Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

School Committee, March 14, 2024

Public Hearing on the Superintendent’s Proposed School Budget for Fiscal 25

No members of the public came forward to speak on the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2025. The hearing is a requirement by law and serves in a similar capacity to other public comment sessions. The session was closed after seeing no participation.

Public Comment

The public comment period allowed individuals to address the committee on items of school business, with a normal length of 20 minutes, subject to extension by the chair. The guidelines were stated, prohibiting obscenity, abusive language, personal complaints about school personnel, and directing all remarks through the chairperson.

  • Amanda Troja expressed the need for full-time librarians in all Arlington elementary schools. She highlighted the disparity where some schools like Thompson, which has the largest student body, do not have full-time librarians. She emphasized the importance of certified librarians for media literacy and the academic benefits they provide, especially for economically disadvantaged students and those with disabilities.
  • Krista Kelleher raised concerns about the Arlington High School attendance policy, calling it unreasonable and punitive. She referenced its negative implications on student motivation, health, and educational opportunities. Krista presented a spreadsheet with comparative data of other schools’ policies and requested a review and revision of the attendance policy, especially regarding potential inequities for students with disabilities and other marginalized groups.
  • Eliza Perez discussed the issue of high CO2 levels in Arlington Public Schools, connecting it to sickness and absence rates. She mentioned studies showing the adverse impact of poor air quality on cognition and health and called for the establishment of an indoor air quality team and the use of Esser and Desi funding to upgrade air handling systems.
  • Amy Torres reported on the impact of long COVID on children, stressing that recurring COVID infections and long COVID play a major role in student absenteeism. She suggested addressing the root cause, SARS-CoV-2, by improving safety measures to protect students.

AHS Student Representative Update

Ms. Kolari shared updates on upcoming events such as musicals, concerts, Social Worker Appreciation Day, inclusion workshops, and highlighted an award won by the AHS student council at a recent conference. She also mentioned a fundraising event where teachers volunteer to get pied in the lobby.

Superintendent’s Proposed Budget Discussion

There were updates to the FY 2025 budget, including revised demographic data and corrections to position schedules. Efficiencies were realized through the elimination of certain positions in areas like physical education and curriculum specialist roles due to decreased enrollment. The budget also contained adjustments to reflect the current level of staff actually filled versus budgeted. Priority areas for potential budget additions were discussed, such as secondary level services and elementary librarians. It was noted that facility upgrades like a digital learning model and custodial support would continue to be evaluated.

Monthly Finance Report

Mr. Ferrier outlined the fiscal status as of March 13, including details on salaries, services, materials, and additional expenses. A comprehensive overview of the general fund, revolving accounts, and grant expenditures was discussed. Any further questions regarding the finance report were encouraged to be communicated before the next meeting.

Miscellaneous Updates

  • The superintendent announced the launch of a morning Ottoson Middle School bus from East Arlington and the potential for an afternoon bus service.
  • The DK4 Sports of All Sorts grant was awarded to APS for after-school sports programming for multilingual learners.
  • A Student Opportunity Act (SOA) plan update is in progress and will be shared with the committee for a vote at the next meeting.

Subcommittee Reports

  • Budget: Discussions on budget revisions continue, with a vote scheduled for the next meeting.
  • Community Relations: No report.
  • Curriculum, Instruction, and Accountability: A meeting is scheduled with topics including professional development and curriculum director updates.
  • Facilities: Discussions of a possible meeting are underway.
  • Policy: No report.
  • High School Building Committee: No report.

Executive Session

The committee entered into an executive session to discuss AEA Unit A negotiations and stated they would not return from executive session.



Inside Arlington was created by two Arlingtonians who are deeply concerned by the decline in local news and its impact on civic life. Our mission is to provide accessible information to Arlington residents to foster an informed and engaged citizenry. And we want to do it in an economically sustainable way. More…


Receive Inside Arlington by email: