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Letter: School Committee Member Is Dishonest

A Winchester parent says a School Committee member said she did not know about a certain problem with the redistricting.

Dear Editor,

During tonight's School Committee meeting, members present discussed the redistricting mistake on Map 1 that was recently acknowledged by the Superintendent for a portion of Washington Street.

Cindy Bohne clearly stated during this discussion that tonight was the first time this situation (the mistake between Oak and Westley) was brought to her attention.

The emails below between myself and Cindy clearly indicate otherwise.  The email exchange documented here clearly shows that Cindy absolutely and unequivocally knew about this situation- she asked many questions in return, included a map of this area with the houses circled and even claimed to have driven around this area "to understand the dynamics."

Request sent to School Committee on Oct. 17:

Dear Superintendent McAlduff, Winchester School Committee and the RAC,

As you are well aware, the residents on Washington Street have been on highalert for many months about how the RAC is planning to redistrict ourneighborhood. Our fears have been confirmed with both Scenarios 1 and 2 on thenewly released maps.

For Scenario 1, the map shows that for the block between Westly and Oak, fourhouses are assigned to Muraco and two houses to Lynch.

For Scenario 2, four houses out of the six on the block (one side ofWashington Street) between Westly and Oak will be assigned to Lincoln and two toLynch. And directly to the left (same side of the street of Washington Street),on the block between Nelson and Westly, three houses are assigned to Lynch.   

For Scenario 3, those same four houses mentioned are assigned to Muracowhile the remainder of homes on the block is assigned to Lincoln. 

Could a rationale for this dissection be that these homes have no schoolage children? Or that one of those homes is part of the Winchester AffordableHousing Program?  What happens if several children move into those 4houses in the very near future?

Not only do these proposed district lines destroy a neighborhood, theyslice and dice 9 houses, separating us from our neighbors in the townhousesdirectly across the street.  The RACclearly communicated that isolating neighborhoods would not happen, and yet ithas.

Why do these redistricting proposals anger and frustrate Washington-arearesidents? Surely you know by now that two of the plans mentioned force five ofthe affected houses on this small 2-block side of Washington Street tolose their short walk to Lincoln School. Increasing the walk to school from aquarter mile to 1.8+ miles will not be safe and heightens the chance ofpedestrian accidents, especially in the snow. 

Finally, surely the decision makers must recognize that these affectedfamilies are the exact families that purchased homes for walkability, paidextra for them, desired that feature and settled for less of a home for thebenefit of walkability! We are either 0.4 or 0.5 miles away from TWO ElementarySchools. We are the only part of town that can claim this!

To address these problems, we firmly request that you re-evaluate thescenarios with a mind to preserving neighborhood cohesiveness; safe, manageablewalks to school and pedestrian lifestyles in general.

In short, why in the world in this age of climate change would you advocatefor putting more cars on Winchester roads? Please draw your redistricting linesto keep the walkers walking!

Sincerely,

Sally Ann H. McCarthy and Barry D. McCarthy

Response from School Committee on Oct. 20:

Sally and Barry, I apologize for the delay, but we have been focused on all of the multitude of plans in their entirety … I appreciate that you have sent a couple emails on this but, can you please for an old girl:1)      Point out where you live on the map below….  Is it the pink block with a green dot drawn in blue???2)      Your street address is on Washington, right? So your front door faces Washington, right?3)      Are you asking that these four houses not be redistricted  as it appears that they aren’t?4)      or Are you asking that they be redistricted so that you won’t be separated from them, even though you state that they currently do not have children? 

Thanks – Cindy Bohne

Reply to School Committee on Oct. 20:

Dear Cindy,
No worries.  We appreciate that you are responding!
Answers to your questions:
1) Yes our address is the 244-246 Condex
2) Yes- Our address is the 244-246 Condex
3) Don't know
4) Don't know - But I do know those homes could have children living in them in the very near future. I just care to stay in Lincoln ( best option) or move to Muraco (acceptable option). We can't move to Lynch!!!! We are either 0.4 to Muraco or 0.5 miles away from  Lincoln. We are the only part of town that can claim this!
 Also, so you can understand our neighborhood better, behind our condex and the entire block of (Westly and Oak) is the  Adult Only Housing Authority (which BTW years ago was the old Lincoln School) and the Black Horse Tavern Barn area. Our block on Washington  Street (Westly and Oak) is directly across the street from the #247 Townhouses.  These homes and what is to the side of each address (Nelson Street to Oak Street) and across the street (Eaton Street to Hancock Street) constitutes our neighborhood.  In all the proposed Map Plans, districts lines destroy our neighborhood, they slice and dice 9 houses (Nelson to Oak) and also separate us from our neighbors across the street in the Townhouses.
Since all these new proposed maps do not solve the problem and are breaking up neighborhoods, please take the opportunity to improve the system to manage overcrowding in schools more efficiently and effectively and make a positive effect on this community.  Please choose ALO or KG Flex, or a Hybrid of the two.  I am very happy to volunteer my services to help implement any Alternative Plan.

Sincerely,
Sally Ann H. and Barry D. McCarthy

Response from School Committee on Oct. 20:

Thanks for your response. 
I drove over there today so I understand the dynamics. I appreciate your concerns and those of your neighbors. I wish the over crowding was not most evident at Lincoln and muraco. 
I'll pass on your wishes. 

Cindy Bohne

How can we ever trust Cindy Bohne to represent this town as a School Committee member when she is clearly and openly dishonest with us all?  

Sincerely,

--Sally Ann Handelsman McCarthy

Washington Street

Michael R. November 25, 2012 at 08:48 PM
The redistricting process never affected me but after reading the letters and comments this past week I was intrigued to do some research. All I can say is thank you Sally Ann! You’ve alerted me to the fact that I need to pay much closer attention to whom we elect in any town official position and to always pay close attention to the decisions that they're making for Winchester. It appears that you and your neighbors tried endlessly to work with the SC and the RAC this past year and they in turn left your neighborhood an absolute mess! Your neighborhood is within a half mile or less of 2 elementary schools but they are now going to send your section of town to an elementary school just under 2 miles away? There is absolutely no logic to this recommendation. I’m sorry Ms. McCarthy for the unfortunate non-logical outcome. However, I’m so impressed with your bravery and ethics. Please run for School Committee in the next election. (Paper work needs to be submitted soon). I believe you to be a trustworthy resident concerned with the entire town of Winchester not just your own personal interest and those of your friends. We need people like you on the School Committee. I will be happy and proud to campaign for you! Micheal R.
Salma November 25, 2012 at 10:30 PM
Michael, I really appreciate you took the time to look for what had happened the last 6 months. I am Sally's neighbor and our neighborhood DID work endlessly and seamlessly to maintain the integrity of our neighborhood and to offer better, more sustainable alternatives to the plans they had. We spent HOURS and HOURS of work - probably more than the RAC and SC together. But alas in the end our voices were not heard. The only silver lining is that we made good, true friends! After our hard work, the SC members indicated to us that they were not ready to change the culture of redistricting in Winchester. I wish I knew that from the beginning, then I would not have invested all this time to truly find a better solution that is sustainable, fair and equitable. If indeed they just wanted to focus on a map plan, they should have just told us that from the beginning and we would have worked with them on a more equitable and transparent map. We were denied data that the RAC had access to in order to propose different scenarios. When we asked them questions about the possibility of subjectively selecting certain neighborhoods, they did not have any justification to their selection. The irony is that they voted on map 1 that they never discussed in public. Map 1 was proven to have many flaws after the vote, including the "technical mistakes" about the 4 houses in Washington. Are there other mistakes that they ignored? We need more answers to accept their decision and move on!!
Mr. Winchester December 10, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Sally Ann, I'm so proud of you for writing this letter! The town of Winchester is forever grateful!
Pats December 10, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Ha ha ha ha ha. That is so funny, Mr. Winchester. You are proud of someone for embarrassing herself by making untruths? By fomenting lies? I just feel sorry for Sally Ann McCarthy.

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