Melrose iRaiders Win Framingham Middle School Robotics Tournament

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The Melrose iRaiders VEX robotics team consists of 11 students in 7th and 8th grade at MVMMS. In January they competed in their 5th qualifying tournament of the season at the Walsh Middle School in Framingham. In their first four tournaments they were battle tested competing against local high schools. The Framingham tournament was a Middle School only tournament. The iRaiders were the #1 seeded team for most of the tournament. In the last minutes of the qualifying rounds, they fell to the #2 seed before entering the afternoon elimination matches. As alliance captains, they picked to be their alliance partners the #3 seeded team from the Locke Middle School in Billerica. During a brutal quarter-finals match, they were nearly disqualified because another team called for the MVMMS team to be re-inspected. Failing an on-field inspection, the team called for a 5 minute time out to perform emergency surgery on their robot. Recovering from the set-back, the team went on to sweep their remaining matches and become the Tournament Champions. After competing three weekends in a row, the team has a break before going into the Southern New England Championship on February 25th in Framingham.

iraiders-3The team also competed:
BU tournament in November, Ranked 9/14 High School teams
Hopkinton tournament in December, Ranked 9/18 High School teams – and Tournament Champions
BU tournament in January, ranked 5/24 high school teams – Tournament Finalists
Hopkinton tournament in January, ranked 16/20 high school teams

Appropriations Committee Approves Funding for Modular Classrooms

Last night, the Appropriations Committee of the Board of Aldermen unanimously approved my Administration’s proposed plan to add modular classrooms at both the Winthrop and Hoover Schools, as well as a renovation of the Horace Mann School. This was a critical vote to ensure adequate space and educational equity across our school district for the foreseeable future. I want to thank all of our dedicated teachers and school staff, members of the Board of Aldermen, Superintendent Taymore, our school principals, members of the Permanent School Building Committee, City staff, and the hundreds of parents throughout the City that were involved in this process and gave valuable feedback and comments.

I truly feel this project is a textbook example of how major decision making should work at the local level. As a City, we were presented with a problem. From there, a number of potential solutions were brought forward by our Superintendent of Schools. Public forums were then held with all stakeholders gathering additional information and comments. From there, proposals were then brought back to teachers and staff for their insight. Based on that feedback, the proposed solution changed and evolved to the point that was reached last night.

I have also included below my remarks to the Board of Aldermen from last night’s meeting.

Dear Members of the Board of Aldermen,

Tonight you will take a critically important vote to address space needs and educational equity for the Melrose Public Schools, now and for the next several decades. To recap, over the last several years the Melrose Public Schools have been making necessary adjustments to space and operations to meet the needs of escalating class sizes in the earlier grades. This also included the funding of a demographic study and a space and needs assessment. After much deliberation, the Superintendent presented several options for consideration at a public meeting at the Lincoln School last fall. Many of you took part in that meeting.

It was decided by the School Committee, unanimously supported by the Melrose Permanent Building Committee, and was the overwhelming choice of the public, that the best solution would be the modular option, accompanied by a renovation of the Horace Mann School. As you are aware, the Board of Aldermen debated the issue and the options presented publicly and at length and voted unanimously to fund full architectural designs of the modulars as well as the Horace Mann renovations. We held individual meetings for Hoover, Winthrop, and Horace Mann parents and neighbors to discuss those plans, and during those meetings we collected their input. We made some changes as a result of that input. That stage of the project has been completed, and bids for the modular portion of the project have been received.

At the meeting to fund the architectural designs, we spoke to uncertainty in the modular market, as this has become an option that has been aggressively pursued by many communities in our region as well as throughout the country. Because of the limited number of companies in this line of work, as well as the lack of historic pricing, we were concerned about cost. I spoke publicly about this challenge, and it was a concern of the School Committee as well as we discussed the bids. It should also be noted that site work at the Winthrop School needed to be adjusted to improve drainage, and sewer and drainage upgrades needed to be added at the Hoover School as well. Both investments will correct infrastructure issues that were causing problems on the respective campuses and allow for the best placement of the modular. As a result, the modular bid came in higher than we wanted. However, after careful review, we found the bids to be fair and very competitive, involving two of the most respected companies in the field. The Horace Mann portion of the project, which is a more traditional construction project that we have replicated many times in the City of Melrose, will go out to bid in March. The projected cost is included in this order. We feel very confident in the cost estimate for the Horace Mann, as the price points for each part of the Horace Mann project can be easily researched and estimated.

In conclusion, I ask for your support of this order for the following reasons

  1. The modular portion of this project must be completed by September 1, since there is not enough space in the Melrose Public Schools to meet the needs of next year’s incoming elementary classes. This Board and the School Committee carefully reviewed every option, and it was evident that the modular option was the best and most cost effective option. It remains the best and most cost effective option.
  2. Interest rates are on the rise, and we are still able to capture the best interest rates for these projects before any significant changes occur.
  3. Construction costs are on the rise and will continue to rise, so we are capturing the best available prices for these projects.
  4. The team assembled today is the same team that has brought in every school project that this City has done over the last 13 years. Each of these projects has been of incredible quality, on budget, and on time. The experience and track record of success is there.
  5. For $5.95 million we are able to provide enough space for the foreseeable future, build permanent structures that will last for over half a century, improve the sites of these school buildings (including infrastructure), and make the necessary renovations to the Horace Mann School to provide equitable educational services, improved handicap accessibility, and security on a par with the other neighborhood schools. The price tag of doing this work through structural additions would be in the tens of millions of dollars.
  6. This option allows us to maintain our neighborhood school concept, a true middle school, and a traditional 9-12 high school without shoehorning students that might not be socially, emotionally, or educationally ready for a jump from fourth grade to the middle school and from seventh grade to Melrose High School. I am unequivocally opposed to that move.

A project of this scope, although necessary, comes with financial realities that have to be dealt with. Our commitment tonight limits significant borrowing over the next few years but I feel, as does our Chief Financial Officer, that the City of Melrose is in a position to make this investment and in fact must make this investment.

I ask for your approval.

Snow Update for February 14, 2017

As cleanup continues from this past storm, I wanted to offer an update as to where the City is currently focusing our cleanup efforts.

First, today we will be removing snow from major parking lots in the downtown business districts to alleviate congestion and open up valuable parking spaces for dining and shopping.

Second, DPW throughout the day yesterday and today have been clearing corners at major intersections as well as opening crosswalks in heavily travelled pedestrian areas throughout all business districts. This work has already been completed at school campuses as well as dozens of intersections that are adjacent to schools.

Third, moving forward DPW will be creating openings through snow banks to allow access from on street parking to the sidewalks in major business districts to improve safety for those going into local businesses.

If you have any questions or problems, please call our Snow Operations Center at 781-665-0142.

Middle Schoolers Participate in ‘Math Counts’ Competition

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There are many ways to compete, from athletics to drama to academics, and one group of Melrose middle schoolers showed off their math skills on Saturday, February 4, at the MathCounts Metro Chapter Competition. The Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School hosted the competition, which drew 230 students from around the area, for the sixth year in a row. The team was capably coached by Ms. Kasey Fritz, and the students competed in three rounds of written tests and a final, live, “speed round.” It’s great to see our students challenging themselves and others in this way. Congratulations to our team!

Snow Update for Monday, February 13: No School

We are expecting another 8 inches of snow between this evening and tomorrow morning, accompanied by winds between 30 and 50 mph. Please use extreme caution during the morning commute. All available equipment will be working in the City of Melrose tonight, but please expect delays and treacherous conditions tomorrow, with the ccmobination of heavy snow and high wind.

  • There will be no school in the City of Melrose on Monday.
  • Melrose City Hall will open at 12 noon.
  • All snow operations will be run out of the Melrose City Yard, 781-665-0142.
  • The Melrose Public Library, the Council on Aging, and the Milano Senior Center will be closed.
  • Trash will be on a holiday schedule with no pickup on Monday. Monday trash will be picked up on Tuesday, Tuesday trash on Wednesday, etc.
  • There will be an on-street parking ban starting at 8 p.m. this evening.

Thank you for your patience during this difficult stretch of weather. If you have any concerns regarding snow removal, contact the Snow Operations Center at 781-665-0142.

Important Information Regarding School Tomorrow

A false report has been made by the Melrose Patch that school has been canceled for tomorrow, February 13. This is not true as of this point.

No one from the Melrose Public Schools or the City of Melrose has contacted The Patch to announce a school cancellation. A decision will be made at a later time regarding school tomorrow.

Important information regarding the snowstorm:

  • Trash will be on a one-day delay this week: No pickup on Monday, one-day delay for the rest of the week.
  • An on-street parking ban will take effect citywide at 8 p.m.
  • All calls regarding snow issues should go to the Snow Operations Center, 781-665-0142.

Local Business Spotlight: Melrose Massage

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Massage gift certificates from Melrose Massage make great Valentine’s Day gifts!

Snow Update for February 10, 2017

Here’s an update on the situation for Friday, February 10:

  1. There is no school tomorrow in the City of Melrose.
  2. There will be trash and recycling pickup. As stated yesterday, normal Thursday pickup will be on Friday, normal Friday pickup will be on Saturday.
  3. The Melrose Public Library will open at 10 a.m.
  4. The Milano Center and the Council on Aging will be closed.
  5. City Hall will be open regular Friday hours, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  6. Memorial Hall will be open, with Kids Club happening at 10 a.m.
  7. There is an on-street parking ban in the City of Melrose from 8:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. citywide.
  8. Important notice for those using snowblowers: Please do not put snow in the streets. You are hampering snow removal and creating a hazard for your neighbors. Thank you for your cooperation.
  9. Please direct all calls regarding snow concerns to 781-665-0142.

Morning Update for February 9, 2017

The Melrose Public Schools will be closed today because of the snow.

City Hall will close at noon.

The Melrose Public Library, Council on Aging, and Milano Center will be closed today.

Trash and recycling pickups will be postponed for one day.

Snow operations will be open throughout the day and night. Please direct all snow concerns to 781-665-0142.

Snow Information for February 9, 2017: No School in City of Melrose

There will be no school in the City of Melrose tomorrow, February 9.

There will be no trash or recycling collection on Thursday. There will be a one-day delay for the rest of the week. Thursday’s trash will be picked up on Friday, and Friday’s trash will be picked up on Saturday.

The Melrose Council on Aging, the Milano Center, and the Melrose Public Library will be closed.

The Melrose Board of Aldermen subcommittee meetings have been rescheduled for Monday, February 13.

There will be an on-street parking ban in residential neighborhoods after 10 a.m. There will be no restrictions in the business districts.

For any concerns regarding snow removal, please call the City Yard Snow Operations Center at 781-665-0142.

Please use extreme caution. There will be a heavy nor’easter with up to an inch an hour of snow and high winds till evening.

Again, all snow concerns should be directed to Snow Operations at 781-665-0142.

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