(The following Q&A was submitted by Watertown School Committee Vice Chair Kendra Foley)
I always feel so proud of Watertown High School after hearing from our two School Committee high school advisors, Emily Koufos and Lauren Petrillo. Each month at our School Committee meetings, they give an update on the happenings at the high school, from sports to theater productions, AP tests to college acceptances. I recently had the opportunity to ask Emily Koufos a few questions about her experience at Watertown High School. KF: Have you had a favorite class? EK: My favorite class has definitely been AP Psychology.
Many thanks to Peter Anastasi and his co-workers at the Watertown Water Department. Recently I had a serious backup in my sewerage system. I first called a private relief company and after trying unsuccessfully to relieve the blockage I was told that I probably had a broken drain pipe and would need a private company to replace the line from my house to the street. They indicated that I could get a list of approved contractors from the town highway department. I then called the Public Works Department and within 15 minutes I had Mr. Anastasi at my front door.
Submitted by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, whose district includes Watertown, Belmont and parts of Boston. Overall, state aid to schools is inadequate and, although the current distribution formula works out well for Belmont and Boston, it is unfair to many communities, including Watertown. I hope we can pass the “millionaire’s tax” this November and use the proceeds to increase school aid under a simpler, more rational formula. The state distributes approximately $5 billion annually in unrestricted aid for local schools, known as “Chapter 70” aid, covering on average roughly 1/3 of total local school costs. Aside from MassHealth, unrestricted local school aid is the single largest item in the state budget — roughly 20% of state tax revenue.
Most will agree that January’s cold snap was brutal. We hunkered down in our homes and cranked up the thermostat. We survived nicely with an extra sweater. But for some in Watertown, the cold was truly unbearable. These are folks many of us don’t see or hear about.They include the young family in which Dad is out of work with a long-term injury, Mom is working two minimum wage jobs trying to make ends meet, and one of the two children has a chronic health problem that requires constant medical attention.
As a legislator, I’ve been concerned to reduce our contributions to climate change. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to better understand the local flooding risks caused by the climate changes we seem unable to prevent. It’s hard to know how much the seas are going to rise. First, no one knows how much the people of the world will be able to reduce carbon emissions. Second, even within a given emissions scenario, the uncertainties are considerable. For example, if we just assume continually growing emissions, the estimates of probable local sea level rise vary by a factor of two from 3.2 feet to 7.4 feet by 2100. Much of Boston lies quite low, so these uncertainties matter.
Taking a knee is not disrespecting the flag. Nor is it disrespecting the sacrifices of those who have served. Rather it is exercising one of the freedoms that our forefathers fought to preserve. Freedom is like a muscle – it must be exercised or it will atrophy. Exercising one’s right to protest peacefully is in fact honoring the sacrifices of those who have preceded us.
Just to introduce myself, my name is Antonio Molle, I am a 13- year old lifelong resident of Watertown. I am writing to express my extreme disappointment and frustration in Town Councilor Caroline Bays for taking a knee during the pledge of allegiance at the recent town council inauguration. An elected official is expected to set a good example for all citizens, especially our town’s youngest citizens. Being proud of our country means being a good role model. Before long, some Watertown students will be kneeing during the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of each school day.
I wanted to say a few words to you before the town council meeting tonight. As many of you know I knelt during the Pledge of Allegiance at the inauguration. I did so because I can not say “with liberty and justice for all” while that is not true in our country. People of color throughout our nation do not experience the same rights and privileges as white Americans. From the disproportionate punishment young children experience in schools to the disproportionate arrests, convictions, and sentences adults receive in the criminal justice system, people of color live with discrimination and persecution that people who are white do not experience.
With the holiday season under way, as we prepare for joyful celebrations with family and friends, the Watertown Youth Coalition (WYC) partner agencies, Wayside Multi, and the Watertown Police, Schools and Health Departments would like to remind all adults to pay special attention and help continue to prevent teens from drinking alcohol. Teen alcohol use can lead to unsafe behaviors that put their health and safety at-risk. Underage drinking affects everyone in the community and if we work together we can continue to ensure the healthy and safe development of our youth. After all, every year a teen does not use alcohol, the odds of lifelong dependence decrease by 15%. In 2017, the Watertown Youth Coalition administered the biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) to Watertown High and Middle School students.