UPDATED Dec. 6: The Dec. 6 Arlington update shows 2,514 cases of Covid-19 in town, an increase of 42 since Nov. 30 and 175 since Nov. 11. Deaths remain at 88 and have risen by just one since May.
The percentage in town having at least one dose rose to 89 percent on Nov. 23.
Since May 19, when cases rose to 1,868, until July 6, when the count was 1,875, Arlington has had its longest periods with few increases since the pandemic hit Arlington and YourArlington began reporting numbers almost daily, on March 6, 2020.
UPDATED Dec. 6: Filling long-vacant positions this school year and funding new ones next year were main topics for the School Committee on Thursday, Dec. 2. Discussion of staffing took place at several junctures during the 90-minute meeting, but no consensus was reached, nor were any decisions made.
Teachers, counselors, social workers and paraprofessionals are needed, say teachers’ advocates, committee members and Arlington Public Schools administrators.
“Quite a few” vacancies still exist almost three months into the instructional year, according to Human Resources Director Robert Spiegel. These include a Spanish teacher, a reading teacher and numerous teaching assistants and substitute teachers. “It’s hard to get substitute coverage,” Spiegel said.
Committee member Len Kardon suggested signing bonuses or other financial incentives be considered.
The equivalent of at least four new full-time employees will be needed at Arlington High School because of an anticipated 50 more students next fall, Principal Matthew Janger said. Enrollment has been up over the past four years, from 1,325 in 2018 to 1,380 in 2019 to 1,411 in 2020 to 1,487 currently.
Arlington’s fiscal 2022 tax rate will increase slightly, to $11.42, up from $11.34 in fiscal '21, expanding the average tax bill to $9,646, from $9,405.
The Select Board on Nov. 22 unanimously approved the recommendations of the Board of Assessors. The state Department of Revenue must support the new rate.
“The tax rate will increase by only 8 cents per thousand [of assessed valuation] because Arlington’s home values didn’t significantly increase that much this year,” said Mary W. O’Connor, board of assessors' member. “People in town get wonderful services for what they pay for because this is a very well-run town and offers many amenities.”
As is pointed out annually during the assessors' presentation, the town's single-family house tax rate is significantly lower than neighboring towns of Belmont, Winchester and Lexington, said Paul Tierney, director of assessors.
Adam Estapa had already passed two exams needed to become a licensed optician when he was stymied by the third: It was on paper, and he had to fill in little bubbles to show his answers. The problem was he couldn't see them very well.
Estapa, 41, is legally blind. The earlier exams were on the computer, where he could enlarge those omnipresent exam bubbles. But this test? The testers said no. He got a 35 and failed.
So he challenged the testing protocols and, with the help of the American Board of Opticianry was able to take the final test on the computer. He passed. Easily
Now he is the only legally blind optician in Massachusetts, he says. He and his wife, Rachel Estapa, opened Perception Optical at 60 Mass. Ave. in May 2020, two months after Covid hit town. While they have a range of clients, they especially enjoy helping people with low vision since Adam is well aware of some of their stumbling blocks.
The Verizon antenna contract for telecommunications equipment on the roof of the Hauser building in Arlington Heights drew the attention of the Arlington Housing Authority (AHA) board at its regular monthly meeting Nov. 17 for a number of reasons, affecting the board and residents.
The seven-story building, home to elderly and disabled residents, is the seventh tallest building in Arlington, an advantageous feature for rooftop installation of wireless transmission equipment.
According to Steel in the Air, a company that negotiates lease agreements between property owners and wireless carriers and cell-tower companies, rooftop sites can provide a coverage radius of up to 25 miles to transmit cell phone signals to and from mobile phones to a rooftop receiver – or as far away as Gillette Stadium, Salem and Framingham.
Last July, the board considered a consent letter from Verizon to modify the existing wireless facility at the Hauser building. The special meeting, which was not part of its regular monthly board schedule, went into closed session, and the meeting minutes, while posted to the website, do not contain publicly available information.
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