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DEVENS — MassDevelopment is close to final negotiations on an education contract for Devens children. The process is limping along, said Vice President for Community Development Victor Normand this week.

One sticking point is that the Department of Education (DOE) “wants Devens to firm up who will provide superintendent services,” he said.

Another question involves Harvard, even though Littleton appears to have the edge in winning a secondary school contract for Devens’ students. Harvard had been one of the bidders.

”The Harvard proposal was not acceptable to DOE, and we will give (them) another chance,” said Normand, who is also a Harvard resident.

”There is a joint meeting in Harvard tonight (Jan. 24), and we (MassDevelopment) will have a clear direction from Harvard tomorrow that will inform the selection committee. We will know where we stand financially, and know when.”

The MassDevelopment Board of Directors has authorized him to bring a school contract to the Devens Education Advisory Council (DEAC) and back to the board by March, said Normand.

Eighteen resumes for superintendent have been received and the selection committee will meet Jan. 31.

Committee members include DEAC Chairman Kathy Bernklow, Vice Chairman Susan Casey, Devens Essential Elementary School Founding Committee member Joseph DeGuglielmo, Normand, MassDevelopment Senior Vice President Richard Montuori, attorney Lee Smith, Laura Rogers of the Parker Essential Charter School and MassDevelopment Executive Vice President William Burke.

The selection committee will do the short-listing, and bring names to the MassDevelopment Executive Committee and board of directors hopefully by next month, Normand said. Draft criteria for the job are in place.

”We may hire the superintendent part time,” Normand said. “According to DOE this is a preferred alternative. We need to push this as far as it will go. Harvard knows we need to have an answer.”

Bernklow, who recently presided over a community meeting about education, said residents asked if Devens’ Cornerstone Elementary School is still planned for pre-kindergarten through grade six.

The answer relates to special needs, said Normand. If a pre-kindergarten, special needs child is identified, “we have an obligation,” he said.

”If there are several kids, (pre-kindergarten) may make sense for Devens,” he said. “If it’s one or two, it may be best to find an alternative.”

Bernklow, a special needs teacher, said that as of July 1 there is one special needs student Devens will pick up, but she is expecting full numbers from Shirley Superintendent Dr. Thomas Scott. Devens will be responsible for students through grade six.

Information about the Devens elementary school will be sent to parents in surrounding towns in hopes of better defining the numbers of students in each grade level as a measuring stick for Devens, she said.

Devens is committed to an after school program, but the question is whether it will be free or charged according to income level, said Bernklow in response to a question from Casey.

”It’s important to keep the services residents are used to,” Casey said.

Asked if Devens will have a normal pre-kindergarten program, Normand said as far as he know they can go to Shirley.

”We need to make more determination of costs,” he said.

Casey asked if parents would pay for the regular pre-kindergarten.

”In terms of pre-kindergarten and after school, or both, there may be some financial determination in a small school,” said Normand.

DeGuglielmo has already received nine school choice requests.

”We’re not (even) on the radar yet,” he said.

”Great,” Casey said. “I’m not worried about numbers.”

The Cornerstone Elementary School is slated to open in September 2006.

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