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Nashoba Tech panel rallies around ailing former chairman


WESTFORD — The end of the school year is always bittersweet for students and faculty members, with comings and goings, graduations and preparation for a long hot summer. But for the Nashoba Valley Technical School Committee, the season has become doubly sad with reports of the declining health of former chairman Kevin McKenzie.

After a quick meeting Tuesday, Superintendent of Schools Judith Klimkiewicz said McKenzie had been diagnosed with lung cancer last year and has recently been placed in the care of a Rhode Island-based nursing home.

McKenzie was Groton’s representative on the School Committee for many years before being chosen as chairman, a position he absented himself from when his illness forced him from active participation.

Dedicated to the school and its students, McKenzie served on the committee until the last moment he could. Klimkiewicz said McKenzie had called in his congratulations to this year’s graduating seniors.

His battle with lung cancer took a serious turn when treatment failed to halt its progress, and he was hospitalized.

That hospitalization, said Klimkiewicz on Tuesday, cost McKenzie’s family $11,000 per month. With McKenzie being too young to qualify for Medicare and other insurance coverage not enough to pay for the expense of his care, an effort is being mounted in his hometown to raise funds to help with the cost.

Klimkiewicz told members former Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee member Berta Erickson is spearheading an effort to raise funds for McKenzie, but plans were still in the early phases.

Klimkiewicz offered the school’s facilities for any fundraising activity even though she can’t use the school’s budget in support of the effort.

School Committee members were in agreement with the superintendent’s offer.

In other business, School Committee members:

* Authorized Klimkiewicz to go out to bid for replacement of 37 of the school building’s exterior doors.

* Authorized Klimkiewicz to go out to bid for replacement of kitchen cabinets in the early-childhood learning center.

* Voted to allow Klimkiewicz to review a number of bids for the installation of a new security system for the school’s front foyer.

* Authorized Klimkiewicz to sign contracts for the supply of food, milk and paper products for the cafeteria.

* Approved a school calendar for the 2013-2014 academic year which will begin Aug. 28, two days before Labor Day. Christmas vacation, noted on the calendar as winter break, is scheduled for Dec. 23-31. Classes will be held on Good Friday with April 21-25 noted as spring break.

* Were informed that work on the school’s new athletic field was progressing according to schedule with major landscaping efforts under way to bring the field up to grade. In addition, committee members were informed by Klimkiewicz that with the Lowell University’s decision to discontinue its football program, it was decided to donate a set of bleachers to Nashoba Tech. Arrangements were being sought to find a way to dismantle the bleachers and transport them to Nashoba’s new field. With the expectation that the field would be ready for use by October, Klimkiewicz suggested that next year’s graduation ceremonies might take place there.

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