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O’Shea, school traffic plan new to Harvard

HARVARD — With a revised traffic plan at Harvard Elementary School and new Principal James “Jim” O’Shea at The Bromfield School, students will notice many changes when school reconvenes Aug. 30.

The traffic plan will relocate buses to a newly-expanded fire lane on the north side of the elementary school, freeing up the semi-circle in front of the building for parents to pick up and drop off students.

The new plan is safer than the old plan and more efficient, said Superintendent of Schools Thomas Jefferson. In previous years Massachusetts Avenue became a very busy juncture during commute hours, he said, with buses lined up out front in the semi-circle and parents lined up along the road. Under the new scheme, parents can pull into the semi-circle, so the number of cars along Massachusetts Avenue and students crossing the street figures to fall sharply.

“Obviously, (Massachusetts) Avenue is a big safety factor,” said Jefferson. “We want to avoid cars queuing up there.”

The school has prepared letters outlining how the new system will work, but Principal Mary Beth Banios summarized a couple of key points. Students riding the bus will exit through the north door, while students being picked up will exit at either the front or rear doors.

Further explanations will be offered by the schools in coming weeks and by members of the Police Department during an open house on Aug. 29 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Overall, Banios termed the new plan an improvement, saying it was a joint effort between several town departments including the Department of Public Works, and Fire and Police departments.

“I’m very optimistic that the paving project, which will allow us to route buses down the north entrance side of the building and open up the front entrance for an additional pickup/drop-off location, will substantially improve the traffic issues at HES,” she said. “I think it’s important to recognize that this was a community effort with various town officials involved. Their help and commitment to the project was greatly appreciated.”

Further, Jefferson said this adjustment could be the first step in improving the traffic and parking situation at the school. He said plans to add more parking will likely be discussed in the future.

Across the street, O’Shea has been on the job since July 1.

After seven years at North Middlesex Regional High School — the last three as principal — O’Shea said he’s looking forward to the challenge of maintaining the high standards of Bromfield.

“For me, it’s about assisting the facility in continuing the outstanding instruction they are known for,” said O’Shea, “I think it’s a great school and a great community. I’m looking forward to a great year.”

O’Shea is replacing Thomas Hall, who retired on June 30.

In recent weeks, O’Shea said he’s kept busy meeting with faculty and parents.

“I’ve had a number of parents come in and introduce themselves,” he said.

Although O’Shea’s tenure at Bromfield has been brief, Jefferson said he’s already made favorable impressions.

“Jim’s doing a great job. We’re very pleased with him,” he said. “He brings a keen new insight on some issues for us.”

Finally, the high school building also had some work done this summer, with crews replacing aged and leaking sections of the roof over the auditorium, cafeteria and science wing.

The leaks were noticeable last year during bad weather, said Jefferson, leading to drip buckets and saturating ceiling tiles on several occasions. The expectation is that should be fixed by the month’s end or shortly after.

“It’s going to be close in terms of having it done for opening day,” said Jefferson. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

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