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Revised Policy Will Allow Alcohol in Newton Schools for Special Events

The Newton Schools Foundation is hoping to take advantage of the new policy and serve alcohol at an alumni gala event in the spring.

Following a discussion held earlier this month, the Newton School Committee unanimously approved Monday night a new policy that allows alcohol in school buildings under special circumstances.

The policy, which was brought forward at the Oct. 1 meeting by Ward 8 member Margie Ross Decter and Chair Claire Sokoloff, would allow alcohol to be served during special, after-school events and fundraisers for adults.

"Everyone feels the policy is very clear and makes a lot of sense," Decter said during Monday night's meeting. 

Currently, the Newton Use of School Building Policy does not permit any alcohol in school buildings whatsoever. However, Massachusetts law allows School Committees to make some changes to that policy. 

The revised policy will allow public or non-profit organizations to possess and sell alcoholic beverages in school buildings or on school grounds for events during non-school hours. Applicants are required to first get approval from the School Committee before seeking permission from the police chief as well as the city's Board of License Commissioners, Decter said.

To view the new policy, click the .pdf to the right.

Initially, the draft policy did not allow any students at the event where alcohol was being served. However, after discussing the policy earlier this month, the committee agreed to change the wording to allow students at the events if they are speaking or performing, as long as they are escorted in and out by an adult. 

The policy also makes it clear that the organizations serving alcohol and using the building are responsible for all costs, including any liability related to the use of the building. The organizations must sign an agreement absolving the city from all liability in connection with the proposed use of the building.

As Sokoloff noted during the committee's Oct. 1 meeting, the revised policy is important "as public and private partnerships are increasingly central to [the district's] strategy."

Following the committee's approval of the rule change, the Newton Schools Foundation (NSF) submitted the first application under the district's new policy. The foundation is hoping to have an alumni gala and fundraiser event on March 23, 2012, where they plan to serve alcohol.

NSF Executive Director Rick Iacobucci explained that the gala will be held in the Newton South Field House and will hopefully include alumni awards, dinner, a unique live auction as well as a special, celebrity guest.

"There are several [celebrities] from Newton South that we're exploring," Iacobucci said. "We're working with their families, agents and publicists...we're hoping to have one to announce shortly."

Iacobucci said the NSF hopes to make the alumni gala a yearly event, and to switch the venue each year between Newton North and Newton South.

Following the brief presentation, he School Committee unanimously approved the NSF's request to serve alcohol at the gala. 

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