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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

John November 14, 2012 at 04:40 PM
I would suggest that people who find this offensive read everything in detail and get the full picture before reacting with emotion. I believe this is still a democracy where people can share opinions publicly without being called an embarassment. Become informed, it's the better way to live.
John November 14, 2012 at 04:42 PM
And, Winchester would be an embarrassment if people didn't stick up for themselves and the community interests. Sally cares deeply, agree with her or not!
concerned for the children November 14, 2012 at 05:24 PM
The point Sally is trying to make is that we have been potentially misled by Ms. Bohne for months and this is just an example. At the School Committee meeting last night she made it sound like the recent letters were the first time they have heard about this issue. When, in fact, it was brought up at the RAC public hearing in October. The woman who asked the question was advised by RAC representative that this was not a mistake and that those 4 properties were colored correctly. Sally emailed the School Committee several times before she finally received a response from Ms. Bohne who, in October, said she would drive around the neighborhood and assess the situation. She too did not see it as a mistake or she would have addressed this issue (at least I would have hoped that she would have addressed the issue) before the final vote was taken It's been a frustrating and flawed process from the start.
Matt Gordon November 14, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I know that Cindy Bohne worked hard over the past 12+ months to find the redistricting answer that made the most sense for our children and I stand behind the decision made by 4 of 5 School Committee members. Cindy and Michael had the hardest jobs since they sat on both the School Committee and RAC. I am disappointed with the way that Mrs. McCarthy has chosen to communicate this with a negative, accusatory and personal tone that was not needed for this type of public discourse. I believe that in the end this will only hurt her neighborhood's case unfortunately. There are more effective and ethical ways to handle these type of difficult situations than to share detailed personal email exchanges in a town-wide news blog. I would hope Mrs. McCarthy would first pursue it multiple times directly with Cindy, then next multiple times directly with the Superintendent and then finally with her town selectmen. Her public communication tactics are low brow and hurtful to Winchester as a whole. We are a friendlier and classier town than this. There was not going to be a redistricting choice that was going to satisfy everyone. I am guessing that the Superintendent may listen to Sally's concerns and be able to address them, but not until some time passes first from the recent redistricting decision. He has to be careful because he knows that if he makes exceptions in one neighborhood that he will need to be prepared to do the same elsewhere or justify why not.
OldTownie November 14, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I do not think that emails to and from individuals pertaining to their work for a government should be considered, 'personal email'.
Suburbanmama November 14, 2012 at 06:59 PM
If you look at the new map, there is a strange area where 4 houses are "cut out" of one block and redistricted from Lincoln to Muraco while the other 3 houses on the exact same block (on the same side of the road, no cross streets) are redistricted from Lincoln to Lynch. It looks like a computer mistake and maybe all those houses were supposed to be Muraco (with their neighbors across the street) or Lynch (with the neighbors behind them). Hopefully the School Committee can fix this with an amendment and make a decision to send the entire block to either Lynch or Muraco. Redistricting is over, but if a mistake was made (which from the look of squiggle on the map seems likely) the School Committee needs to own up and make the map consistent for families in this area. I agree that everyone involved has put hours of work into this and we need to be civil to each other and move on!
Lindsey Davidson (Editor) November 14, 2012 at 07:13 PM
You can find a response from Cindy Bohne here: http://patch.com/A-z54z
Cindy Bohne November 14, 2012 at 07:14 PM
What I believe we need as a community right now is graciousness and leaders that are courageous enough to weigh all of the information available and make decisions with clarity of purpose. As a School Ctee member I strive to help fulfill our educational mission with or without outside support or acknowledgement. I strive to listen with kindness, but to also disagree and make decisions with students and teachers my absolute priority. Ms. McCarthy, I respect your passion and service as an advocate for your neighborhood. I always favor anger to indifference. However, I take exception to your choice to share your criticisms publicly before approaching me for clarity. In regard to your criticisms, there was a context to the conversation on Tuesday evening. My remarks were taken out of that context, and the intentions of my comments were misrepresented in your letter. Last night was the first opportunity for the School Committee to hear of the technical issues regarding the four homes at Washington Street. It was not the first time “I” had been made aware of the concern. It was the first time “we” as a School Committee had learned of this detail as a policy body. As we move forward, I ask you and all of our neighbors to care about how we are doing our jobs. Keep driving us forward to ensure all of our schools are exceptional, all of our students successful. I’m not embarrassed to care, and I’m glad you aren’t either. Respectfully, Cindy Bohne
Winchester Parent November 14, 2012 at 07:27 PM
What an immature tactic Mrs. McCarthy has chosen to employ. It speaks volumes about her personal integrity. She should read the WPS Anti-Bullying Policies when she is finished with her personal and public attacks. She might learn something.
Winchester Parent November 14, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Caring deeply should always be applauded! Approaching a problem (real or perceived) like an adult is commendable. Lashing out like a toddler whose cookie got taken away is an embarassment.
julie piantedosi November 14, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Why the personal attack on Cindy Bohne? Cindy is one of the best and brightest and Winchester is lucky she is involved. This letter is a juvenile and immature way to air grievances.
Marsha November 14, 2012 at 09:16 PM
I am Sally’s neighbor and support her in her comments one hundred percent. Our neighborhood has continued to be frustrated with the entire redistricting process and Cindy’s comment last night was essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back. While I can’t give an exact quote without the Win Cam video tapes, many in attendance at the SC meeting last night and watching at home were shocked when Cindy alluded to the fact that this was the first time she was hearing of the Washington Street situation. I was the one who received an email from Supt McAlduff indicating that there was a mistake on Map 1 for the block between Oak and Westley Streets- I passed this information along to Sally. That is why the school committee discussed it last night. By posting the email exchange, Sally simply wanted to provide the evidence that Cindy did truly know about this situation for quite some time now. We understand that Cindy received hundreds of emails- yet this was not an issue that was asked about only one time. I wrote numerous letters, as did other neighbors and it was also questioned during one of the Public comments. Would you not be upset and want more direct answers if your children were being redistricted and isolated from their neighbors and friends- all because of a potential mistake on the map? We were simply asking for answers and once again felt betrayed by our school committee.
Salma November 14, 2012 at 10:05 PM
For people who spoke negatively about Sally, I urge you to read facts about what had happened in the last 6 months. I have all the respect for all people who volunteer their time to help this community. The SC members and the Sup spent hours on redistricting this summer and we are grateful to them. However our neighborhood strongly believes that the process was faulty and unfair. We worked very hard this summer to find better solution to a map plan that is not sustainable and we did with the KGF plan. We felt that the SC and the Sup were sincerely trying to find this better solution and we trusted them. However, on Nov 5th it was clear to all of us that the decision was already made back in June. There was no discussion about the difference between map 1 and map 2 except for the numbers worked for map 1. These maps were rushed! We know that numbers can work if you want them to work. We inquired about rationale why certain neighborhoods were subjectively selected vs others but there was never an answer to that. We asked why there were 4 houses on Washington streets that were oddly left alone. Sally, Marsha and other neighbors repeatedly asked questions about these 4 houses. Therefore, during yesterday's SC meeting, when the Sup and Cindy indicated that this is the first time they paid close attention to these 4 houses, it was a BIG shock to all of us. So, Sally's reply was a pure sign of frustration. I hope this will put some perspective to what triggered Sally's letter.
julie piantedosi November 14, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Salma, I know I was reacting to the personal attack on Cindy Bohne, and certainly not to anyone's frustration with town issues. I support, of course, speaking up and ensuring your voice is heard. It was the disturbing characterization of Cindy that I was reacting to and I believe there must be more reasonable ways to convey what for you and your neighborhood must be a very frustrating situation, I feel it is just unfair to vilify someone in the process.
Salma November 14, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Thanks Julie for your reply. I truly believe if you were not directly affected by redistricting, then you would not appreciate the frustration families in our neighborhood had experienced over the last 6 months. People have different ways of expressing such frustration and I cannot judge what is right or wrong in this case. My hope is that the community will help us with a smooth transition and I advise people who are not affected to stop making statements like "we will all be affected" or "we do not want to hear about redistributing anymore". This does not help at all.
Salma November 15, 2012 at 12:10 AM
I read Ms Bohne's letter and now I have more questions. So, if it is true that this is the first time the maps are discussed among all the SC members, then why the other SC members who were not involved with the RAC and are not familiar with these maps voted for map 1. Clearly this shows that they did not study the maps before the vote and this is the frustrating part???
Pats November 15, 2012 at 06:44 AM
Salma, four SC members vote for Map 1 and you conclude "this clearly shows that they did not study the maps". I don't follow the logic. Seems that shows there might have been an advantage to Map 1. The most RAC members voted for Map 1 as well.
Pats November 15, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Agreed that the community should help with a smooth transition.
Salma November 15, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Pats, Sorry for not providing you with the logic here. I know so much about redistricting that I assume everyone knows the details and it is my fault here. I will try to explain my point better and I hope this time it will be clear to you. On Nov 5th, Mr. Nixon tried to have a conversation with the other SC members about why not map 2 but this happened after Mrs. Bohne put a motion to vote on map 1, too late unfortunately due to this faulty process. I can assure you that Mr. Nixon did an excellent job over the summer by revising the capacity for each school. His comments on all maps presented so far by the RAC indicates that he did his homework to study these maps. The reason, in my mind, 4 to 1 SC members voted for map 1 is because of the following reasons: 1- Mr. Schindelman and Mrs. Bohne voted for map 1 because they created the map plans. I respect all the work they put as RAC members and SC members. However, I see an inherent conflict of interest in this case. 1- Mr. Linskey and Mrs. Swiger never commented in public about map 1 vs map 2. How do I know that they studied these two maps? Based on SC meetings and letters we sent concerning specific mistakes the maps presented by the RAC had, we never heard them talk and answer questions related to this topic. That is why I question the sincere outcome/vote on Nov 5th. I have worked very closely with Mrs. Bohne and we do have a lot of respect for each other but we both know that we disagree on the decision made on Nov 5.
Stacey Irizarry November 15, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Even after checking out the redistricting website, its still not clear which map is now the final map? Could someone clearly point out which map is the "final" map?
BAV November 15, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Scenario Map 1. (http://www.winchesterredistricting.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Scenario-11.pdf) A list of street addresses is also available by school and by name. (http://www.winchesterredistricting.com)
Abraham November 15, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Wow, what a cock-up. No accountability anywhere. McAlduff and the School Committee ought to resign. Kudos to Sally for exposing the lies.
Townie November 15, 2012 at 03:54 PM
She did present evidence...that the School Committee/Ms. Bohne were fully engaged, responsive, and trying to find the best solution to a difficult situation. No solution is perfect. While alternate solutions may have looked good, there were practical and/or educational reasons why they were less desirable in the long run for our children. I think the school committee was open about these concerns as they vetted the different options. I for one appreciate that the school committee put in countless hours on this, even taking the process into the Fall to ensure they had looked at all possible ideas for redistricting. How about if we take all of the efforts put forth here and redirect them toward helping ensure a great transition for all of our children?
HRD November 15, 2012 at 04:02 PM
No one is suggesting Sally should not voice her opinions, but not in this way. Calling names is no way to resolve issues, especially in a public forum. It is unfortunate that many families will be affected by the redistricting, however, it needs to be done to accommodate the increased number of children in our schools. It is certainly not going to please everyone. I believe it is in the best interest of all, especially as an example to our children, to recognize that people aren't always pleased with decisions that are made, but working together to resolve matters is the best way - not with name calling and slandering others. I support EVERY member of the school committee in the very difficult task they have undertaken and appreciate their efforts, whether I agree or not.
Jenn Cafarella November 16, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Frustrating is what this process been from the start! It started with the surprise of hybrid Map Z that was never discussed in a public forum, to being told this was a "done deal" before the public hearing on June 4 and finally ending with the decision to approve a map redistricting plan. It's been a smoke screen since June 7th to show the public that the School Committee has done their due diligence. What they did was falsely lead people to believe that there was a chance that an alternative plan was an option. Residents spent their summer working on a plan that the Superintendent said was his preference. All of the efforts fell on deaf ears because, in the end, all the School Committee did was vote in a modified version of Map Z. I know Sally and this is not the first time she has tried to communicate with the School Committee and the Superintendent. I know I sent many emails and spoke at public hearings and never had any of my questions answered. The Woburn Daily Times has an article in their paper today about the meeting on Tuesday night. If the reporter remembers this issue being brought up at a public hearing, how come the School Committee did nothing about it? I would like to second Salma's motion to stop saying "we are all impacted" and "let's move on". For some of us, this will impact us for years. Using these phrases just frustrates us more!
Ed bull November 17, 2012 at 03:04 AM
From an objective perspective, and from a Winchester resident without a horse in the redistricing horse race, I believe Ms.Bohne acted more in the interest of her ego than in support of keeping the school system equitable. Her reactive 'mea culpa' was more about maintaining her social status than addressing the issue with which she clearly did not do her required due diligence as a school committee member. Ms. Bohne, your community asks more of you..........
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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