 20, 20 and 19.  Fleury said that changes such as this are made often and have no relation to the eventual closing of Macy School.

Fleury announced that the complete redistricting plan will be available for review on the district website. He said that the committee had looked at every street in Bellingham and at sibling placement and tried to even out the numbers so as not to have 400 at South and only 200 at Stall Brook.  The preliminary district numbers predict an enrollment of 386 at South and 314 at Stall Brook for the 2015-16 school year.  However, they will take into advisement all parental concerns.

Ranieri added that the public should not listen to rumors and misconceptions swirling around, and he noted that “if you are getting your information solely by Facebook and social media, you might as well be consulting a Ouija® board.”

The Committee also discussed the three tiers of rental fees for turf-field usage. These fees, as well as money generated from advertising revenue, will be placed into a revolving account to be used for the field’s maintenance and eventual replacement.

Group A will consist of town, school and PTO groups who will not be charged for field usage. Group B will include in-town youth sports organizations and will be charged $35 per hour for field usage.  Group C consists of in-town adult organizations, which will be charged $75 and out-of-town organizations both youth and adult, which will be charged $100 per hour.
Ranieri said that they had compared these fees with those in surrounding towns and found them to be among the most reasonable in the area.  He noted that turf fields are becoming standard in all towns. Medfield just approved two, and Mendon-Upton is proposing construction of a turf field.

Pop Warner President Peter Gabrielle said that he feels the fees are extremely fair.  However, Pop Warner held registrations in February and didn’t get the information regarding possible usage fees until June.  Therefore, they didn’t anticipate the extra $1200-1500 in costs and did not raise participation fees.

Ranieri said that the fee discussion had been in progress since the budget process and that it would be difficult to give one group an exception not given to other groups.  He noted that fees have also been increased for school usage as well, impacting greatly organizations such as youth basketball.

Additionally, the Committee discussed the sale of advertising signs for the turf field and the high school gym.  The signs will be made to the same size and colors to maximize attractiveness and keep a consistent presentation. Funds raised from advertising sales will also go into the revolving account.
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