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Newton School Committee fines Fleishman, here’s the statement

2014 July 24
by Gail Spector

Statement from School Committee on Fleishman graduation speech:

July 24, 2014

The Newton School Committee has discussed the recent issue regarding Superintendent Fleishman’s high school graduation speeches.  We have accepted the Superintendent’s acknowledgment to us and have determined that the appropriate action is that he be fined one week of salary.

We first became aware of the issue on June 27.  The School Committee and its Chair had several calls and meetings with the Superintendent and met in Executive Session in June and July.  We agreed with Superintendent Fleishman’s acknowledgment as to what, in retrospect, he should have done, and we determined an appropriate action.

David Fleishman has had a strong career as an educational leader, and we have seen exceptional growth and progress in our schools during his four years as Newtonís superintendent.  We are eager to move forward with David as the superintendent of the Newton Public Schools, and we look forward to many more years of working together.  We have many important opportunities and serious challenges ahead, and we are confident that David is the right leader to continue moving our system forward.

Newton School Committee

Matt Hills, Chair

Margie Ross Decter, Vice-Chair

Ellen Gibson

Margaret Albright

Angela Pitter Wright

Diana Fisher Gomberg

Steve Siegel

Ruth Goldman

Statement from David Fleishman

2014 July 24
by Gail Spector

Superintendent David Fleishman released the following statement this afternoon about the Lion’s Roar’s suggestion that he plagiarized Governor Deval Patrick during his graduation speech to Newton South High School:

July 24, 2014

As someone who writes a range of pieces that are distributed to the broader public on a regular basis, I am well aware of the importance of citing appropriate sources. ~I am also cognizant of the notion that public officials need to be as careful in their spoken remarks as they are in their written remarks-something that too often gets lost. ~ The recent article in the Lion’s Roar is an invaluable reminder of the importance of doing so and I am appreciative of their work in highlighting this issue.

In retrospect, I should have cited the Governor in my remarks as I did David McCullough Jr. ~In my judgment, it is essential that public officials not only accept critical feedback but acknowledge when we have made mistakes. ~Because I believe in accountability and transparency, I have requested that some type of action be taken by the School Committee and it be made public.

David Fleishman

Superintendent of Schools


Lions Roar questions originality of Superintendent Fleishman’s commencement speech

2014 July 23

If you have trouble reading the document below, try this link.

Videos from the two events are on the jump. read more…

Quigley wants to put land sale and 40B on ballot

2014 July 23
by Greg Reibman

Sarah Quigley, one of the opponents of the Austin Street development is hoping to put two non-binding questions on the ballot this fall, Jenna Fisher from the Newton TAB reports.

But why wait until November? Here’s your chance to vote here.

Question 1

Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote for legislation to require that a majority of the voters in a municipality approve the sale of any municipally owned real estate containing more than 7,500 square feet of land?

Question 2

Shall the state representative from this district be instructed to vote for legislation that would allow elected officials, in communities that have taken steps to promote affordable housing at a local level, to have binding input regarding density, required parking, and other project characteristics to the extent that those changes would help to protect existing neighborhoods and businesses from negative impacts on infrastructure and public services, when a zoning board of appeals is deciding whether to approve an application for a comprehensive permit to build affordable housing in that locality under Chapter 40B of the General Laws?

Ward 5 leaders on why expanding Zervas is the right decision

2014 July 23
by Greg Reibman

Ward 5 Alderman John Rice and Ward 5 School Committee member Steve Siegel have co-written a column in today’s Newton TAB, explaining why they both favor expanding Zervas Elementary School, as opposed to adding a new school elsewhere.

A survey referenced in the June 25 Newton TAB expressed a preference for smaller schools closer to people’s homes. We’ve thought hard about this strategy. Many alternate sites were assessed for both the Angier and Zervas schools, but none were found to be feasible for a school project. We confirmed that Newton is a built-out city with almost no excess land available for development. Creating sites for more schools would be expensive. It would require assembling 3- to 4-acre parcels through open market purchases, eminent domain takings, or repurposing of other city land currently used for parks, recreation, or other operations. We have concluded that the logistical and financial trade-offs required to create multiple smaller schools across the city isn’t the best strategy given our current enrollment projections and resources.

Although I live close to Zervas, this is not an issue I’ve followed closely perhaps because I don’t have any elementary school age children.

But Rice and Siegel are thoughtful guys with great integrity and credibility.  On this issue,  I assume they’re staking out a position that’s not necessarily popular among many of their Ward 5 constituents and might even inspire someone to challenge them during the next election.

My inclination is to believe John and Steve and support this. Anyone care to explain why we should do otherwise?

Pops in the Park – Free this Sunday!

2014 July 22
by Kara Robbins

IMG_0261Hear the New Philharmonia Orchestra for free this Sunday, July 27 at 8pm as part of the Hyde Community Center’s new Sunday night summer performance series! The orchestra is pulling out all the stops for a really fun show. This terrific program includes:

Tributes to The Beatles, Leroy Anderson,
and baseball

Music from Frozen

Plus Pops favorites, patriotic all-stars, crowd sing-a-longs, and rockin’ musical surprises!

Newton North violinist Spencer Anderson will also appear with an encore of his winning performance of Bruch’s Violin Concerto!

Gather a blanket, a picnic, and friends for a perfect summer evening of live music under the stars – right in your backyard!

7:30pm – Instrument Petting Zoo
8:00pm – Concert

Rain or shine. More information online at

Pops in the Park Poster

More than one way to green the Austin Street parking lot

2014 July 22

The group Newton Villages Alliance has posted an open call for ideas for the Austin Street parking lot, all of which, so far, call for planting majestic trees and turning part of the lot in Newtonville into a park. (None of the proposals explain how the work will be financed. And it’s not clear if the group is screening ideas and only posting the ones that fit its[secret] steering committee’s vision.)

Meanwhile, former Newton gadfly (and I use the term in the most endearing way)
Anatol Zukerman returned to Newton to attend the most recent Austin Street and in a TAB column concludes ….

People see the skin of a large building but fail to see the life inside of it. People think that every building increases motorized traffic but fail to notice that it makes people work, shop and entertain within a walking distance. On the other hand, the asphalted parking lots like the one on Austin Street across from Shaw’s Market create toxic hot spots, but “people” don’t mind that. Any new structure with greenery would be better than that lot, but “people” don’t like new structures.

…..Most Newtonians want to preserve their style of life and resist other forms of habitat, but urban growth is also natural and it promises a better environment for everybody. People crave parks but modern buildings themselves can contain greenery and produce clean energy.

Have Mayor Warren read to your kids:

2014 July 22
by Andreae Downs

Green Planet Kids in Newton Highlands is back at being the best friend a parent could have.

Owner Annabelle Ship just sent this out:

Midsummer Night Pajama Party at Green Planet Kids. 
This Thursday, July 24th at 6:00 pm.
Come in your PJs to hear bedtime stories read by Mayor Setti Warren. This fun event is part of the Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge.
We will also have a guitarist leading Sleepytime Songs, and milk & cookies from Rosie’s Bakery.
BYOB – Bring Your Own Blanket.
Free, and fun for all ages. To reserve space for your family, please call (617) 332-7841.
Almost makes me want small children around again…

Would you pay money to see Newton politicans have ice water dumped on their heads?

2014 July 21
by Greg Reibman

Read about it (and watch more videos) on Buzzfeed.

Next Austin Street meeting on July 28

2014 July 21
by Village 14

The second input session for the Austin Street project will be held at the Newton North High School cafeteria next Monday, July 28 from 7-9 p.m.

This session will include a summary report of the input received at the firstcommunity input session as well as a presentation and discussion of the Greenman Pedersen Inc. (GPI) parking study conducted in the Newtonville village area.

Shakespeare tonight in Newton Highlands (for free)

2014 July 20
by Groot Gregory


Join your neighbors tonight at the first evening of Shakespeare in the Park. The New Rep’s Classic Repertory Company will be performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream from the Hyde Playground Bandstand. The performance starts at 8:00 PM. While the forecast predicts the weather will be fine for tonight’s outdoor event there is a plan in case of rain so don’t let today’s clouds dissuade you from stopping by.

I am personally looking forward to tonight to see how the play will be choreographed on the bandstand stage.


Telling Family Stories

2014 July 19
by Chris Steele

homebox_portfolio Just about all of us have boxes of old family photos or slides lying around. Over time, not only do the photos fade, but often we forget the stories behind the pictures. This is becoming even more of a concern in the digital age. Apparently, the great majority of photos shot never get downloaded from our phones or cameras.

One Upper Falls business started up to try to help families with exactly these issues. EverPresent – founded by Eric Niloff and his wife back in 2012 – has 30 employees who help people restore old photos, slides, and films, assemble and categorize digital snaps, and then curate these into meaningful collections. This may mean photo books and slide shows for specific events (weddings, bar mitzvahs, etc) or it may mean a cloud-based digital archives of photographs.

Eric and his wife stumbled into the business through their own experiences, working with a collection of more than 10,000 photographs he found at his 91-year-old grandfather’s home in Florida in 2009. The photos represented an incredible anthology of family history. There were photos of his grandfather serving in the Canadian military during World War II, photos of him at medical school, and photos of the hundreds oConsultf family gatherings that occurred in the decades following.

The company started in the former Needham Lock & Decorative Hardware space on Chestnut St in Newton Upper Falls and has now also grown to a new processing facility in Watertown.

As a sidelight to the profile above – and my own reason for wanting to write it – we recently did our own family history project because of just such boxes full of photos.

Retired five years ago, my father has been spending much of his time pouring over his parents’ and grandparents’ collections of photos, property deeds, family bibles, and the like to determine the family’s origins and story here in North America. He has now scanned dozens of photos and figured out who is in each.

He’s also traced the family back to Hendrick Kip who first came to North America in about 1637, part of the wave of Dutch settlers who came to a settlement known as Schraalenburgh in present-day Bergen County, NJ. (The settlement was part of the broader New Netherland colony in New York and New Jersey, all of which would be taken over by the English a few decades later.)

The exercise has brought many surprises (the surname “Steele” actually comes from an Irish ancestor – a link we didn’t know we had!), and each new document and photo is a story waiting to be told.