Voters stop high school project
After years of planning and months of debate voters decided not to continue funding design work on a proposed $450 million high school project during a Special Town Meeting on Nov. 20.
The project would have replaced the current high school, which was built in the 1960s and suffers from overcrowding according to school officials. Opposition to the project grew significantly when the price of the project was revealed, which could have brought an average annual property tax increase of more than $2,000, depending on other factors.
Additionally since the town already has a number of outstanding debt obligations, borrowing enough funds to pay for the project would have also most likely dropped the town’s bond rating from AAA status, causing further costs.
Instead voters opted to only approve funding the design of an interim option meant to serve for around 10 years. Early stages planning for the interim option includes the planned use of modular classrooms. The Permanent Town Advisory Building Committee will be in charge of designing the interim option.
Family of three found dead
In the early morning of Thursday, Feb. 9 a wife, husband and their 12-year-old child were found shot to death in their Andover home. Police determined the father Andrew Robinson, 56, was responsible.
Andrew Robinson is believed to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. During the course of the investigation police learned that Andrew Robinson had been depressed and had trouble sleeping.
Police were alerted to the situation after receiving a 911 call from a person believed to be Andrew Robinson on Feb. 9 at 3:09 a.m. Shouting and loud smashing noises could be heard in the background. When law enforcement arrived they found the family dead.
Sebastian Robinson attended St. Augustine school until fourth grade and then later went to St. John’s Preparatory School in Danvers. Linda Robinson, his mother, previously worked as the finance director for Semaphore in North Andover.
Five-year-old struck and killed
On May 9, Sidney Olson, 5, was crossing the street in Elm Square when she was struck and killed by a tractor trailer. The fallout from the tragedy sent shockwaves through the town and has highlighted the dangers pedestrians and other non-drivers face.
The increase focused on pedestrian safety has resulted in a number of changes throughout the town, with community members continuing to ask for more to be done.
Changes to Elm Square have included moving back stop lines and adjustments to how the traffic lights worked. Speed limits have also been reduced around town in many locations where no number is specified, though this change had been in the works before the incident.
The driver of the truck is not being criminally charged, according to the Essex County District Attorney’s office, after police failed to find “sufficient evidence” to merit criminal charges.
Sidney was described as “bright-eyed, energetic girl with springy curls,” in a statement from the family.
Teachers strike and win contract
After a strike in November lasting three school days, the Andover Education Association — the school system’s largest union — reached a contract with the district.
The union voted to strike after months of unsuccessful negotiations that had left teachers and instructional assistants without a contract.
The contract included a raise 15.5% for teachers and a 34% increase for instructional assistants, each over four years. The school was warned that the pay increases will result in cuts elsewhere, while the union continues to criticize the town’s budgeting norms that limit the school’s budget.
The union said in a statement that the contract had achieved their stated goals.
The agreement was reached after 60 hours of negotiating.
Gillette moving manufacturing to town
Razor giant Gillette announced this year that they will be moving manufacturing from their South Boston location to its site in Andover.
The company plans on offering its South Boston manufacturing employees positions in Andover. Gillette usually has around 400-500 manufacturing workers at the South Boston location.
According to Gillette, the move along with additions to their Boston location will be the largest investment Proctor and Gamble, Gillette’s parent company, has made in the state.
The company will also be offering assistance to help employees navigate the 23-mile distance between the two locations.
Voters stop high school project