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The purpose of this Blog is to pick up where the Atkinson Reporter has left off. "The King is dead, Long live the King!" This Blog is a forum for the discussion of predominantly Atkinson; Officials, People, Ideas, and Events. You may give opinion, fact, or evaluation, but ad hominem personal attacks will not be tolerated, or published. The conversation begun on the Atkinson Reporter MUST be continued!

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Timberlane principal changes mind about student groupings, Parents and Students WIN!

From the Eagle Tribune;

Timberlane principal changes mind about student groupings
By Margo Sullivan

PLAISTOW — The brightest students in the incoming freshman class at Timberlane Regional High School will have the opportunity to study physical science and biology in accelerated classes after all.

Last night, Principal Donald Woodworth told the School Board he has reversed course on a plan to mix students of differing abilities in the freshman physical science classes and drop the accelerated class.

The issue about grouping students sparked a controversy last month when Peter Bealo, a Plaistow resident, drew other parents' attention to a goal in the school district's proposed strategic plan. The goal suggested the district intended to end "tracking" — the practice of grouping students by ability in the same classes.

Many parents objected to the change and said the mixed classes would not challenge the gifted students.

Woodworth said the changes were, in part, responses to a criticism by the visiting committee of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The committee, which toured the school last May found more classes at Timberlane were "tracked," or separated according to students' academic ability, than seemed necessary and suggested Timberlane was failing to provide equal opportunity for all students.

Woodworth said he took the criticism to heart.

"While I believe we need to continue the conversation about ability grouping, there needs to be more agreement about significant structural changes before they are implemented," he said.

Woodworth thanked parents for voicing their opinions.

"I listened closely," Woodworth said, adding he concluded he had made a mistake to change the course selection without "having this discussed before we brought it forward."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Article submission:

Residents of two towns oppose Atkinson trucking facility
Residents have lined up lawyer, sound expert if they lose decision

By Eric Parry

ATKINSON — A proposed 24-hour trucking facility on Industrial Way has drawn anger from residents from two communities who believe it will bring noise and pollution to their neighborhood.

The Planning Board has yet to take action, but heard from abutters and the owners of P.J. Murphy Transportation Inc. for almost three hours Wednesday night about a proposed trucking facility at 16 Industrial Way.

The board split, 3-3, Wednesday and is scheduled to discuss it again on March 4. Wednesday's meeting was the third time the project was discussed.

Before the next meeting, Chairman Sue Killam said the board needs to review more information about how much sound would come from the proposed facility. The town had requested a sound study, funded by the applicant, but did not have all the requested information available Wednesday, she said.

Board Vice Chairman Paul DiMaggio, who voted against the plan, said the facility would absolutely cause problems for neighbors because it will be busiest during early morning hours.

"Noise to neighbors is the most crucial thing," DiMaggio said. He said the trucking facility doesn't fit in that part of the community, which is zoned for commercial and industrial use. The town's zoning regulations specifically identify what is allowed in the zone and the trucking facility doesn't meet the requirements, DiMaggio said.

Killam declined to comment on that, but said the board had resolved that issue at previous meetings and it was no longer a reason to deny the project.Jim Lundt of Deer Run Road in Atkinson said his home is within 1,500 feet of the proposed facility. He said he would be woken up in the middle of the night with trucks pulling in and out of the facility around 3 a.m.

The plan was changed Wednesday night to include an 8-foot berm that would surround the property to muffle sound. But neighbors say they have little confidence that would do anything to help them.

"An 8-foot berm doesn't come between the sound of the noise and our bedroom windows," said Christine O'Hara Tremblay, of Christine Lane in Salem.

Tremblay said her greatest concern was that trucks could spill fuel and it would leak into the ground. The property is partly surrounded by wetlands and all of the homes in the area get their water through wells, she said.

The plans only call for the ground to be gravel and not pavement, but DiMaggio said he expects that issue to be corrected at the next meeting.

Killam said there shouldn't be any concern about fuel spills because the trucks won't be filled with fuel. Keith Wolters of Christine Lane in Salem said if the Planning Board approves the facility, he and a group of about 15 residents plan to challenge that decision. They have already hired their own sound expert to review the plan and have hired a lawyer to explore their legal options.

"We just don't want our home values impacted," Wolters said. "We don't want our lifestyles impacted."