Advocacy Group Produces Study Showing Roadmap to Fix Chelsea School Funding

Advocacy Group Produces Study Showing Roadmap to Fix Chelsea School Funding

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.”

Read More

Chelsea Pride Football and Cheer Registration Begins

Chelsea Pride Football and Cheer Registration Begins

Registration is open for Chelsea Pride Football and Cheer. Come and join the Chelsea Pride family. Registrations will be on Mondays and Wednesdays 5pm to 8pm down Carter Park and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. down Mary C Burke baseball field. Registration fee is only $80 for the first child ($50 for each additional child). The following items are required when signing up

Certified Birth Certificate (returning players not required)

Up to date physical form

Last report card issued (4th quarter from 2017-18 school year)

Chelsea Pride Football is a grade-based youth football league. We offer the following

1st-2nd grade – flag football

3rd-4th grade – flag football

5th-6th grade – tackle football

7th-8th grade – tackle football

Cheerleading

Chelsea Pride Football is open for Revere and Everett Children for football and cheerleading.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us at chelseapridefootball@yahoo.com. Or visit us on Facebook at: Chelsea Pride Football & cheer

Read More

Chelsea’s Chavez to Offer Workshops at Gardner Museum

Chelsea’s Chavez to Offer Workshops at Gardner Museum

Drawing on the themes of Life, Death & Revelry, local artist Silvia López Chavez will offer workshops at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum designed to engage visitors in the exhibition with hands-on activities. Chavez’s Saturday Open Studio series will run every Saturday, starting June 30. She will also host studio workshops as the visiting artist on Saturday, June 30 as well as during Third Thursdays on June 21.

“The workshops are inspired by the Life, Death & Revelry exhibition,” says Chavez. “My hope is to allow visitors to experiment with the art materials and techniques I use in my own studio practice while having fun with color and creating personal meaning around the idea of Life Cycles.”

With roots in the Dominican Republic, Chavez is an interdisciplinary artist who believes in the power of the creative process as an agent for positive change. The Chelsea resident has collaborated on projects and public art works throughout the city and the Greater Boston area, including murals at Uphams’ Corner, the Charles River Esplanade, Punto Urban Art Museum in Salem, and Northeastern University, among others. Her exhibit record includes the Fitchburg Art Museum, Boston Children’s Museum, and the New Hampshire Institute of Art. She is also an artist-in-residence at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Chavez is an award-winning graphic designer and has worked with high-profile companies and institutions for more than 15 years. She holds a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and continues her studio art practice at the Boston Center for the Arts.

Through the Polly Thayer Starr Artist Series, the Museum supports four artists in the Boston area by providing them with opportunities to develop artistic experiences and engaging workshops for visitors. The series allows artists to consider their work within the rich cultural context of the Gardner Museum and the unique legacy of the Museum’s founder, Isabella Stewart Gardner, through a structured three-month collaboration period of thought, exploration, and workshop implementation.

The Polly Thayer Starr Artists design and implement curriculum for Saturday Open Studios and lead hands-on activities at the Museum. Chavez’s workshop series evolved from her collaboration with the Museum throughout April, May, and June.

Chavez’s workshops will run every Saturday, June 30 through September 1, from 11 am to 4 pm. Open Studio events are included with Museum admission.

Read More

Is This Really America?

Is This Really America?

The national disgrace that is occurring at our southern border is something that we never could have imagined happening in the United States of America.

The images of children separated from their parents and locked behind chain link fences evokes the worst horrors of the 20th century —  the concentration camps and gulags to which millions of people were consigned by the very worst dictatorial regimes.

For almost 250 years, America has been not merely a place, but an ideal for the proposition that all men are created equally and that every person has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In less than a few days’ time however, the principles that Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers so eloquently, yet simply, put into words in the Declaration of Independence have been destroyed.

The justification for what, by any standards of decency, amounts to an inhumane policy resembles a classic case of reductio ad absurdum.

The New York Times columnist David Brooks (who is a conservative writer) put it this way in his analysis of the language that is being used when they talk about the situation:

“This is what George Orwell noticed about the authoritarian brutalists: They don’t use words to illuminate the complexity of reality; they use words to eradicate the complexity of reality.”

If we say nothing then basically we are telling these families and their children that they are getting what they deserve. If separating people into metal cages is okay, then what does that say about our society and ourselves.

Read More

Sports 06-21-2018

Sports 06-21-2018

Bruins Beat

by Bob Morello

Bruins’ Blades coming to Chelsea

The Boston Bruins will be returning to Massachusetts and New Hampshire libraries this summer to continue their “When You Read, You Score!” reading programs, presented by Velcro Companies. They will be at the Chelsea Public Library (569 Broadway), on Tuesday, July 10th from 2 – 3 p.m.. On Wednesday, June 27, the Bruins will host a kick-off event pairing Bruins Development Camp prospects and local students for games and other reading activities at the Waltham Public Library (735 Main St., Waltham).

2018 marks the ninth year the Bruins will partner with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the Massachusetts Library System, and the third year partnering with the Children’s Librarians of New Hampshire to support literacy programs and encourage reading among youth across the two states.

Throughout the summer, Bruins Mascot Blades and members of the Bruins promo team will visit libraries across Massachusetts and New Hampshire in an effort to promote youth literacy. At each “When You Read, You Score!” library visit, children and teens will be able to meet and interact with Blades, participate in Bruins arts and crafts, fun backyard games, and have the chance to win official Bruins prizes by competing in hockey trivia.

“Literacy is one of the most important abilities for students to develop and builds a strong foundation for success in life; so we are proud to be working with the Bruins to bring educational and literacy programs to the kids,” said Fraser Cameron, CEO, Velcro Companies. “‘When You Read, You Score!’ is an innovative way to connect with kids and sharpen their reading skills by making learning engaging, exciting and fun outside the classroom.”

To help inspire children and teens to keep reading over the summer, Bruins players, including Patrice Bergeron, ZdenoChara, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask have helped libraries develop a summer reading list that also includes librarian picks for the best hockey books. To see the “Favorite Books of the Boston Bruins” list, visit BostonBruins.com/SummerReading.

Read More

School Budget Cuts Starting to be Felt in the Community

School Budget Cuts Starting to be Felt in the Community

Closing a $3.1 million budget gap is never painless, but now in the weeks after those cuts were announced, many in the community are starting to take notice.

This week, one of the most notable cuts that is being discussed is the removal of the librarian from the Chelsea High  School (CHS) Library.

Supt. Mary Bourque said the cuts, including the librarian, were part of the School Committee’s attempt to deal with state funding discrepancies that have been dealt to the City over the last few years. She pointed out that last year, the Schools had to cut the elementary school librarian as well.

Now, the school system is left with only two librarians at the Middle School level.

Bourque said they had to prioritize teaching and learning, as well as their turnaround plan that is already in place. When making tough decisions, the librarian at CHS was a hard, but clear, choice.

“We needed to stay close, first and foremost, to the principles that would help meet the needs of our students,” she said. “We used data and we based the decision on the data. This is our third year of budget cuts. It’s illustrative of the broken state funding formula…This year we’re cutting the librarian at the high school because of the standards we stood on. We looked at the data and circulation numbers are down. Kids at the high schools are doing a lot of research online now. There were only about nine books a day being checked out for a 1,500-student body.”

Speaking up big for the CHS librarian was fellow librarian Martha Boksenbaum, who is the Children’s Librarian at the Chelsea Public Library. She said a school librarian shouldn’t be sacrificed, especially since the librarian at the elementary school was cut last year.

“One might argue that if there isn’t a School Librarian, students can just go to the Public Library instead,” she wrote in a letter to the Record this week. “In reality a School Librarian does things the Public Library cannot possibly do. School Librarians are part of the school; they know the teachers, the teachers know them and they work together on a daily basis so School Librarians can make sure students have what they need to complete their assignments.

“Students in Chelsea deserve more than this,” she continued. “While school funding is tight and hard decisions have to be made, this is a sacrifice Chelsea High students should not have to make.”

Bourque said she did a survey and found that most schools in the area were down to one librarian districtwide. That was true in Revere, Saugus and Malden. In Winthrop, there is no librarian in the schools.

In Chelsea, they left the two middle school librarians because they also teach classes, where the elementary and high school librarians did not teach.

“Librarians are the support services for students and are necessary, but when you have to decide whether to increase class sizes by keeping the librarian or keeping class sizes at 30 and cut support services like librarians, that the choice,” she said. “We can’t cut the teachers in the classrooms.”

The school librarian was only a small part of the cuts made to the School Budget.

Other cuts included:

  • Three administrative positions.
  • 10 instructor positions.
  • Two whole-class paraprofessionals.
  • 10 one-on-one paraprofessionals.
  • Discontinuation of the 5th to 8th grades Citizens Schools at the Brown Middle and Wright Middle Schools.
  • Mandatory Connect Digital Lead Teacher Platform.
  • Reduction in the extraordinary maintenance and technology budget.

Of all of those, Bourque said they needed to be careful about pushing off the maintenance and technology budget.

“You can only do that so many years in a row before it comes back to bite you,” she said. “We have to be careful in doing that.”

Meanwhile, Bourque said the cuts are a call for the community to unite in lobbying the entire legislature to support Senate Bill 2325, which was proposed by Sen. Sonia Chang Diaz. Bourque said that bill contains all of the fixes to make sure cuts like this wouldn’t have to happen for a fourth year in a row.

“It behooves us all to be on the same path with our advocacy,” she said.

House Budget contains pothole account to help schools like Chelsea

The House Budget passed last week by the state House of Representatives has some encouraging news regarding school financing – and word from Beacon Hill is that the funding changes will outlast any vetoes from Gov. Charlie Baker.

The House put in a $12.5 million “Pothole Account” to help districts hurt by the change in ‘Economically Disadvantaged’ definitions a few years ago. Last year, there was no such funding, but this year it looks like that money will make it through.

The money would be allocated to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and they would be charged with disbursing it to the affected district.

Supt. Mary Bourque said the pothole account in the House Budget is good news, but she hopes that there are some changes.

“First of all, $12.5 million will go fast,” she said. “I have asked Sen. Sal DiDomenico to petition that DESE isn’t in charge of disbursing that account…We need to get it passed first, but second I would like to see that DESE isn’t in charge of that money.”

Read More

Women Celebrating Women at Roca

Women Celebrating Women at Roca

Every country has a story about the strength of its women. That was the lesson learned by the 30 or so young mothers who attended Roca Chelsea’s International Women’s Day celebration on March 29.

Roca’s Young Mothers program focuses on helping high risk young moms get out of violence and poverty, go to work, and care for their children. As part of the programming, Roca has built a community among the participating women through a weekly ‘family night,’ where moms and their children gather to take classes, learn, and grow – and also eat and socialize in a safe environment. The International Women’s Day festivity was an add on to this weekly gathering, giving the group a chance to learn about each other’s home countries and the women that helped shape history.

Ahead of the event, each participating young mom was asked to research a woman in history from her home country, and prepare a short presentation for the group. The result was a diverse line up of rock star women from all over, including Honduras, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and the US.

“We asked them to look for women in history that made a difference and acknowledge powerful women in Latin America who have always been there,” explained Roca Chelsea Young Mothers staff member Gina Josette. “We wanted to celebrate these women and ourselves as women in a fun and creative way.”

And celebrate they did. The women also brought traditional dishes from their home country to share with the group making the event a feast!

“It’s important and empowering for our young mothers to celebrate women in their country’s history,” said Josette. “For other events, we celebrate other important parts of our lives—Mother’s Day, graduations, etc. We celebrate any type of success in our group, and we celebrate it together.”

Read More

We Need Courage to Stand Up for Public Education

We Need Courage to Stand Up for Public Education

(The following was delivered to the School Committee at its public hearing on Thursday, March 15)

Good evening and welcome to the Chelsea Public Schools FY19 Budget Public Hearing. This year’s budget represents a budget gap of $3.1 million between what we need and what we can do.

We have worked very hard in this budget season to maintain a district lens and sacrifice for the greater good of our students and staff. We have maintained programs and services that are required compliance, regulations or law; we have prioritized our Accelerated Improvement Plan work and our Turnaround Plan work, because that work is about our students’ futures. We have made cuts that were the least impactful on classroom instruction and we have shifted positions with the shifting needs of our student demographics—positions shifted to where there is more student need.

It is fitting that our FY19 school budget is being presented to you this week; because this week is Public Schools Week across our nation. Public schools are the foundation of our democracy. Ladies and gentlemen, I LOVE PUBLIC EDUCATION!

Public education is inclusive and universal. We welcome and educate all races, religions, sexual orientations, abilities, and languages. We are the best investment with the highest return on our future as a country, dollar for dollar.

Strengthening our public schools is the best way to ensure our children’s success and our country’s prosperity. And yet, sadly, we find ourselves in a time and place where we are not willing as a society, as a citizenry, to invest in public education. Each year I come to you with a budget that is failing more and more to meet the complex needs of our students.

Each year I come to you with a budget that fails to provide an equitable education compared to public school children in wealthier communities. Each year we, these educators—teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals here tonight are being asked to do more with far less.

Providing our schools with the funding that is needed for our children, for the next generation is the civil rights struggle of our time. Will you join me in this civil rights struggle; will you join me in our quest for social justice?

We need now, today, to have the courage to stand up for public education. We need to have the courage to face our federal and state leaders and demand that the definition of “adequacy” in education, especially for our children in urban communities is no longer a fluctuating dollar figure, annually.

I ask you to:

  • Call or email your state legislators to restore to Chelsea this year the $300 per student rate in the economically disadvantaged allocation – an amount that will provide Chelsea with over $1,000,000 more in our budget.
  • Call or email your state legislators to support Senate Bill 223, An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century, which will begin a seven-year incremental and fairly paced structural fix to the foundation budget formula. Because if the foundation formula was implemented today, without adjusting rates for inflation, but simply giving us what was promised in the formula algorithm itself, such as 100 percent charter school reimbursement rather than 47 percent reimbursement, Chelsea would have an additional $17 million dollars in its Chapter 70 budget.
  • Call or email your congressional delegation to stop at the federal level the continued prioritization of privatization as well as stop the elimination of federal grants such as Title II, Title IV, 21st Century, and other cuts proposed in President Trump’s FY19 budget.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Courage is more exhilarating than fear, and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.”

I ask that each of you have the courage, alongside me, to take the next step and stare down the inequities; I ask that each of you take up the next step in our educational civil rights challenge, in our search for social justice. We can’t wait any longer, the structural deficit is causing harm to our children’s futures.

We need to start loving and funding public education once again.

Read More

School, City Officials Ask Parents to Be Aware of Children’s Social Media Posting Following Threat

School, City Officials Ask Parents to Be Aware of Children’s Social Media Posting Following Threat

In the wake of a social media threat against the Chelsea High School posted last Friday, School Supt. Mary Bourque is putting students and parents on notice that there will be zero tolerance for any threats – whether verbal, written or posted on social media.

As a major footnote to that warning, she said she is initiating a citywide campaign aimed at parents of school-age children – calling them to be vigilant about checking their children’s’ social media posts.

“Any threats, whether verbal, written or posted on social media we will prosecute and we have prosecuted with our relationship with the Chelsea Police,” she said. “As a practice, the Chelsea Public Schools always talks serious threats to the schools and well-being of the schools. There are protocols we have with the Chelsea Police about prosecuting these matters. We will have zero tolerance for any threats.”

This follows on a threat made on Friday, March 2, via a social media post by a student at the high school. Using the protocol – and especially in the current environment following the school shooting in Florida – police quickly checked out the threat, searched  the student’s home and determined it wasn’t credible.

But that didn’t get the student off the hook.

Police, according to protocol, placed the juvenile student under arrest for posting a threat via social media.

It won’t be the last time either, Bourque said.

And that got to the heart of the matter for the schools, and that heart is the schools want parents to really monitor their children’s’ social media accounts.

“We need help with this, as does every school  district,” she said. “We also want to work with parents to start monitoring what their Chelsea are doing on social media. For us, it’s getting control of what’s going on in social media that’s of paramount importance…We need parents to be paying attention to all of the accounts. No child should have a password their parents don’t know about.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino and members of the City Council have also been asked to help with the campaign, and will do so.

“There has to be a zero tolerance for this,” he said. “Kids can’t be posting these kinds of things on social media. They will get in trouble for it. There are just too many serious things going on with this to be making these kinds of threatening posts.”

Bourque said there have been no credible threats discovered from the posts that have happened  this year, including the one on Friday.

Most of the time, she said, it’s about posturing, but it’s a posture that’s going to land kids in serious trouble.

“It’s mostly students trying to portray themselves as something they are not,” she said. “They are bad judgment calls in putting themselves out there in that way, but it’s something that will get them in trouble.”

Read More

Treasurer Deb Goldberg Kicks Off Re-Election Campaign for State Treasurer

Treasurer Deb Goldberg Kicks Off Re-Election Campaign for State Treasurer

With the crowd overflowing from the room, State Treasurer Deb Goldberg kicked off her re-election campaign last night.  Goldberg, who was introduced by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, spoke of how her principles and values have guided her tenure as State Treasurer.

“Economic stability, economic opportunity, and economic empowerment are the values I was raised with and what guides my work as your State Treasurer,” Goldberg told the crowd. “I am proud of what we have accomplished and am excited to continue to work for the people of Massachusetts as your Treasurer.”

In introducing Goldberg, DeLeo said, “Deb understands that the role of the Treasurer’s office is not just about dollars and cents; it is about making people’s lives better.  The programs she has created have had a positive impact for our children, our families, our veterans and seniors across this Commonwealth. Deb Goldberg has made good on all the promises she made when she ran, and she has truly made a difference in people’s lives.”

DeLeo continued, “Massachusetts is lucky to have Deb Goldberg as our Treasurer. I know she can and she will do even more for our Commonwealth and our residents in the future.”

Since taking office in January of 2015, Deb Goldberg has brought a commonsense business approach to the management of the treasury’s various offices.  Leading on initiatives that include wage equality, increasing diversity, and expanding access to financial education, she has also helped families save for college, protected the state’s pension fund and developed programs for veterans and seniors.  For more information, contact Treasurer Goldberg’s campaign at info@debgoldberg.com.

Read More