With Concerns Heightened, Belmont School Committee Will Host Community Safety Forum Tuesday, May 31

Photo: The Belmont School Committee will host a virtual community safety forum on Tuesday, May 31

After a pair of alarming incidents directed at and in Belmont schools and the recent mass murder of students and teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, the Belmont School Committee will host a virtual community safety forum on Tuesday, May 31, at 6:30 p.m., according to an email from Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.

  • To join the Zoom video meeting, click this link:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83217919060 Webinar ID: 832 1791 9060
  • To join by telephone:Call: (929) 205-6099 and enter this PIN: 83217919060# To ask a question or raise your hand, enter *9 on your phone.
  • The meeting will be cablecast live on channel 8 (Comcast) and channel 28 and 2130 (Verizon) and online at belmontmedia.org/govtv

The meeting comes after a bomb threat on May 11 was directed at Belmont High School and “concerning” social media messages accompanied photos of the interior of the Chenery Middle School has raised tensions among residents and parents of school-age students.

The meeting, which will be attended by Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac, Fire Chief David Destefano and Facilities Director David Blazon, will be an opportunity for public safety and town officials “to update on our protocols and to listen to concerns and feedback,” said Phelan.

“As most of our students have exposure to technology, news media, and social media, many of them have likely heard about the tragedy in Uvalde,” said Phelan.

“This topic will no doubt be top-of-mind among families throughout the nation for days to come. Our staff and counselors are available for students in school as needed. Please reach out to one of your child’s teachers, counselor, or principal if you feel your child needs specific support in processing this incident.”

Blazon Named Belmont’s Facilities Director

Photo: David Blazon, Belmont’s new facilities director (LinkedIn)

David Blazon, who spent the past decade as the Director of Public Works and Recreation at the regional enterprise zone better known as Devens, was named Belmont’s director of facilities at the Select Board’s Monday, March 29 meeting.

Blazon replaces Steve Dorrance who left in November 2020 for the facility’s position in Haverhill.

“Thank you. Glad to be here,” Blazon told the Select Board.

According to Human Resources Director Shawna Healey, Blazon, who is not under a contract, is eligible for all town benefits in regards to health, dental, life insurance, and he will have a take-home vehicle. His annual salary is $125,000.

Town Administrator Patrice Garvin said she and Belmont Superintendent John Phelan received more than 30 resumes before whittling the hiring process down to Blazon.

The director is responsible for maintaining more than one million square feet of buildings and grounds under the control of the Select Board and the School Committee. In addition, the Facilities Department makes recommendations to the Capital Budget Committee for long-term improvements to the town and school buildings. Town Meeting approved the merger of the once separate town and school departments in 2011.

“I do want to express how excited I am that you’re on board,” said Board Chair Roy Epstein. “The facilities position is such a critical service in town that we look forward to working with you and to solve the many pressing facilities challenges that we have.”

A graduate of Lowell High School, Blazon matriculated at Wentworth Institute of Technology where he earned an associate’s degree in Architectural Engineering. After working as a project engineer designing state-of-the-art energy-efficient systems for a private non-profit, he spent 15 years in Lowell first as a site manager and then deputy commissioner in the Public Works Department.

In Devens, he managed with a staff of 15 the community’s infrastructure including building maintenance, custodial care, 500 acres of landscaping, and 60 miles of road and sidewalks along with snow and storm management.

Dorrance Leaving Facilities, Third Department Head To Leave In Past Month

Photo: Steve Dorrance

Steve Dorrance, Belmont’s influential director of facilities who held the job for the past two and a half years, has been hired by the city of Haverhill to maintain its 41 school and city buildings.

Dorrance is the third department director who has or is leaving Belmont’s Town Hall complex in the past month, joining Human Resources’ Jessica Porter and the Town Accountant Chitra Subramanian.

Dorrance’s final day in Belmont is Nov. 27.

In an announcement by Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini, the city’s School Committee voted on Oct. 29 to provide the Georgetown native a three-year contract with an annual salary of $145,000. Dorrance’s current salary is in the $125,000 range.

Since 2018, Dorrance has been a prominent member of each of Belmont’s development and redevelopment projects including the $295 million Belmont Middle and High School as well as advocating for a greater investment in infrastructure and maintenance.

In an (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune article, Haverhill School Superintendent Margaret Marotta said Dorrance’s experience taking a leadership role with Massachusetts School Building Authority projects was important to the department’s decision.

“Given our school buildings projects, which include several large-scale multimillion-dollar initiatives such as district-wide HVAC repairs, a new high school gymnasium roofing project nearing acceptance with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, and the ongoing Consentino School building project, in addition to our day-to-day and COVID-19 related custodial management and supervision expectations, we are particularly pleased to have such an impressive leader joining the team,” Marotta said in the article.

Schools To Remain In Remote Learning Through Tuesday As District Reviews Air Exchange Data … Again


After suffering through the public embarassment of admitting the data supporting one of the pillars of its safety protocol was rife with faulty calculations, Belmont School District has decided it needs double the time it orginally believed before finally feeling confidence with the numbers.

So, with an abundance of caution in mind, the district announced late Friday, Oct 23, that PreK to 8th grade students will remain in remote learning for a fourth and fifth day: Monday, Oct. 26, and Tuesday, Oct. 27.

“Our expectation at this time is for hybrid in-person learning to resume at the elementary level on Wednesday, Oct. 28, and at the middle school level on Thursday, Oct. 29,” read an email from Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.

The reason for these additional days is to ensure “the accuracy of the data” coming from a third round of air exchange tests conducted in Belmont’s six public school buildings.

“This is a time consuming process, and we do not want to rush,” said Phelan.

The extent of the problem was revealed at the Tuesday, Oct. 20, Belmont School Committee meeting when Keith Prata from Bala Consulting Engineers, hired to conduct air exchange tests and advise the town on the number of fans and ventulators required in each classroom, admitted that miscalculations on the use of a multiplier led to discrepancies throughout the Excel spreadsheet underestimated the equipment needed. The errors were discovered at the beginning of the month.

In its mitigation of the faulty data set, the district has been testing and reviewing the latest numbers with Bala and the town’s Facilities Department:

  • For a third time Bala has walked through the buildings to review and assess the allocation of resources to ensure appropriate air exchange.
  • In an abundance of caution, the district has implemented a peer review process.
  • Steven Dorrance, the town’s director of facilities is reviewing the data with Bala.
  • School principals will do a building-based review of the latest data.
  • The review will be shared with the educators’ health and wellness committee
  • Meetings with be held with all parties in the review process.

“We expect the review, sharing of data, and meetings will take two days. We are still awaiting the final report and executive summary from Bala,” said Phelan. “When the School Department receives this, we will submit it to our stakeholders.”

Belmont Hires State Bureau Director To Run Town/School Facilities

Photo: Stephen Dorrance.

Belmont has been on a hiring spree since the beginning of the New Year with a new Town Administrator, Light Department director and a principal for the Wellington all coming on board.

And this week, the town welcomes a new facilities director who comes from the ranks of the state bureau of facilities.

“We finally found someone,” said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin as she introduced Stephen Dorrance – an hour later than expected – to the Board of Selectmen at its Thursday night meeting, April 12. Garvin said Dorrance was one of four finalists and his qualifications rose to the top.

Dorrance comes to Belmont having worked for the past four years as a multi-site facilities director for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, responsible for the building management and maintenance, regulatory compliance and environmental services at four hospital campuses – Lemuel Shattuck Hospital, Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital for Children, Tewksbury Hospital and Western Massachusetts Hospital – that houses 45 buildings, 800 beds, high pressure boiler/power plants, 10 miles of roadway, 1,000 acres of land, and 20 acres of parking.

“I’m looking forward to this. I’ve been a member of the National Trust for Historical Preservation for 20 years and love the character of Belmont,” Dorrance said, and will seek to “make these old, beautiful buildings even more beautiful.” 

Dorrance, who has a BS from Suffolk and a Master’s from Harvard, is now responsible for maintaining more than one million square feet of buildings and grounds under the control of the Board of Selectman and the School Committee since the operations merged seven years ago.

Facilities Director Boyle To Retire At Year’s End

Photo: Gerald Boyle

Gerald Boyle, who was Belmont’s first-ever joint Facilities Director, announced his retirement at Monday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

Boyle, who spent a 34-year career in municipal government, arrived in Belmont in September 2013 to head the town’s newly created joint facilities managers position, responsible for all municipal buildings including those under the control of the school department.

For decades, the town and the school department had separate managers which was a bone of contention for more than 20 years. A non-binding citizen’s article to consolidate the buildings and grounds into one department was approved at a Special Town Meeting in Nov. 2010.

Belmont Facilities Dept. Has Summer Temp Work

Photo: Facilities Department seeking summer workers.

The Belmont Facilities Department at 19 Moore St., is seeking residents who are interested in applying for temporary summer positions working within the department.

The anticipated salary for the jobs is minimum wage. 

The Facilities Department maintains town and school buildings including the restored historic buildings of the Town Hall Complex; T0wn Hall and the Homer Municipal Building. The department also services various other town buildings including the Police Station, the two fire stations, the Beech Street Senior Center, the former Municipal Light Department Building on Concord Avenue, and the buildings located at the Town Yard.

The department is responsible for maintenance and repairs at the town’s six school buildings and the School Administration Building on Pleasant Street.               

For more information/application send email to Fred Domenici, supervisor of building maintenance at: adomenici@belmont-ma.gov