A surrounding community agreement may be signed between the town and Plainridge Racecourse developer Penn National but that is not stopping one school committee member from seeing if the schools’ interests can be protected.
In recent weeks, school committee member Stephen Udden has asked if the Foxboro School Committee can be apart of the mitigation process but the possible venture into unknown territory has meant unanswered questions and some committee members wondering if the schools are even entitled to mitigation.
At the school committee’s Dec. 16 meeting, selectman John Gray said he would ask town attorney Dick Gellerman if input from the school committee would be valuable but Committee Chair Katie Adair said she has not heard any new information since last month's meeting.
With the agreement signed in late December, Udden has made no doubt of his desire to have representation for the schools in the discussions, noting the racino committee’s belief that 10 children could be added to the school system was the only school issues in the talks and was later rejected.
“I don’t have a problem with that being rejected, what I do have a problem with is that was not this board’s recommendation, that was the racino committee’s recommendation with citizens input,” Udden said.
Other members of the board did not share Udden’s desire to seek mitigation. According to business administrator Bill Yukna, the school system could absorb 50 students.
“You can’t ask for something you don’t need. If we have the capacity, we don’t need mitigation. I don’t see a need for it,” Committee member Tina Belanger said.
Beverly Lord also showed little interest in seeking mitigation, stating “I don’t see a need for us to stir up a can of worms. I don’t think we’re going to be affected by this.”
“I respectfully disagree,” Udden replied.
Lord added that she was not worried about an influx of students due to potential employees working for Plainridge moving into the area.
“The type of jobs the Racino is going to be offering are not highly skilled jobs that would permit people to come to Foxboro and buy houses and pay high rents just to send their kids to school here,” Lord said.
Udden however, reminded the board of a plan to add more low income housing on Community Way which could theoretically mean more students in the school system.
The issue will be brought up again at the school committee's next meeting in order to give committee members a chance to read Foxboro’s surrounding community agreement. Until then, Udden has made it clear that he has no plans to tone down his efforts.
“I’m afraid I’m not going to stop beating this drum until I get an answer from the selectmen or the town lawyer,” Udden said. “My concerns are about the influx of students and the public safety aspects. If there’s one individual that’s effected by the scope of this board’s authority that is as much as splashed by a puddle, I’m going to be as mad as a lion.”