A couple of audience members left after Potter's presentation, when they were told they could not ask questions or make comments until the public forum part of the meeting. When it finally came time for the public forum, at 8:45 p.m., most of the members of the public remaining wanted to comment about PINS (person in need of supervision), ask for a re-vote on the code of conduct, or urge that Lorraine Del Vecchio be retained as the coordinator of substitute teachers.
There were, however, some comments and questions during the public forum that elicited new information about the decision to house the "Bridge" program at 364 Warren Street. When an audience member commented that the twenty-six students (the number of HCSD students expected to be in the program) was just "a drop in the bucket" when it came to the total number of students in need of such a program, HCSD superintendent Maria Suttmeier revealed, "We're looking for something larger." Another audience member, concerned that, in the past, ALP students had been promised things they didn't get, wanted to know how the school district was going to "get past the negativity in the community," if a back-up plan was needed, and if the building would be ready by the time school started.
Responding to the last of the three questions, Potter said they had been given "every assurance [by the Galvan Foundation] that the building will be ready." Suttmeier, however, acknowledged that construction has stopped because the project has not been issued a building permit. She went on to say that "the ball was dropped with introducing us to the community," explaining that she had been critically ill during the month of July. She called 364 Warren Street "a temporary stop." "We're not planning to stay there," she said.
Addressing the issue of "negativity," Suttmeier said there were "a lot of misconceptions." She excused her failure to engage the community earlier in the planning process by saying her attention "was on my district and the program." She also indicated that she was "shocked" that the community had reacted as it did. She promised to "try to mend fences" and "help people understand what we are planning to do here" and concluded her comments on the topic by saying, "The decision was made with the students in mind."
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