HARVARD -- Selectmen Monday night revisited last week's discussion of an agreement between the School Committee and the town that will allow the Cable Committee's plans to set up a TV studio at the Bromfield School to move forward.
Design plans for the studio -- slated to occupy unused space in the basement that will be renovated for the purpose -- have been presented, critiqued by town boards and aired in public.
Now, with the Harvard Cable Committee present and a multi-page memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the table that Chairwoman Lucy Wallace, ultimately, was authorized to sign, the board hashed out some sticking points -- one in particular.
In general, the MOU spells out the roles and responsibilities of the school district and the town in terms of the building's use for the Cable TV studio and lists measures to ensure student and staff safety. Specifically, selectmen's concern focused on a single interior door between the studio and the rest of the school.
"I believe you said last time that the door between the high school and the cable space would be locked ... with an alarm?" Wallace asked committee members.
That's correct, she was told, and apparently doing so won't violate building codes. Due to distances from exterior doors and proximity to the outside of the building, the conclusion the committee came to was that a second exit isn't required for occupancy in this case. Thus, a single primary point of egress is sufficient and the interior door can be locked, Selectman Bill Johnson said, and a letter to that effect has been submitted to the building inspector.
The MOU further states that the locked door is "subject to school policy," same as all other aspects of studio use by students and staff. With only a couple of keys, say for the principal and the custodian, the door will completely close off the TV studio from the rest of the school. And it won't have a crash bar, either, so nobody can enter the school that way, selectmen said.
So far, so good.
But Selectman Tim Clark, reading from the school's student handbook, raised an issue with wording that seemed cloudy to him. "Does this mean students who access the space during the day would sign in and out of the school?" he asked, as they do any other time when arriving late or leaving before the end of the school day.
The answer to that question was yes.
Do the same rules apply to visitors who come to the studio while school is in session? No, Johnson told Clark, since the studio space is "outside the perimeter of the school." The studio has its own sign-in sheet, however, to keep track of comings and goings and who's in the studio at all times, including two authorized adults with a minor child.
Basically, that makes it a 1,700-square foot-island, according to the MOU.
In that case, Clark asked if a certain "subject to school protocols" caveat should be stricken from the document.
Only when it applies, Johnson opined.
"This door will be like any (other) school door," he continued. That is, locked during the day and "100 percent controlled by school policy."
But Clark said the MOU was vague in that regard.
"It's not up to us to create a policy for that door," Johnson replied.
"So, by making this (studio) not part of the school, it's outside school policy?" Clark asked.
In effect, yes, Johnson said. "That's why the HCC has it's own safety policy and protocols."
The board had one last big question for the Cable Committee before wrapping up the discussion. They wanted to know about criminal records background checks: who is required to get them and who pays for it.
HCC policy states that there must be two adults present when working with kids (similar to soccer coaches) but they are not required to have CORI checks. The HCC director, however, must do so, and he has.
The question then became, what entity would do that and cover the cost?
The superintendent is responsible and the school district pays for it, School Committee member Keith Cheveralls said.
Finally, Clark asked if the HCC plans to provide a studio class for Bromfield students. The MOU doesn't say so, he said.
That's correct, he was told. For now, the issue is the studio move, with the intent to grow from there.
"I think it's great," Selectman Ron Ricci said.
In the end, selectmen agreed to accept the MOU and authorized Wallace to sign it.