The Chelsea High School Class of 2018 will hold its Commencement Ceremonies Sunday at 1 p.m. at the high school.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Bourque will address the large gathering and offer her official congratulations to the graduates.
City Manager Thomas Ambrosino and School Committee Chairperson Jeanette Velez will also be part of the ceremony.
Former CHS director of athletics Frank DePatto said he is looking forward to attending the ceremony for the first time in his capacity as a member of the School Committee.
“I know this class very well and they are an accomplished group academically and athletically,” said DePatto. “I look forward to being present as our graduates attain this important milestone in their lives. Graduation represents the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another. I wish the graduates continued success as they move on to college, the military, and the work force.”
The Chelsea Public Schools are making some big moves at the end of this school year, with the biggest news being Chelsea High Principal Priti Johari moving to the Central Office from CHS to an assistant superintendent position.
Her departure from CHS follows the departure of Assistant Principal Ron Schmidt – who now will lead the new alternative high school within CHS.
“I am announcing that effective July 1, 2018, Chelsea High School Principal, Priti Johari, will be promoted to the position of Assistant Superintendent for Strategic Programs and Accountability,” wrote Supt. Mary Bourque. “To replace Ms. Johari, we will be posting for principal candidates as soon as possible. We are also convening a ‘Selection Committee’ to do the first round of interviews. The job of the Selection Committee will be to narrow the field of possible candidates to the top 2-3 highest qualified for me to interview. I will choose from the 2-3 finalists.”
Bourque told the Record that right now the Committee is looking at five or six semi-finalists. She said they would forward two names to her soon, and she expected that an announcement could come as soon as Friday.
She said with two key leaders at CHS leaving, the thought of a slip-back is on some people’s minds, but she said they are prepared not to let that happen.
“One of the good things we’ve put into the CPS is we build the system so that we collaborate very well,” she said. “One of the things about Chelsea is because of our turnover, we have gotten very good at picking things up quick and making sure they don’t go back…As superintendent, that’s why you always build a deep bench.”
Another piece of big news is that Principal Maggie Sanchez Gleason is leaving the Kelly School as her husband has received a promotion that requires them to move to London.
That opened up the position for Assistant Principal Lisa Lineweaver, who is a former School Committee member and a Chelsea resident. Lineweaver has two children in the schools and came to Chelsea last year after teaching in Boston for many years.
In the realm of retirements, the biggest news is that long time Director of Administration and Finance Gerry McCue will be retiring.
Bourque said she is still looking for a replacement for him, and will be engaging the Collins Center from UMass Boston to help locate and choose replacements. The Collins Center was engaged by the City Council a few years ago to help choose a city manager.
Other notable retirements include:
The six Central Office and district wide administrators retiring are:
Tina Sullivan, Director of Human Resources
Linda Breau, Deputy Superintendent (who will be moving to Human Resources for one year before retiring).
Linda Alioto Robinson, Director of REACH
Miguel Andreottola, Director of Technology
AnnMarie LaPuma, Director of Assessment and Planning
For Andreottola, Bourque announced this week that long-time resident Rich Pilcher has been promoted to director of technology. Pilcher is also a Chelsea High graduate.
On May 31st, members of the Chelsea Collaborative, Chelsea city councilors, workers rights activists and Chelsea Community members gathered for the unveiling of the Chelsea Collaborative’s new workers rights mural. The mural creator, artist Nancy Guevara met with members of the Chelsea Latino Immigrant Committee an Environmental Chelsea Organizers a several times over the past few months to create the design for the mural.
The mural is part of a statewide education campaign to bring more awareness to the worker’s rights violations that immigrant workers face throughout Massachusetts. Organizations like the Collaborative, have long been fighting issues of wage theft, especially in industries with a high level of subcontracting, where cleaning, construction and
Artist Nancy Guevara speaks during the unveiling of the Worker’s Rights mural at the Collaborative on May 31.
painting workers often see their wages and overtime stolen by predatory subcontractors.
Currently, a coalition made up of local unions, workers centers like the Collaborative, and the Boston-based organization Community Labor United is pushing a bill that would further protect sub-contracted immigrant workers. Representative Dan Ryan and Senator Sal DiDomenico, who is the co-sponsor of the bill, both attended the mural unveiling and spoke about the importance of continuing to fight for the rights of immigrant workers. At noon on Thursday June 23rd, workers, union members and other supporters of the bill will gather for a Wage Theft Speakout on the steps of the State House to call on their Senators and Representatives to pass the bill. For more information and the action and the problem of wage theft, check out www.StopMassWageTheft.org.
The mural also seeks to highlight the strength workers find through culture, community unity and organizing and features figures modeled after active members of the Chelsea Latino Immigrant Committee and Somali Bantu Girls Group. As artist Nancy Guevara wrote in the inscription accompanying the mural, “This mural celebrates the different cultures found in this city and our shared commitment to hard work and a passion for justice. Together, we weave our future, our battle giving us the strength to fight and move on. We need fairly paid and dignified work in order to realize and inherit our dreams. We came to this country to live the American dream, but we have realized it was not for us, but with the strands of our battle, our collective voices amplified and the power of our love and effort, we continue to demand the right to dream.”
Anyone interested in taking a look at the worker’s rights mural, should feel free to visit the Collaborative anytime between 10 and 5pm. The mural is meant to be an inspiration for all in our community to keep on fighting for a more just and equitable city where all workers and community members are treated with respect and dignity.
Over the last few years, the Chelsea Shines event on Earth Day has brought out hundreds of people to help spruce up the City at the start of spring, but participants in the effort, such as Sharon Fosbury and Mike Sandoval, said there had been a growing sense of dissatisfaction with even
Members of the Community Enhancement Team (CET), and offshoot of Chelsea Shines, have decided to volunteer their time year round to make a lasting and consistent difference in targeted areas of the City. Here, they are seen focusing on the Willows on Marlborough Street – an overlook with a guardrail that has for decades been littered with trash and illegal dumping. Members pictured here include Councilor Enio Lopez, Sharon Fosbury, Mike Sandoval, Ellen Godfrey and others.
While surveys did show it helped build morale and positive views of the neighborhoods, all the work was often for not in just a few hours.
“We did surveys and found that after people participated in Chelsea Shines, they did feel like they had more power to make a difference in their community and they were more receptive to recommending their neighborhood as a place for people to move to,” said Fosbury. “However, another thing we started to notice is that after a week, and sometimes even within the same day, it didn’t seem like we’d even been there to clean. The place had been trashed again and looked the same as when we started. We changed the perceptions, yes, but not the behaviors. We want to do this kind of effort and do it in a way where the work will be sustained all year.”
Sandoval, who works for the City but is volunteering his time to the new effort as a resident, combined efforts with Fosbury – who works for The Neighborhood Developers and is a resident of Chelsea – to create the new Community Enhancement Team (CET). It acts like a division of the Chelsea Shines program, but stays in overdrive long after the annual, larger Earth Day efforts.
Sadoval said it’s something that has been about residents organizing themselves, wanting nothing but the City’s blessing to make things better.
“This is not just about saying things; it’s about being a doer,” he said, sweat coming from his brow as he dumped donated coffee grounds onto newly-planted sunflowers last week. “It’s about getting something done that lasts. We don’t want the DPW to do the clean up. We want to engage in it by ourselves. It’s our community and we want to make it better ourselves. We just need the help and support of the City in small ways.”
The CET has focused on shortening the effort and bringing the community into the fold in that smaller patch of Earth.
First, they have concentrated on the Willows – a guardrail area on Marlborough Street that overlooks the Chelsea Creek and has been known as a dumping ground for decades. Beginning on April 16, they reported to the short stretch and began to do things little by little.
On that first day, curious neighbors in the area who have kept their properties immaculate despite the filth on the streets outside their fences. Families like the England family and others in the area slowly began wondering what they could do to help.
“On the first day we went there, it was just filthy,” said Fosbury. “We found seat cushions, used hypodermic needles, asphalt chunks, cell phones and we even had to call the police because we found a machete that looked pretty serious,” she said.
The group came back on Earth Day, April 23, and neighbors started joining the effort.
They’ve had cleaning sessions, weeding sessions and recently they started planting sunflowers along the ugly chain link fence that breaks up a remarkable northward view. They have also fortified the soil continuously using spent coffee ground donated by Common Ground coffee shop on the Everett Parkway.
“We’re just an informal group that wants to make the City look better,” said Fosbury. “On April 16th, this was a complete dumping ground. Now, it’s sunflowers. One day cleanups are only so successful. But when you go back and back and back, it’s sustainable. Maybe not this year, but maybe next year we might have that entire fence covered with sunflowers. Then we’ve changed the way the place looks.”
Added Sandoval, “And we don’t do it with an effort of hundreds of people. It’s been a few people here and there helping out consistently. People are coming out one day to spread coffee grounds, and then other people will come out another time to do weeding. The reward we get is simply making the community we live in look better. We get to see these flowers instead of trash. Next year we’re going to have sunflowers and lilies coming up. We know it’s our community and we want the rest of the community to buy into it and we can do it ourselves.”
In between work at the Willows, the CET has also spent time doing routine clean ups in Bellingham Square, Broadway and Kayem Park – a much larger effort that they said they will continue also with regularity.
In addition to the smaller, consistent effort by the CET, City Manager Tom Ambrosino has planted the seed for a Chelsea Beautification Committee – a similar group to what he and the community in Revere formed back in 2001 when he first became mayor of that City.
The Committee is comprised at the moment by CET, TND, Chelsea Greenspace, the ECO Youth Team, and other interested parties.
Each month they meet with Ambrosino to go over issues like problem properties, potholes, unsightly City properties, areas to enhance and new initiatives they want to start. At the same time, they keep a list of issues that have been discussed and not resolved. By maintaining that list and providing updates on the status of each item at the meetings, there has evolved an accountability for getting the big and small things done.
At the moment, the Beautification Committee has decided to focus on the initiatives of eliminating cigarette butts from Bellingham Square and dog waste from the entire City.
“One small thing is the cigarette butts, which don’t compost and aren’t biodegradable,” said Fosbury. “We want to keep them off the streets, but at the same time there are cigarette receptacles in Bellingham Square for people to put the butts into. We certainly don’t want them in the trash because they could cause a fire. That’s the kinds of small changes that could lead to a bigger change in the way things look.”
The biggest thing is that the community has brought about the efforts, both Sandoval and Fosbury said.
“This is the community speaking and it’s not coming from the top down,” said Sandoval. “When we had members of the community working to clean up the Willows, and then we got the Mass DOT (Department of Transportation) to pitch in and clean up the other side of the fence, it was just an incredible feeling of community and working together to do something that will last.”
Added Fosbury, “It’s not 100 people, but rather 10 or 12 people making a big difference. By making these consistent efforts, we believe people will see this isn’t a dumping ground and someone is caring for these places. We are setting a model and being consistent with it. That’s how you change behaviors and changing behaviors is the hardest thing to do.”
Massachusetts has long been a leader in education, public health, and innovation. However, when it comes to ensuring that all our children have a chance to succeed, we still have much work to do.
To start with, it’s time that Massachusetts gets serious about guaranteeing that every child has a right to a high quality early education. Experts agree that quality early education is a vital indicator of a child’s future success and a key component to closing the achievement gap between high and low income students. Yet, here in the Commonwealth, and an estimated forty percent of 3 and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in any formal preschool program.
Furthermore, far too many children show up for pre-Kindergarten already behind, and many of them are never able to catch up. More than 40% of third graders are unable to read proficiently and, among students from low income families, that statistic is at a disturbing 61%. Reading coaches, specialized literacy programs, and summer programs, for example, have all shown great promise in helping to close the achievement gap among students, but specialized help often never reaches the children who need it most.
Additionally, when discussing how we can support our children, we tend to overlook how important it is to also support their parents and families as a whole. Programs such as home visits, prenatal support groups, fatherhood initiatives, and pediatrician outreach have all been shown to have a beneficial impact on a child’s future outcome; yet, once again, too many parents do not have access to such programs, or are unaware of how to utilize them.
There is no greater investment we can make than one for our children, and it is time that we commit our actions today to developing a brighter future for them.
My colleagues and I in the Senate are well aware that the future success of our Commonwealth depends on the success of our children, which is why we have kicked off 2016 with the launch of a new initiative to help identify proven policies and strategies, and to strive toward best outcomes for each and every child across our state.
Kids First, which I am honored to lead, will take a comprehensive and interdisciplinary look at a wide variety of policy areas relating to supporting children, with a strong focus on early childhood development from prenatal through the fourth grade. By creating an open dialogue among experts, policymakers, and stakeholders alike, we can develop a holistic approach to supporting strong, resilient children and families. This initiative will not only explore and identify the best practices and investments we can make for our children today, it will also pinpoint the long-term actions we can take that will put future generations on the path to productive adulthood.
With these goals in mind, we also recognize that every child is different; they come from varying backgrounds with unique needs, and we must take all of those factors into consideration. There is no single path to success for every child, nor is there a single answer to the various challenges we face.
Fortunately, we will not have to look far for help. We have an abundance of local organizations doing incredible work for the children of Massachusetts, and we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to tap them for their expertise on the many different areas we must consider and address.
The goal of Kids First is ambitious, and there is a lot of ground to cover. I have often been asked how we can afford the many different policy proposals that have been offered over the years to support kids across the Commonwealth. My answer to them: how can we not afford to invest in our children?
Senator Sal DiDomenico is Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and he has represented the Middlesex and Suffolk District since 2010..
A ROYAL THANKSGIVING: The Chelsea Collaborative and St. Luke’s-San Lucas Church held a cooperative Thanksgiving Dinner last Tuesday, Nov. 17, for a select group of needy families – including many residents from the flooded areas in the Broadway Glen apartment tower. The crowded church hall was warm with pre-Thanksgiving cheer as volunteers and friends came together for a special meal. Pictured here are Emerson Vasquez, School Committee- elect Yessenia Alfaro-Alvarez, Councillor-elect Roy Avellaneda, Erika Ruiz (Miss Belleza Latina USA) and Kashly Reyes (Miss Teen Belleza Latina USA).
School Committeeman Carlos Rodriguez has been missing from School Committee meetings since the beginning of the year, and formal and informal efforts to reach him have gone nowhere, school officials said.
Now, they said they will begin the unprecedented process of having to remove a member of the School Committee for, basically, being absent without leave.
Rodriguez has represented District 3 on the Committee for several years, and has been an active member, but recently he has gone missing. There were rumors that he moved to New York City, but Vice Chair Edward Ells said that couldn’t be officially confirmed. Informal efforts to reach out to him also went unheeded.
Last Thursday, the Committee held a meeting with City Solicitor Cheryl Fisher Watson to discuss how to proceed.
“We instinctively knew what we should do, but then there’s what you’re empowered to do,” said Ells. “There no clear language in the City Charter or in our rules to deal with the situation we’re in. Postscript, we’ll probably look to adjust this in our rules. We certainly aren’t taking this lightly. In the absence of anything else, there’s this moral obligation to take some action. It is a district that is now without representation. So, we’re planning to have a public hearing.”
Ells said that would trigger a process that would alert the City Council.
That process has occurred in the past with the School Committee where a vacancy has occurred and the Council and Committee accepted applications and picked a replacement.
That process will be followed once again unless Rodriguez materializes and explains his absence.
The public hearing will take place at the regular monthly meeting, on May 7, at 6:30 p.m.
Members of the City Manager Screening Committee are (left to right) Barbara Salisbury, Juan Vega and Mary Bourque. Not pictured is the fourth member, Sharon Caulfield.
The next time anyone speaks to the recently nominated members of the City Manager Screening Committee about their work on the Committee, their work will be done. After getting the okay from the City Council Monday night, three of the four members said they are ready to roll up their sleeves and begin the hard work. That hard work entails some 20 to 30 hours of meetings and sifting through resumes to choose four or five finalists out of what is believed to be about 30 candidates. That work will be done in private, however, and the Committee will not be talking publicly about their progress or the details of their internal decisions. So, what happens in the Screening Committee, stays in the Screening Committee. The essence of their work will start after the deadline for applications, which is next Tuesday, March 31. It will end when they recommend finalists to the City Council, who will be charged with making the final selection. Those picked for the Committee are School Supt. Mary Bourque, Chelsea Housing Authority Board member Barbara Salisbury, Bunker Hill Community College Chelsea Campus official Sharon Caulfield and Centro Latino’s Juan Vega. All are Chelsea residents. Three alternates include Molly Baldwin, Jim D’Amico and Ted Coates. The local Committee will be joined by former Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch and the staff of the Collins Center – the City’s contracted search firm. Right off the bat on Monday, members of the Committee said they were grateful to have been chosen for the important task, but also said they have concerns. “I’m concerned there might not be that many or the kind of candidates we’d like to see,” said Salisbury. “I don’t know if we’ve really marketed it that well or reached out to the right places. The person we’re seeking isn’t somebody probably who is reading the want ads, but someone who is a highly sought after leader. I don’t know what we can do about that. This is a very strategic decision for Chelsea…I bought my house in 1979 here when there were still pool halls on Fourth Street…I don’t think I ever thought Chelsea could become what it is today. A lot of great things happened under the leadership of Jay Ash. We want someone who can build on that.” Vega said the importance of the decision cannot be overstated. He said that having witnessed the changes to City government in the 1990s, he realizes just what is at stake and the anxiety in the public for the possibility of slipping backward if the right leader isn’t chosen. “This is such an important and historic decision because it’s been such a long time,” he said. “At stake is the continuity of the charter change we had in 1994. It’s our task to understand the importance of that and make sure the charter prevails. I really want to thank the Council on behalf of all of us for entrusting the task to us.” Bourque said she will be looking for leaders who have a vision. She said having a charismatic person in charge would be a piece of the puzzle, but long-term systems that will stand the test of time are what she is looking for. “We really need someone who shows the kind of leadership that brings people into the conversation and builds on their strengths,” she said. “It will be a person who wants to build systems for long-term sustainability. Really, it’s not about the leader being with us forever, but the systems that person leaves behind.” Salisbury agreed, “There are problems facing many areas of the city, but we’ve made tremendous progress in those areas…It’s going to be somebody who has a shared vision that can be successful and can show what works and can use this as a model nationwide for what works. You’re also not starting from scratch.” Vega noted that the Screening Committee isn’t mandated in the charter, and there is not a requirement that the City Council create such a Committee. However, to make sure to attract the best candidates and keep the initial process anonymous, the Council chose to institute the Committee. He said that shows just how serious they are about getting the best and brightest. “This is one, if not the, most important roles of the Council – to pick a city manager,” he said. “The understanding and wisdom to delegate the process, in part, speaks to the fact that they really want to give anonymity to candidates that are applying in order to attract high-quality candidates.” The Committee will convene weekly after full applications are received on March 31. They will also engage in an off-site interview process with prospective candidates that is said to last an entire weekend
City Councillor Brian Hatleberg said he has taken the baton from Council President Leo Robinson and is ready to run with it in terms of choosing the all-important Screening Committee for the City Manager selection process.
Robinson designated Hatleberg the chair of the Committee last week, and he joins three other councillors, including Joe Perlatonda, Calvin Brown and Dan Cortell. This week, Hatleberg said a schedule has been outlined and he and his colleagues are ready to choose the best and brightest in the City to serve on the panel. The panel, known as the Screening Committee, will be charged to work with the Collins Center to weed out resumes in intensive executive (private) sessions. They will likely take 30 or 40 resumes and whittle them down to four or five finalists.
Hatleberg said getting just the right people will be paramount.
“I can tell you already we have probably had about 10 resumes submitted and 50 people express interest in some way, shape or form for this Screening Committee,” he said. “The goal is to put in place a Screening Committee that broadly represents the community from many perspectives. It is something like a ‘Blue Chip Panel’ that everyone in the community can look at, recognize and say, ‘I trust those guys.’…It will be people with some pretty deep experience.”
Hatleberg said his Committee will choose four people.
A fifth member of the Committee will be former Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch, who will serve voluntarily to provide perspective from a former city manager. Lynch participated in a public forum in January put on by several non-profits to discuss the duties and properties of a good city manager.
“We brought him in on this because we want someone who has been a city manager and has perspective as to what it takes to execute the details of the job,” he said.
The process will happen fast, Hatleberg said.
“We will present a slate of four people to the City Council for a vote on March 23 for the Screening Committee,” he said. “The deadline for city manager applications to be in is March 31 so our Committee will need to be ready to go by then.”
That means time is of the essence for anyone interested in serving on the Committee.
Hatleberg said he has scheduled a meeting for March 9, after the regular City Council meeting, to begin public discussion of the Screening Committee. Another meeting will happen the next day on March 10 for any carryover issues.
“The goal right now is to get the message out to the public that if anyone has interest in being on the Screening Committee, we are asking them to send us a letter of interest, a resume or something like that before that March 9 meeting,” he said.
Before putting one’s name in the hat for consideration, the time commitment must be considered.
Hatleberg said it would be about a 20-hour commitment in a very compressed time period.
Once all of the applications are in, he said the Collins Center would probably conduct an entire weekend, Saturday and Sunday, of off-site interviews with candidates.
The would also be two weekly meetings to commit to.
Anyone who is interested in being considered for the Screening Committee should e-mail a letter of interest and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are rolling,” Hatleberg said. “The Collins Center has pamphlet out there and the ads are out there. The position of city manager is being advertised now.”