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July 11, 2013

Heard Around Town: Speaking in a different language in Peabody

PEABODY — It wasn’t on the agenda at last Tuesday’s School Committee meeting, but the status of Peabody High’s German program led to a sometimes contentious debate — a debate inspired by the fact it wasn’t on the agenda.

Member Tom Rossignoll started the discussion asking Superintendent Joe Mastrocola if changes were coming to the German program. He noted that such questions are being asked by parents and students.

Mastrocola answered flatly that no changes are contemplated.

Member Beverley Griffin Dunne noted that she had asked to have the issue of the German program put on the agenda and had gotten no word back. She stressed the importance of having certain matters on the agenda, given the restrictions of the state’s open meeting law. “We as members are not allowed to discuss these things unless we are at a meeting,” she said.

“The decision was made by me not to put it on the agenda,” said Mayor Ted Bettencourt. “I stand by that decision.” He explained that because there is no change in the German program, he saw no need to put it on the agenda. “German is being continued. And I didn’t think it was necessary to have a meeting on that topic.”

He said it’s the first time he declined to put something on the agenda.

“It ended up on the agenda anyway,” said member Brandi Carpenter.

“What else would you like us not to discuss?” asked colleague Dave McGeney.

Smiling and sighing, Bettencourt recalled his prior post in concluding, “I miss the City Council.”

Zoned out

There won’t be a neighborhood meeting on rezoning the Pulaski Street industrial area, or at least not in the near future. Nor will city boards take up the proposal, which was designed to split the park in half, with one section zoned for commercial use and the other for business. The proposal inspired some fierce opposition from the businesses located within and some concerns from surrounding residents.

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