Guest Blog Post by School Committee Member, Martha Simon

Burlington Master Plans – Clarification

Currently in Burlington, there are two separate processes that have the name “Master Plan.” This can be confusing. I would like to share with you what each of the different Master Plans are, some of the differences between them, and what issues are involved with each one.

1. School Department Long Range Master Plan. This is a Master Plan solely for the purpose of facilities planning for the Burlington Public Schools. The School Department Master Plan will address three areas:

 demographics (including enrollment projections)

 facilities (the buildings)

 instructional needs (how the buildings meet or fail to meet the educational and instructional needs of the students).

History: The last School Department Long Range Facilities Master Plan was done in 2006 and was designed to guide the Burlington Public Schools for about 10 years. Thus, it is time for a new School Department Master Plan. Over the course of the past 10 years, the Burlington Public Schools, with the financial support of Town Meeting, has addressed many of the needs outlined in the 2006 School Department Master Plan. An updated Long Range Facilities Master Plan is a required element by the Massachusetts School Building Authority for the recently submitted statement of interest for the renovation of Burlington High School in order to be eligible for the reimbursement process.

New School Department Master Plan: The School Committee has submitted a warrant article for May Town Meeting for funding to hire a consulting firm that specializes in school Master Plans to do a new Long Range Facilities plan for the Burlington Public Schools. Dr. Conti and Mr. Robinson drafted the language, which the School Committee voted to approve, and they have submitted this warrant article for the May Town Meeting.

2. Town of Burlington Master Plan: All towns in Massachusetts are required to develop a town-wide Master Plan with a vision for the next 20 to 25 years for the whole town. It encompasses issues as diverse as Land Use, Natural Resources & Open Space, Economic Development, Historical & Cultural Resources, Housing, Transportation, and more. One of the categories is Public Services & Facilities. Public Schools are included in this section, along with town departments such as DPW, Fire, Police, and Recreation.

A Town-wide Master Plan Steering Committee was established almost two years ago with representatives from many different town boards, business groups, and resident groups. I have served as a member of the Town-wide Master Plan Steering Committee since the beginning. In September, 2015, I was appointed to replace Steve Nelson as the School Committee representative on the Town-wide Master Plan Steering Committee.

At the April 12, 2016 School Committee meeting, I spoke as the School Committee representative to the Town-wide Master Plan Steering Committee about a document that the School Committee is sharing with the Town-wide Master Plan Steering Committee as a resource for when they get around to discussing the Public Services & Facilities section of the Town Master Plan. That document and discussion has nothing to do with the School Department Long Range Facilities Master Plan or the warrant article requesting funding to proceed with long-range planning for the schools.

For more information about the Town of Burlington Master Plan process, please contact Kristin Kassner at kkassner@burlington.org

Please feel free to contact Dr. Conti, School Committee Chairman Steve Nelson, myself, or any other School Committee member for clarification about any issues regarding the Burlington Public Schools. We want to be sure that town residents and Town Meeting members understand what we are requesting in the Warrant and that they receive accurate information about it.

Thank you.

Martha Simon

School Committee member

msimon@bpsk12.org

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