JEERS to making people wait.
About 50 parents turned up at the Andover School Committee meeting before Thanksgiving to voice their opinions — mostly displeasure — at the thought of changing the school day schedule.
Among the ideas under study is starting the town’s elementary school day earlier, giving rest-needy teenagers more time in the morning to sleep. Bus schedules at the elementary level are tied to those of the high school, so the schedule of one must be coordinated with the other.
The proposed change reflects growing research into teens’ sleep habits and the consequences of forcing them to rise early. But it’s not exactly warmly received by parents of younger kids, who are reasonably worried about their elementary-age students standing at bus stops in the dark for much of the year.
The School Committee that Thursday night heard a presentation about Andover’s schedule and its options, moving it up in the evening’s agenda to accommodate a consultant’s schedule. But, instead of hearing out the public’s commentary at that point — which had clearly attracted most of the people in the room to the meeting — the School Committee waited until later in the evening, at the predetermined spot on the agenda, to hear the parents’ feedback.
For the parents, the difference meant a wait of a couple of hours.
It’s not uncommon for a public boards or commissions to shuffle an agenda to accommodate a crowd, especially when a single presentation or discussion turns what’s usually a lightly attended meeting into a jam-packed room. The School Committee didn’t do that, however. And it clearly wasn’t fixated on its agenda that Thursday, either, in light of its willingness to accommodate the consultant.
Perhaps the committee members, who’ve been working on this issue for some time, weren’t interested in deferring to parents who’ve come to this topic only recently. If that was the reason, the people deserve better from their School Committee.
Either way, parents shouldn’t have been made to wait. One later complained about rude treatment by the committee.
It seems she was right.
CHEERS to what hopefully will be the last gas work in the area for a while.
Columbia Gas announced last week that it’s finished inspecting 2,000 out-of-service lines that once connected homes, businesses and other buildings to the natural gas network in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover.
This came after inspections of some 2,900 lines ordered by the state Department of Public Utilities. Through it all, the company was looking for old lines that were properly capped in accordance with state regulations when it replaced 43 1/2 miles of new gas main lines and another 5,086 service lines following the September 2018 gas disaster.
The three rounds of inspections — two ordered by the state, one initiated by Columbia Gas itself — turned up some 929 lines that needed attention, staff writer Bill Kirk reported. That represents slightly less than 1 in 5 surveyed.
The need for inspections in the first place rankled many, pointing out yet another problem associated with the gas company since the Sept. 13, 2018 gas fires and explosions in the region.
A gas leak around the anniversary of the disaster, forcing the evacuation of a south Lawrence neighborhood, prompted state officials to require the utility to revisit its work.
With the inspections done, the communities should be able to look toward repairing and repaving the roads.
In Andover, where that process is expected to last three years, Town Manager Andrew Flanagan told Kirk the town and its residents will not tolerate further delays.
Let’s hope Flanagan and the rest of us don’t have to confront any.
And, like Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera, we’ll look forward to a report from state regulators about Columbia Gas’ work leading up to the gas disaster, and its efforts since.
In the meantime, we can be thankful there’s no more construction happening in the streets.