BPS to reconsider elementary start times

Faced with angry parents and city councilors, School Superintendent Tommy Chang announced today he and his staff are going to be doing some hard thinking over the next few weeks about what time elementary schools will start next year.

Although he remains committed to trying to get elementary students to school earlier and high-school kids to school later:

BPS is committed to addressing the input we’ve received and trying to find solutions to concerns that have been raised. Schedules will be finalized in mid-January. BPS hopes this additional time will allow the district to work through issues that have been shared regarding start and end times. In order to do this, we need your help. We ask that you join us at one of 10 meetings we are holding next week. We look forward to discussing constructive solutions with our school communities.

Chang wrote the School Committee would take up the scheduling issue again on Jan. 10. He added:

Families who are making enrollment decisions for next year will be able to register for schools when the Priority Registration Period begins on January 3. If any adjustments to bell times are made to schools chosen by families during this period, they will have the opportunity to amend their choices within the Priority Registration Period, which will end on Friday, February 9.

Two-alarm fire at South Boston project injures firefighter

The Boston Fire Department reports firefighters responded around 4:20 p.m. to 66 Orton Marotta Way in the West Broadway project for what turned into a two-alarm fire in a first-floor apartment.

No residents were injured, but one firefighter suffered a shoulder injury, the department says.

Six people were displaced and damage was estimated at $100,000. The cause is under investigation.

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 16:21

Duck boats to avoid intersection where one of their drivers hit and killed woman on scooter, at least in the summer

Boston Duck Tours, Ltd. has agreed to a series of changes in the way it operates its lumbering vehicles in exchange for not having to face criminal charges related to the death of a woman on a scooter last year, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports.

Among the steps: During the summer, it will keep its amphibious vehicles away from the intersection of Beacon and Charles streets, where Allison Warmuth, 28, died after being hit by one of them. Also, the driver of that vehicle can never get behind the wheel of a Boston Duck Boat again.

Other steps the company agreed to take, at least through 2022: Add a second employee to each tour to deliver the tour spiel drivers used to have to do, install cameras and proximity sensors on vehicles, and barring drivers who rack up two or more moving violations in any calendar year - or in the ten years before they fill out an employment form. Workers will also have to take annual safe driving courses.

The company also agreed to pay $5,000 to the non-profit LivableStreets Alliance.

In considering this resolution, [DA Dan] Conley said, prosecutors considered the relative strengths and weaknesses of evidence admissible at trial, the likelihood of success in light of other motor vehicle homicide prosecutions in Massachusetts, the maximum penalties of a $3,000 fine or house of corrections time available on conviction, the penalties actually imposed by judges in similar cases, and the prospective benefits of the safety and personnel policies the agreement would put in place.

Together, those factors weighed in favor of negotiation. If at any time before 2022 Boston Duck Tours Ltd. intentionally violates any substantive term of the agreement, however, Conley’s office maintains its authority to seek criminal charges.

First of the new Orange Line cars arrive in South Boston

Photo by MBTA.

The MBTA reports the first four new Orange Line cars from Chinese manufacturer CRRC arrived at the Conley Terminal in South Boston this morning, from where they will be transported to the Orange Line maintenance facility in Wellington for a year of testing and shakedown runs before they are put in service.

These cars were built in China. The remaining 148 cars will be assembled from Chinese components in a plant in Springfield and delivered, four every month if everything goes according to schedule, through 2022. The Springfield plant will also assemble new Red Line cars.

What the new cars will look like when not covered in plastic.

Wu vows to vote against school budget without changes in elementary start-time plan

City Councilor Michelle Wu (at large) vows she won't vote for a school budget that would go towards screwing families at elementary schools that would start so early:

It seems to me BPS is attempting to rein in transportation costs at the expense of working parents who will need to find child care & manage the physical/emotional toll of young kids subjected to 11-hour days.

We all understand that it may not be possible to tweak a single school’s schedule without impacting others’. It’d be impossible to achieve later high school starts & universal 8-8:30am elem school starts in a cost-neutral way. But we need transparency on what the trade offs are. How much extra in transportation costs if each school started at the time that its families rated as ideal? What about w staggered times between 8-9am? ...

We need solid information on the costs and real discussion about trade offs before any plan should be implemented. There is certainly not enough time for that before the 2018-2019 lottery starts January 3rd.

Whenever govt is looking to make changes that would be hugely disruptive for so many residents who are too busy to be full-time advocates, we must have more time to receive & incorporate feedback. 4 weeks spanning the holidays is not acceptable.

So let’s halt implementation of any changes & properly reconsider — not just algorithms but real families & school communities.

Huntington Theatre tower gets approval

WBUR reports the BPDA approved plans by a developer to put up a 32-story residential tower on the old BU Theatre property on Huntington Avenue.

The approval includes creation of new theater space in the tower for the Huntington Theatre Co., which would lease the space for $1 a year. The theater company now needs to raise roughly $70 million to outfit the space.

East Boston murder reverberates a world away

Duncan Ketter, who officials say died in a holdup inside an SUV in East Boston, was born in Kenya, where his mother and other family members still live. A Kenyan newspaper talks to his sister:

“We were informed that my brother was home from church on Sunday when a girlfriend asked him out. He stepped outside his house to meet her so they could hang out with two other male friends who were in a car,” narrates the sister who believes it was a setup.