Belmont selectmen say Shaker school officials uncooperative

BELMONT – The Board of Selectmen put Shaker School District officials on notice Monday that they want the district to be more accommodating to the town Recreation Department's wish for greater access to school athletic facilities.
The comments came during Monday's selectmen's meeting when Shaker Superintendent Maria Dreyer was asked whether the Recreation Department could have more time to use the district's playing fields and the Belmont Middle School gymnasium so the department could expand its soccer and basketball programs as well as its summer camp.
Dreyer responded to the request from Recreation Director Janet Breton, saying the extended use could present some logistical problems. She cited the need to refinish the gymnasium floor prior to the start of school year and that allowing the summer camp to run a half-hour longer would require that the head building maintenance person stay later in order to activate the Middle School security alarms. Dreyer also indicated that letting the summer program conclude later in the summer would interfere with teachers who return in August to set up their classrooms.
Dreyer's explanation prompted sharp responses from board Chairman Ron Cormier and Selectman Jon Pike.
Pike said the school system was showing a complete lack of cooperation.
"I'm looking for a little give and take and I'm not seeing it," he said.
Cormier echoed the sentiment, saying: "It's like a broken record. Every time we ask, (the answer) is always no. This board is tired of no."
Pike said part of the problem is that school recreation facilities are often booked for extended periods of time for groups who oftentimes use the facility for just a fraction of the time they reserved. The result, said Pike, is that other groups or organizations that want to use the facilities cannot do so. He blamed much of the lack of cooperation on School District Buildings and Grounds Director Doug Ellis and Athletic Director Rick Acquilano.
Breton told the selectmen she believed the school systems needed a better policy on which non-school groups or organizations get preference when it comes to using school facilities.
Dreyer said she would consult with the Shaker School Board on the issue and that she was willing to have further talks with town officials on the matter, but noted that she was also concerned that Recreation Department might be duplicating what the schools were already doing through their athletic programs.
In other business, the selectmen met with members of the town's Heritage Commission regarding the need to move the town's historic bandstand as part of the $2 million village revitalization project which is now under way. Commission Chairman Linda Frawley said the commissioners hoped the bandstand, built in 1908 could be moved to a location closer to the former Northway Bank building the town now owns. She hoped commission members could meet sometime this week with the engineer and the contractor for the revitalization project to stake out a precise location.
School Board member Donna Cilley told the board that selectmen would be getting a petition in about two weeks seeking that the old bank building be torn down.
Cormier said a decision on the bandstand placement needed to be made soon. "We don't want to hold up a two-million-dollar project," he said.
NOTES: Selectmen approved the promotion of police Cpl. Adam Hawkins to sergeant effective May 1. . . Town Administrator Jeanne Beaudin said she had been in touch with representatives of Lakes Region Public Access and the Huot Regional Technical Education Center in hopes of finding volunteers to record the selectmen's meeting for showing on the public access channel, but so far no one has come forward.