Last Of ARPA Funds Directed For School Security, Butler Roof

Photo: The Butler school will have its original roof replaced in the summer of 2024.

The “last” of the $8.7 million Belmont received in American Rescue Plan Act funding will be spent to create secure entries at all district schools and replace the 123-year-old roof on the Butler school.

In January, the Select Board voted to allocate the remaining $1,137,214 in the town’s ARPA account to go towards capital needs. After reviewing the capital projects in the town that align with the ARPA spending requirements, the Comprehensive Capital Budget Committee Chair Christine Doyle returned to the board on April 3 with two recommended projects:

  • The creation of security vestibules with security cameras in three district schools totaling $245,000
  • The remaining $892,214 will be combined with $607,786 in discretionary capital funds to be mainly used to repair the Daniel Butler Elementary School’s roof.

A security vestibule is a secure room between the school’s outer door and the building interior, allowing visitors access to one space at a time. The structure limits and regulates entry, allowing more efficient screening of people entering the school.

The three vestibules will cost $75,000, and the upgraded cameras and technology are priced at $170,000. Doyle said the Select Board’s OK will allow the Facilities Department to advance the project immediately, with the vestibules and cameras completed by the start of school in September. The CCBC will request an additional $160,000 in the fiscal 2025 budget for further camera upgrades in the other three schools.

“I think the security additions are timely,” said Board Chair Mark Paolillo, noting how schools around the country are stepping up measures to keep students and teachers safe.

The Butler slate roof is part of the original structure built in 1900 and is showing its age. David T. Blazon, director of the town’s Facilities Department, told the board the existing slate roof will be completely replaced with a synthetic version that is comparable in price with the natural rock. Due to a lot of engineering specifications and prep work needed, the job will take place in the summer of 2024 when students are not in the building.

Blazon said the new roof could be expected to last for a century.

While the ARPA account is now at zero, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will remain empty, said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin. She noted that many projects using ARPA funds are estimates of what they expect to spend on a job. If bids come in less than what was allocated, the account could once again have a positive balance in the future.

Breaking: Butler Elementary Evacuated Due To Suspected Natural Gas; Students Relocated To Nearby St Lukes

Photo: The Butler school

The students of Daniel Butler Elementary School have been temporarily evacuated from the building located on White Street due to a suspected odor of natural gas in one of the school’s stairwells reported sometime before 8:30 a.m., Thursday, March 24.

The Belmont Fire Department is on scene, according to a social media message from the Boston Police Department. Due to the rain and cold temperatures, students are being taken by police to nearby St. Luke’s RC Church on Lexington Street.

National Grid which supplies gas to the town “will be arriving on scene shortly,” said police sources. Commuters will experience brief detours in the area.

Welcome Back: One-Time Classroom Teachers At Burbank, Butler Named Interim Principals

Photo: Mary Lee Burbank Elementary

A pair of veteran educators were named interim principals at the Belmont schools where they once were classroom teachers in announcements made by the Belmont School District on Thursday, Dec. 2.

Brenda Maurao and Julie Babson, who both taught third graders – Maurao from 2000 to 2005 and Babson from 2010 to 2016 – at the Mary Lee Burbank and Daniel Butler elementary, respectively, are returning to their former schools but now as the educator in charge.

After saying back in November the district would “do our best to ensure that we hire the qualified and capable principal that your children deserve,” Superintendent John Phelan said in an email to parents of both schools that “I believe we have made good on that promise.”

Each of the candidates came from an initial pool of 19 applicants and were the preference of parents/guardians, school staffs, and the district’s leadership team during the interview process, said Phelan.

Both Maurao and Babson will be in their posts until the end of next school year on June 30, 2023 as the search for a permanent replacements will commence in 2022. Offering an extended 18 month interim tenure “was a critical part of attracting a candidate as highly qualified as Julie to leave her current position in the middle of this year” while providing each school community “consistency during this important time,” said Phelan.

In the coming days the district will be releasing information about “Meet and Greet” opportunities when and where the community can meet the new interim principals.

Background: Brenda Maurao

Maurao comes to the Burbank from the Framingham Public Schools where she is the Assistant Director of Talent Growth and Development. Prior to that she served as the Assistant Director of Elementary Education and as an Elementary Principal in Framingham for three years. Additional school leadership work includes as Principal at the K-3 Stall Brook Elementary School in Bellingham and as an Assistant Principal from 2012-2017 at the Fred W. Miller School in Holliston.

Brenda Maurao, Mary Lee Burbank Elementary

She was an elementary classroom teacher for 13 years from 1999-2012 which included Grade 3 classroom leadership experiences in Holliston, Arlington and Belmont.

Maurao grew up in Massachusetts and spent her high school years in Connecticut, matriculating at Western Connecticut State University where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Human Relations in 1996. After college she attended the University of Bridgeport where she received her Master’s Degree in 1998 in the field of Elementary Education. She holds a Principal’s Certification from Lesley University. 

Background: Julie Babson

Julie is currently the Assistant Principal at the Hopkins Elementary School in the Hopkinton Public School system, where she has worked for the past five years. Prior to that she was an elementary classroom teacher in Grades 2, 3, and 5, a career that spanned 21 years from 1995-2016, the last seven at the Butler. She also taught in Lawrence and Colombia.

Babson grew up in Delaware and attended the University of New Hampshire where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Family Studies in 1993. She earned her Master’s Degree from UNH in Elementary Education with a concentration in Reading and Writing in 1994. She holds a Principal’s Certification from Endicott College. 

Julie Babson, Daniel Butler Elementary