NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 20, 2013

Snow day spells delay for school budget hearing

Amesbury City Notebook
Mac Cerullo

---- — Last night, the School Committee was supposed to unveil the budget for the upcoming school year, but yesterday’s late-season snowstorm closed the schools and consequently postponed the meeting.

It’s probably not often that school board members get a snow day like the kids, but unlike students, who have to make up their snow days at the end of the school year, the school officials will be back to work tomorrow night. The committee will meet at 7 p.m. in the Amesbury High School library to address the budget and a number of other issues.

Beyond the budget, the committee will also discuss a range of policy measures related to drug and alcohol use by students, teen dating violence, student discipline and physical restraint of students. The committee is also expected to set the school calendar for the upcoming year.

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This is probably the last thing any of you want to hear me say right now, but if you have sidewalks out in front of your house covered in snow, you should probably get out and shovel them.

Mayor Thatcher Kezer is reminding residents to adhere to city snow ordinances by keeping sidewalks clear during and after snowstorms so that pedestrians can safely move about without having to walk in the road.

Kezer said the city clears the sidewalks downtown and along routes children take as they walk to school for safety reasons, but it’s up to residents to take care of the area in front of their homes.

“It’s a safety thing because if you’ve got snow piled up, the cars get tighter and tighter, and then we can’t get public safety vehicles moving in and out of the area,” Kezer said. “We’re focused on primarily getting kids safely to and from school, but outside of that, it’s up to residents to keep their sidewalks clear.”

Residents are also being encouraged to help friends or neighbors who aren’t able to clear their sidewalks on their own, whether because of old age, disability or some other reason.

“As far as enforcement, if folks intentionally block the sidewalks, like a lot of people have contractors who will plow their driveways and stack it all up into the sidewalks where it’s too much to shovel, we’ll knock on doors there,” Kezer said. “Those are the kind of cases where we do enforcement when it’s significant, but for the most part, we want to educate residents so they can keep up with their sidewalks.”

Kezer added that sidewalks are a problem during every snowstorm and he hopes residents do their part by staying on top of it going forward.

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The Amesbury Relay for Life will kick off its new season with an ice cream social tonight from 6 to 8 in the Amesbury High School cafeteria. The event will include entertainment, prizes and ice cream.

Organizers are encouraging relay teams to start forming soon so fundraising can begin. Teams can represent businesses, civic groups, public agencies, families or friends.

The 2013 Amesbury Relay for Life will be held at Landry Stadium on Aug. 17-18. This will be the 11th annual Relay in Amesbury; the previous 10 have raised a total of $820,000. More information can be found at www.relayforlife.org/amesburyma.

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One last thing: I’m a huge fan of AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead,” and of zombies in general, so I don’t think I need to explain why I got a kick out of the news that Amesbury Middle School’s upcoming play will be a production of “Pom Pom Zombies.”

Just listen to the description: The play takes place in the 1960s and, according to teacher Gale Regis, revolves around a summer vacation gone horribly wrong after a local high school’s lead cheerleader accidentally gets some nuclear slime on her hot dog.

Before long, the beach is overrun with zombies wielding pom-poms, and it’s up to the cheerleader’s All-American boyfriend and an unexpected coalition of beatniks, nerds and tough girls to fight back, Regis said.

I think I can say with certainty that this is the single most bizarre premise for a middle school play I’ve ever heard of, and possibly the most awesome. The show will open on Thursday, April 4, at 6 p.m., with additional performances on April 5 and 6 at 7 p.m.

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The following meetings are scheduled this week and are open to the public:

Thursday

School Committee Personnel Subcommittee, 6 p.m., Amesbury High School, Highland Street

School Committee budget hearing, 7 p.m., Amesbury High School library

Monday

Planning Board, 7 p.m., City Hall auditorium, Friend Street

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Mac Cerullo covers Amesbury for The Daily News. He can be reached at 978-462-6666, ext. 3238 or by email at mcerullo@newburyportnews.com. Follow Mac on Twitter at @MacCerullo.