A state budget advocacy organization – Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center – has released a report this week detailing a five-year roadmap to fix the state’s education funding crisis – a plan that would require $888 million over five years and mean $21 million more in state funding per year for Chelsea Schools.
Colin Jones of Mass Budget told the Record that the report – titled ‘Building an Education System that Works for Everyone: Funding Reforms to Help All Our Children Thrive’ – details a plan that would allow the state to increase school aid – specifically to communities like Chelsea Revere, and Everett – by around $200 million per year over a five-year period. That phased approach would lead to restoring what the 1993 education reform law promised, he said.
“The big picture is our school funding and the system isn’t really providing the resources that are needed for kids across these Gateway Cities like Chelsea,” he said. “The formula for funding hasn’t been updated in 25 years and the school district with the least wealth are facing the worst of it. We looked at the budgets and found that many of these districts are spending 25 percent below what they are supposed to spend on teachers. To make up for it, they have to shift money from other areas or get additional revenues or make cuts to other areas. That’s leading to these big budget gaps.”
Supt. Mary Bourque said the research confirms what the Chelsea Schools have been saying for quite some time.
“The Mass. Budget research validates what we have been saying as superintendents for years,” she said. “In 2013, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents did their own research which placed the underfunding of school districts at over $2 billion. In 2015, the Foundation Budget Reform Commission – of which I was a member – placed school districts also at over $2 billion underfunded. Now in 2018, we have MassBudget research attesting to the same. It is time to address the flaws that are well documented by multiple groups. It is time to fund our schools and place our students first.”
Jones said the formula fix needs to address the disparities between wealthy and poorer districts. Right now, he said Weston spends around $17,000 per student, while Chelsea Revere, and Everett are around $11,000 per student.
He said it should be the other way around.
He said the current formula requires districts to spend a set amount on teacher salaries, and in order to do that in the current funding climate, districts like Chelsea have to cut the extras, ask for City money or seek out grants. If that doesn’t happen, then it leads to cuts, bigger classes and no extras. Another byproduct is not being able to maintain school facilities properly.
“There are big gaps in these districts and it’s where you’ll see bigger class sizes, less money for the arts and less for enrichment programs,” he said. “You see them have to cut ties with long-time successful partners. They can apply for grants, but they shouldn’t be in that position. Education reform was about the districts doing their job at educating the kids and the state giving them what they needed to do it…We’re now starting to see a backsliding to what it used to be like before education reform.”
In Chelsea, the Foundation budget now is at $113 million, and state Chapter 70 education aid is $90 million. Under the new plan by Mass. Budget, by 2023, the school foundation budget would be $134 million and the state Chapter 70 aid would be $110 million.
It’s a gain of some $21 million per year in aid that the Chelsea Schools have been calling for over the past several years.
Jones said they consider their report a blueprint for fixing the statewide problem – a problem that is especially apparent in cities like Chelsea Everett, and Revere. He said he is hoping that it garners attention on Beacon Hill and becomes a point of discussion.
“We can fix this,” he said. “We have a blueprint now. These things will cost money to implement. There is a price, but we’re in a good economy and we’ve had good revenue collections at the state level. We’re looking at a phased approach of $200 million each year for five years.”
About 20,000 students recently graduated from U.S. medical schools. Now, they’re beginning the next chapter of their training, as residents.
Yet less than 7,000 will be pursuing careers in primary care. America will be short up to 43,100 primary care physicians by 2030, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Medical schools have a responsibility to help fix this shortfall. They can do so by making primary care more alluring to students.
Primary care physicians are our healthcare system’s first line of defense. They diagnose illnesses, help manage chronic conditions, and refer patients to specialists. Without them, patients would get lost in today’s byzantine health system.
The shortage of primary care doctors is partially due to concerns over money and status. Specialists are better paid and often involved in prestigious new research.
Between April 2016 and March 2017, physician recruitment firm Merritt Hawkins conducted nearly 3,300 searches for its clients. The average offered to recruit an orthopedic surgeon was $579,000. The average to recruit a family practitioner was less than half that.
The shortage also occurs because U.S. medical school’s faculty are mainly specialists. Surgery departments in U.S. medical schools boast over 15,000 faculty members. Family practice departments have just 5,700 members.
Professors serve as role models to students, many of whom seek to follow in the footsteps of these mentors. Overwhelmingly, that means pursuing a career as a specialist.
Aspiring doctors also train in settings that push them toward specialties, not primary care. Medical students generally train in large teaching hospitals that serve patients who have been referred from primary and secondary care providers. Few students train in small clinics and local doctor’s offices.
But most health care — and almost all primary care — is delivered outside of the hospital. Americans make 923 million trips to physician offices every year — and only 130 million to emergency departments. More than half of office visits are to primary care physicians.
So medical students rarely gain enough experience in primary care settings to decide if it’s the right career path for them.
These barriers are significant but not insurmountable.
To start, schools could promote primary care as a career. In 2015, the medical school at the University of California, Riverside, partnered with the Desert Regional Medical Center and Desert Healthcare District to launch a new primary care residency program in Palm Springs. UC Riverside also partners with Loma Linda University to offer the Pediatric Primary Care Residency Training Program, which prepares residents for careers in pediatrics and family medicine.
Second, schools could ensure students gain hands-on primary care experience by encouraging them to serve at community clinics. At the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, for example, nearly nine in 10 students volunteer in clinics in underserved communities. As a result, half of UC Davis students picked a primary care residency in 2015.
Third, schools could subsidize tuition for students who commit to primary care careers. At St. George’s University, on the Caribbean island of Grenada, our CityDoctors Scholarship program provides grants to students from New York City who agree to return to practice in the city’s public hospital system after they graduate. This year, eight students received CityDoctors scholarships worth a total of $1.1 million.
Medical schools must make careers in primary care exciting and affordable for a new generation of physicians.
Richard Olds, M.D., is president of St. George’s University. He was founding dean of UC Riverside’s medical school.
Our Main Streets, mom and pops and storefronts are in many cases the first line of defense and first resource for when a storm hits.
This summer, advocates from the Climate Action Business Association (CABA) are coming to Chelsea to equip small businesses with the tools necessary to be resilient and protected in the face of extreme weather.
The Businesses Acting on Rising Seas (BARS) campaign, is an ongoing project that aims to inform community leaders and small businesses about the urgency of climate change and the need to incorporate climate resilient practices.
The BARS 2016 campaign reached over 500 businesses in Massachusetts, causing the campaign to gain national recognition and our Executive Director Michael Green to receive the White House Champions of Change Award for Climate Equity. This year, we have taken a more tailored approach by creating specific resilience guides for each one of our targeted communities, including city-specific information and resources.
We have worked closely with the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce and the community-based organization, GreenRoots, based in Chelsea to create useful, informative, and low-cost steps that small businesses can take to improve their preparedness in the face of climate change. During the week of July 16, be sure to keep an eye out for CABA as we conduct our outreach campaign among the small business community in Chelsea or contact us before then to schedule an interview with us and become part of the BARS campaign.
If you would like more information, contact Kristin Kelleher at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (617) 863 7665.
On the heels of record-setting flood events in January and March 2018, the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) announced today that it is updating its core mission and resources to help municipalities manage the extreme weather associated with climate change.
“Slowing down climate change is all about managing energy,” said Patrick Herron, MyRWA’s executive director. “Adapting to climate change is all about managing water—both flooding and drought. Water is something that we have thought about for over four decades.”
The Mystic River watershed spans 21 cities and towns from Woburn through Revere. This spring, MyRWA staff met with nearly fifty state and local stakeholders to best understand how a regional watershed association could help municipalities become more resilient to flooding, drought and heat.
“We heard over and over from cities and towns that they can’t manage flooding from just within their municipal boundaries,” explained Herron. “Stormwater flooding in Medford for example, has its origins in upstream communities. Coastal storms below the Amelia Earhart Dam threaten both New England’s largest produce distribution center and Logan Airport’s jet fuel supply.”
“We’re concerned about the neighborhoods and residents living in the shadows of massive petroleum storage tanks and other industries which are projected to be severely impacted by climate change. When the flood waters and chemicals reach homes, how will our communities be protected?” asked Roseann Bongiovanni, executive director of GreenRoots in Chelsea. “We’ve seen neighborhoods in Louisiana, Puerto Rico and Houston be decimated. Chelsea and East Boston could be next.”
Based on this feedback, MyRWA requested and received a $115,000 grant from the Barr Foundation that will allow the non-profit to work with municipalities, businesses and community organizations on an action-oriented, regional, climate resilience strategy for the Mystic River Watershed. This grant will allow MyRWA to hire Julie Wormser to lead this new program.
“The Barr Foundation’s climate resilience grantmaking has historically focused on Boston. Yet, we know climate change is no respecter of city boundaries. If some act in isolation, neighboring communities could actually become more vulnerable,” said Mary Skelton Roberts, co-director of Barr’s Climate Program. “It is our privilege to support MyRWA’s efforts to advance solutions at a more expansive, watershed scale.”
As executive director of The Boston Harbor Association, Wormser was instrumental in in drawing attention to Boston’s need to prepare for coastal flooding from extreme storms and sea level rise. She coauthored Preparing for the Rising Tide and Designing With Water and co-led the Boston Living with Water international design competition with the City of Boston and Boston Society of Architects. She will join MyRWA as its deputy director beginning July 1st.
“Three of the US cities most engaged in climate preparedness—Boston, Cambridge and Somerville—are located in the Mystic River Watershed,” said Wormser. “This grant will allow us collectively to share information and lessons learned since Superstorm Sandy with lower-resourced municipalities. By working regionally and with the State, we can also create multiple benefit solutions such as riverfront greenways that double as flood protection. It’s very inspiring.”
In response to the U.S. border crisis, and the recent ruling by the Supreme Court to uphold the Trump Administration’s travel ban for some Muslim countries, local community leader Veronica Robles has decided to host an uplifting celebration of all cultures that call East Boston and America home.
The Veronica Robles Cultural Center will presents the first annual Uniting Borders Multicultural Festival, a festival for everyone, this Saturday, June 30 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Suffolk Downs.
“The goal with this festival is to gather as community and highlight local talent and grassroots organizations to celebrate the diverse and rich cultures of our city,” said Robles. “As part of the ceremony we will offer the Ethnic Award to East Boston and Chelsea Police Departments, The Harborkeepers, Chelsea Police Department and the Jossour Moroccan Association of Revere.”
The event will feature 2005 Billboard’s Artist of the Year, Domenic Marte, and the Moroccan band, Stars of Boston, as well as thrity other local performers of music, songs and ethnic dance.
Activities for children will include bouncy houses, arts and crafts, magicians, clowns and more. “And you can’t have a multicultural event without food,” joked Robles. “Food will include tacos, arepas, hotdogs, pizza and food trucks North East of the Border and Perros Paisa, and Los Chamos.”
Robles said the program will kickoff at 12 p.m. with youth talent and dance groups including Yorgelis Williams La Voz Kids, Jossue “El Rancherito de Oro” La Voz Kids, Sebastián Medina, Alexander Taborda, Tomas Mira, the Veronica Robles Cultural Center Dancers and many more.
“Live bands will hit the stage at 1:30 p.m. starting with the pop band Karina Rae pop band, followed by the Moroccan band, Stars of Boston,” said Robles. “They will be followed by Jimador Musical a Mexican Norteño band, Grupo Los Nítidos a Salvadoran Music band, Eduardo Betancourt and Carolina Montes a Venezuelan Ensemble, Con Sabor Colombiano from Colombia, Na Bangela from Brazil and Panadictos, a Spanish rockband.”
Tickets are $20 if purchased online at www.eventbrite.com/e/multicultural-fest-uniting-borders-tickets-46871222087 or $25 at the door. Children under 12 and seniors are free.
A Tibetan social organization has purchased the former Irish Club on Clinton Street, and several City officials would like to know more about what the new club would like to do with the property.
The matter was first breeched by Councillor Leo Robinson last month at a Council meeting, when he said he had heard there was a new owner and they had an extensive membership.
Robinson was worried, in particular, about the nature of the Club’s activities and their parking plan – as the former Irish Club hadn’t seen a large membership in many years.
On Monday night, City Manager Tom Ambrosino reported that the Tibetan Association of Boston had recently purchased the Irish Club property. He said the club has a permit for the use of the first floor only as a social club.
“That use will be allowed as a matter of right by the new owner,” he said. “I understand the new owner is currently working with ISD to secure the required occupancy permit for that permitted use.”
He said ISD recently conducted an inspection of the property and identified some violations that need to be corrected.
That said, the new owner has expressed to the City a desire to permit the basement for a social club as well. That could only be done by a Special Permit, requiring the new club to make a date with the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for expanding a non-conforming use.
It might also require some parking relief too, Ambrosino said.
“Thus far, the owner has started the Special Permit application process, but it has not yet supplied ISD with all the necessary documentation for a full review,” he said.
Ambrosino told the Record that his understanding is the new club has a membership of around 200.
Full-service real estate and property management firm Peabody Properties (http://www.peabodyproperties.com) is proud to announce that Dusanka Caus of Chelsea, Massachusetts, has been recognized for excellence by the New England Affordable Housing Management Association (NEAHMA).
Caus, Peabody Properties’ Service Manager, was awarded Maintenance Professional of the Year at the recent NEAHMA Annual Industry Awards reception, held in conjunction with the organization’s Annual Conference & Trade Show. The honor is given annually to a NEAHMA member affordable housing professional in recognition of their contribution to the affordable housing industry. In addition, the award recognizes the difference the recipient has made in residents’ lives, the demonstrated skills needed to operate a well-run property, and the ability to work well with industry partners and residents living in the community.
“Dusanka is an extraordinary member of our team and well-deserving of this prestigious award from NEAHMA,” said Scott Ployer, Vice President of Peabody Properties, Inc. “The entire Peabody Properties community extends congratulations to Dusanka.”
About Peabody Properties, Inc.
Peabody Properties is a full-service real-estate firm which manages more than 12,000 units of housing, primarily in New England. The award-winning, privately held corporation and Accredited Management Organization (AMO) was incorporated in 1976 and is under the direction of Karen Fish-Will and Melissa Fish-Crane. In 1995, Peabody Properties recognized its long-term commitment to Resident Services as a unique area of expertise within the field of property management and established a new, specialty sector. Peabody Resident Services, Inc. is dedicated solely to the development of support services and programs for residents of affordable housing. Peabody Properties is designated as a Woman Business Enterprise (WBE), is certified by the Massachusetts State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance (SOMWBA) and was recently ranked in the top 60 on the 2017 National Affordable Housing Management Association (NAHMA) Affordable 100 List, as well as a 2017 Top Place to Work by the Boston Globe. Peabody Properties maintains headquarters at 536 Granite Street, Braintree, MA 02184. The firm also has offices in New Jersey and Florida. For additional information please visit http://www.peabodyproperties.com.
The Chelsea police officers were there to Sammy Mojica Jr. The Chelsea High and Brimmer and May basketball players were there to see their former teammate, Sammy Mojica Jr.
Sammy Mojica Jr. with his mother, Awilda Morales, following the Drexel-Northeastern game Feb. 15 at Matthews Arena.
And Sammy Mojica Jr., son of CPD Officer Sammy Mojica Sr. and Awilda Morales, put on a very good show, scoring 13 points and playing terrific defense for the Drexel Dragons in a hard-fought 75-69 loss to Northeastern at Matthews Arena.
It was one final example to young Chelsea basketball players that if you work hard, do the right things on and off the court and in the classroom, and follow the guidance of your parents, you can realize your dream and play major college basketball.
Sammy Mojica, a star at Chelsea High for two seasons before transferring to Brimmer and May where he became a 1000-point scorer, has not only played Division 1 college basketball but he has excelled. Earlier this season he surpassed the 1000-point milestone as a collegian.
Sammy came out firing against Northeastern, hitting a pair of long-range three-pointers. He rebounded, ran the floor well, and found the open teammate for high percentage shots. The Dragons closed the gap late in the game and it appeared they might overtake the Huskies, but the second-best team (behind the College of Charleston) in the Colonial Athletic Association, but the hosts held off Sammy and Company in the final minutes.
Supporters and former teammates like Cesar Castro, a 1000-point scorer himself at CHS, stayed after the game to congratulate Sammy Mojica for the pride he’s brought to the city. In fact, Castro, a CHS assistant coach, brought several Red Devil players with him to Northeastern to root on Sammy.
“I wanted the players to see what hard work, a dedication to practice, and having a great attitude will lead them to one day,” said Castro.
Brimmer and May basketball coach Tom Nelson was at the game with some of Sammy’s former teammates at the Newton school.
“After playing two years at Chelsea High, he came over and played basketball for me at Brimmer and May, did a great job in a competitive league and scored 1,000 points,” said Nelson. “He played AAU basketball on my Mass Rivals team and then it was off to Drexel where he’s had another great career. He worked very hard and he always had a determination to be good. At the end of the day he’ll be able to show his kids that he had a great college career at Drexel and I think that’s important for him. He’s one of the best kids you’ll meet. He’s just a pure, kind soul and he’s never changed.”
Sammy was happy to see all his supporters from Chelsea at the game.
“Every time I come to Boston there’s a big crowd, but today it was special because it’s my last time playing here in college, so to have my family and friends here, I appreciate it so much,” said Sammy.
He’s proud of his 1000-point achievement, a milestone reached by only the elite players in college basketball.
“It was crazy to get to 1000,” said Sammy. “I remember scoring my 1000th point in high school and to do it at the highest level of college basketball, it felt very good to do it,” said Sammy. “Thank God all my family and friends supported me and stayed on me and I stayed level headed here.”
Sammy had a message for the kids of Chelsea who want to follow in his footsteps and play Division 1 basketball.
“Just keep working, believe in yourself at all times and don’t let anyone put you down – you have to keep following your dream,” said the Drexel star.
Sammy Mojica Jr., heaped praise on his parents for their devotion and guidance from his earliest days when his talent was first noticed in the Chelsea Youth Basketball League until today at Drexel, where he’s wrapping up a superb college basketball career and graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Communications.
“I love my parents – my mom, who’s been my No. 1 supporter from the jump, and my dad, who put a ball in my hands when I was a baby, taught me the game – they’ve always been there every step of the way and I appreciate my mom and my dad so much,” said Sammy.
Chelsea Supt. Mary Bourque said just when urban educators plagued with a flawed funding formula thought they made some progress, the state yanked all that progress from under them recently.
Bourque, the past president of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents and the co-chair of the Urban Superintendents Network, has been working with the state for more than two years to fix a problem for Chelsea and many surrounding districts involving low income students – now called economically disadvantaged. The change has cost the Chelsea Schools millions of dollars per year in funding that they expected, but no longer qualified for.
“In the urban districts, we’re all on fragile ice right now,” she said. “Everything is coming at us at one time. It really begs the question about whether the allocation for education of students of poverty going to be the place where the state goes to make cuts and balance the budget every year. That’s not what the Foundation Formula budget is meant to do. It’s really almost immoral.”
Schools like Chelsea, Revere, Everett and Brockton – among others – have been hamstrung for the last two years due to major reductions in state funding due to the change in the formula. That change entailed making economically disadvantaged students qualify for that title only if their families were on some sort of public welfare benefit. Unfortunately, in communities like Chelsea, many families don’t qualify for those benefits due to their immigration status or because they haven’t been in the country legally for five years. Without that, the schools don’t receive nearly as much money to educate a very difficult and needy population.
This year, Bourque said, they added several new “qualifiers” for the economically disadvantaged tag – such as programs that students in Chelsea might qualify for despite immigration status.
However, as soon as that battle was won, Bourque said the state turned around and lowered the amount of money given for each student – making the gain a complete wash.
“We worked hard with the state to come up with solutions and they did add more students to qualify,” she said. “But as soon as we got more students, they reduced the amount of money given for each student.”
Bourque said the Chelsea Schools are likely going to be down another $1 million from where they feel they should be in the coming budget year. She said they will keep working on it, though.
It has been a real learning experience for the long-time administrator, though maybe not a positive one.
“To ignore systemic injustice and failure while children’s futures are compromised is morally and ethically, wrong,” she said. “It is not who we are as a Commonwealth nor is it who we want to be. The Grand Bargain of 1993 (for Education Reform) is not more and hasn’t been for many years. It is time for courage and time for action; our children and their futures are far too important.”
Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), an academic community health-system serving Everett and Boston’s metro-north region, is teaming up with the North Suffolk Mental Health Association (NSMHA) to help get individuals struggling with addiction connected to treatment by piloting a new recovery-coach program at CHA Everett Hospital. Two coaches from NSMHA are now available to patients who struggle with addiction or present with mental health issues in the Emergency Department, inpatient psychiatry and CHA’s med-surg units.
The total number of estimated and confirmed opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts, through the first nine months of 2017, was over 1,400 – a 10-percent reduction from the same period in 2016. At the same time, from 2012 – 2016, over 70 people in Everett died from opioid misuse.
The pilot program places recovery coaches in direct contact with patients, on a voluntary basis, following an overdose reversal with naloxone, the lifesaving anti-opioid medication. The aim is to link individuals to treatment and recovery services locally. Other patients may present with medical conditions related to substance use and the recovery coach can use this opportunity to engage the patient in treatment.
“A recovery coach is a person who helps remove personal and environmental obstacles to recovery, noted Kim Hanton, director of addiction services at the North Suffolk Mental Health Association.”
“Coaches serve as personal guides and mentors supporting individual and family recovery where support networks are limited. NSMHA has incorporated this model throughout the addiction division since 2013. We are thrilled to partner with CHA sharing each of our expertise to build a continuum of support which begins at the most vulnerable time – entrance into the emergency department”
CHA’s chief of emergency medicine, Benjamin Milligan, MD, and a group of providers in the Emergency Department, including Josh Mularella, DO, Emily Adams, PA, and Christine Trotta, PA, ran the Boston Marathon last year and dollars raised through their efforts helped to fund the pilot initiative.
NSMHA’s recovery coaches are trained and certified professionals who guide or mentor patients seeking recovery support from alcohol and other drug addictions. Recovery coaches do not provide clinical services, instead they offer the critical support or link to the services and resources that a person needs to achieve and sustain recovery.
“We are excited to have recovery coaches embedded at CHA Everett Hospital and believe they will strengthen the hospital’s role as a link in patient’s long-term ‘chain of recovery,’” commented Melisa Lai- Becker, MD, site chief of emergency medicine at CHA Everett Hospital. “The ability to partner a patient immediately with a peer who is able to help them navigate to the next link in the chain is invaluable. We are optimistic that the program will have a lasting impact and we may expand the initiative in the future providing a model for a potential statewide network of peer recovery coaches.”
Immediate support when a crisis occurs is vital for effective engagement in recovery and treatment. When a patient arrives at the CHA Everett Hospital Emergency Department he/she is offered a NSMHA recovery coach during peak hours (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).