An Amazing Job:Supt Mary Bourque Announces Retirement Plans for 2019

An Amazing Job:Supt Mary Bourque Announces Retirement Plans for 2019

School Supt. Mary Bourque announced this week that she will retire from the Chelsea Public Schools within the coming year, an announcement that few expected outside of Bourque’s inner circle.

Bourque met with the Human Resources Subcommittee of the School Committee on Thursday night, Dec. 20, and informed them of her decision to retire in December 2019.

“I am giving the School Committee 12 months’ notice to give them time to unify around a process to look for and support the next superintendent,” she wrote. “As for me, I will continue over the next 12 months to advocate, champion, and innovate for all our students, families, and staff. I will continue to build the systems that will outlive all of us. Together, we will continue to have Chelsea’s presence known and heard at the State House advocating for equal access, opportunities, social justice, and adequate funding. We will as Chelsea educators continue to be known and highly respected.”

The news traveled fast throughout the community, and many praised the job Bourque has done over the last seven years as superintendent.

“Mary has done an amazing job and her position is not easy,” said Council President Damali Vidot. “Every year she has to do more with less resources. Chelsea has been going through a lot of changes  and with her retirement, it’s an opportunity to get another person who has some connection to Chelsea or has a connection to the demographics of the school system. It’s a very hard job.”

Bourque didn’t elaborate on what her post-retirement plans are, but even after having served more than 30 years in the Chelsea Schools, she is not at the typical retirement age.

She said she would continue to serve Chelsea students in the field of education, perhaps hinting at a larger state-wide position.

“Upon retirement I plan to continue to serve Chelsea students and all children in the Commonwealth through the field of education,” she wrote. “I am and have always been a wife, mother, and teacher; I will never stop being all three. I still have much to contribute to the world of education and much to learn. I will never stop giving back and seeking to make the world a more equitable place for our students and families.”

Likewise, she said she has given advance notice so that she can support the School Committee in the superintendent search process. She stated she is fully committed to supporting the School Committee as they begin and carry out a “robust” search for a new superintendent. She also said she would be around to help put together a transition plan.

“My goal for all of us is that this transition will be smooth and seamless; we will not lose ground in all that we have built and achieved,” she wrote. “Our Chelsea Public Schools Five-Year Vision will be attained.”

Bourque was chosen as superintendent in 2011, and has served in that role since. Prior to that, she was the leader of the Clark Avenue School when it became transitioned to the old high school, and she was a teacher for many years before that.

Bourque has deep roots in Chelsea, and still lives in the city – as do many of her relatives.

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Chelsea Cultural Council Grants to Support Art and Cultural Projects

Chelsea Cultural Council Grants to Support Art and Cultural Projects

Chelsea Cultural Council has received $21,900 from the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) a state agency, to assist public projects that promote access, education, diversity and excellence in the arts, humanities and sciences.

Council members will be available to discuss grant procedure and guidelines on Monday, September 24 from 2-6 p.m. in the lobby of the Williams Building, 180 Walnut Street.

Organizations, schools, individuals are encouraged to apply for grant funds that can be used to support a variety of artistic and cultural projects that benefit citizens in Chelsea – including field trips, exhibits, festivals, short-term arts residencies or performances in schools as well as cultural workshops and lectures.  Projects awarded must be implemented between January, 2019 and December 31, 2019.

The deadline for completed Online Application must be received by October 15, 2018.

Online Application is available at  www.mass-culture.org/chelsea.  Guidelines can be picked up at Chelsea City Hall, Dept. of Health & Human Services, Room 100 or find it at  www.chelseama.gov/ccc.  For additional information call (617) 466-4090 or email  culturalcouncil@chelseama.gov.

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Celebrating Pride in Our Communities

Celebrating Pride in Our Communities

Every June, our communities come together to celebrate Pride Month, a tradition that grows stronger every year. In 1989, Massachusetts became the second state to pass a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry. Our state has always been a national leader on defending LGBTQ rights, and I’m proud of our communities’ work and reputation as a place that promotes inclusion and acceptance.

As we celebrate Pride in our communities, we look at how far we have come as a country, and how far we have to go. In Washington, Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress are trying to roll back the gains the LGBTQ community has fought so hard to make. As your representative in Congress, you have my promise: I’ll never stop fighting for equal rights for everyone.

Last June, I sat down with bipartisan leaders at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute to focus on advocacy and activism within the LGBTQ community in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. The theme of the panel was “stronger together” — despite the people that try to drive a wedge between communities, we are the strongest when we stand united in the face of discrimination. That’s a value I truly believe in.

The LGBTQ community is no stranger to fighting for their rights, and I’m proud that I’ve supported my constituents on the issues that matter. This includes co-sponsoring legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act; fighting against defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman; working to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell; supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; and supporting the right of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents to sponsor same-sex spouses for green cards before court decisions upheld that right.

I’m proud of my 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign, but even prouder of the fact that when I served as Somerville’s mayor, I fought hard for equal benefits, including fighting against insurance companies who refused to extend benefits to same-sex couples. As mayor, I was successful in redefining who was eligible for extended maximum bereavement leave to include domestic partners — and all these fights came before our laws allowed or required these actions.

Today, we’ve come far. On Saturday, I’m honored to march in the 48th Pride Parade in Boston. 48 years of celebrating who people are, who they love, and the battles we’ve had to fight to make our city, our state and our nation a place where inclusion and acceptance are the norm, not the exception. I know we have work to do here in Massachusetts, and around our country. And during Pride Week in Massachusetts, I’m proud to join the LGBTQ community and celebrate what makes each and every person unique.

Happy Pride Parade, Pride Week and Pride Month — and here’s to another year of creating more opportunities for all.

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School Shuffle:Several Key Members of the CPS Make Moves

School Shuffle:Several Key Members of the CPS Make Moves

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.

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Gov Baker Signs Bill to Fund New Quigley Hospital at Chelsea Soldiers’ Home

Gov Baker Signs Bill to Fund New Quigley Hospital at Chelsea Soldiers’ Home

Gov. Charlie Baker signed a capital bond bill on Tuesday that increases bond authorization by $244 million to support initiatives across the Commonwealth, including construction of a new long-term care facility at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home.

“This bill funds critical projects across the Commonwealth, including the Last Mile broadband project and money for the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home renovation project,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We thank the Legislature for bringing us one step closer to updating the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home for our veterans.”

The bond legislation signed Tuesday includes $199 million to replace the long-term care facility at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, which is expected to be partially reimbursed by the federal government pending final approval from the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill also directs the administration to study the long-term needs of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke.

“The Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea provides comprehensive, quality health care and residential services with honor, dignity and respect to the Commonwealth’s veterans,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “The upgrades to the Soldiers’ Home  ensure that the physical plant meets modern health care requirements commensurate with the needs of our veterans.”

On May 31, Gov. Baker filed egislation to address immediate capital needs statewide, including $950 million for higher education projects, $880 million for construction, renovations, and accessibility improvements at state office buildings, $700 million for health and human services facilities, $550 million for public safety facilities and $375 million for court facilities. While the legislation signed Tuesday includes authorization for the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, several items from this bill remain pending.

“We are pleased to see authorization for the replacement of the Quigley Hospital at Chelsea Soldiers’ Home passed, which was proposed in our capital budget plan,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. “By leveraging the use of significant federal resources to build the new facility, we optimize the value of the Commonwealth’s capital investment in this project.”

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Workers in 911,Backed by Unions,Vote No Confidence in Alpert

By Seth Daniel

The entire Chelsea 911 dispatch team, backed by the presidents of the Fire Union and Patrolmen’s Union, announced at Monday’s City Council meeting they have voted ‘no confidence’ in their long-time manager Allan Alpert and his assistant Robert Verdone.

During the Public Speaking portion of the Council meeting on Monday, eight telecommunicators from 911 appeared and read a prepared statement outlining what they said were years of harassment and micromanagement by a management team that had no experience in 911 operations. The also announced a vote of ‘no confidence’ in management.

“We come to you this evening to ask for help,” read a member of the union. “To put it simply, we can no longer stand silently by and allow the management of our department to continue their long standing practices of harassment, bullying, second guessing, interrogation, and blatant disregard for the well-being of this group to continue. We are dejected, demoralized and quite frankly, despite the combined 184 years of service that we have given this City, we now detest coming in to work…Our supervisors, Director Alpert and Assistant Director Verdone are not, nor have they ever been, 911 dispatchers for this City…Despite not knowing how to do all this, we are constantly critiqued, reprimanded, second guessed and told that we are in the wrong at an alarming rate…We, the dispatchers of Chelsea 911, in a unanimous vote, have no confidence in the abilities of Director Allan Alpert and Assistant Director Robert Verdone to adequately supervise, manage and retain the highly skilled communications professionals that make up our group. We fear the culture of harassment and bullying will continue unchecked without our speaking up…”

Alpert was not able to be present at the meeting to hear the critique due to it being a Jewish high holiday, but even had it not been, he said later he was “blindsided” by the action.

“I was totally blindsided when I got a report on the presentation Monday night,” Alpert said on Wednesday morning in a phone interview. “I have not heard any complaints at all with our union steward with regard to emergency operations or being bullied. We have strong and stringent ethics on workplace situations. To bully somebody here is a very serious charge. No one has complained to Human Resources, the City Manager or me.”

He said he respects the work of the telecommunicators, but indicated they may not understand all the requirements and mandates put on his office by the state.

“I have all the respect in the world for our 911 telecommunicators,” he said. “Sometimes people don’t understand the difference between management and operations. Our job is to ensure the delivery of service. Sometimes in this business or any other business, the labor side has a different opinion of what they should be doing. On the labor side, they don’t know our requirements and what is mandated from us. We’re constantly getting updates from fire and police and state 911 for things we have to do.”

Said Verdone, “We maintain an open door policy and anyone can come talk to us in confidence at any time.”

Said Alpert, “They don’t always understand everything we do and obviously it’s had a negative effect on operations. But no one has ever approached us to tell us this was a problem. We were blindsided.”

However, the powerful Fire Union and Police Patrolmen’s Union were on hand Monday night to back up the 911 dispatchers, and had some very powerful words in opposition to Alpert’s management.

“We stand in support of the 911 dispatchers,” said Brian Capistran, president of the Firefighter’s Union. “The (manager and assistant manager) may see this no confidence vote as a medal of honor…You on the Council should be very concerned about what you just heard…I’ve been up here many times and told not to get involved in daily operations. This is a problem. You were elected to be a voice. This is when you have to be that voice. It’s not who is playing on what field or someone who has dumped trash on Grove Street. These are the issues you should pay attention to…If they’re not safe, we’re not safe. We hope you will ask City Manager Ambrosino to look into it and have an investigation.”

Mark O’Connor, president of the Police Patrolmen’s Union, said his membership also supports the dispatchers.

“I’m here out of loyalty to the dispatchers,” he said. “I’m also here out of concern…I think you should take this seriously.”

The dispatchers added that they hoped the Council would look into the actions of Alpert and Verdone.

“We ask this Council to look into these actions, inactions, expenditures and operations of this department and assist us with a solution that will allow us to continue to serve, which is all we want to do,” read the letter. “We are not seeking monetary compensation, more benefits nor staffing increase, just the ability to do our job unhindered…”

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CAPIC Wins Bid for City’s Wrap-Around Services

City officials awarded a bid to Chelsea’s CAPIC for wrap-around services to help the homeless and addicted communities that often loiter in Bellingham Square.

A similar bid for clinical services to help the same communities is expected to be awarded to Bay Cove Human Services in the next few days.

The bid for $100,000 went to CAPIC this week to provide immediate services when City Navigators need services referrals for clients wishing to get help. The City has two Navigators, with one position currently vacant, that work with the homeless and drug-addicted people that congregate in Bellingham Square to get to know them and to be an outstretched hand offered to those who may decide they want help.

Currently Rev. Ruben Rodriguez is the City’s lone Navigator.

“This will be about making sure Navigators now have a lot of resources when they engage someone in need of help,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “We’re probably won’t see the fruits of this for six months. We’re certainly going to track the work and what resources we’re providing. That’s part of the contract – to keep track of the metrics.”

Ambrosino said the bid award had nothing to do with a once-controversial proposal for a walk-in center by CAPIC in the old Cataldo Building on Hawthorne Street. That idea has been removed from the table by CAPIC, which is searching for an alternate location.

Ambrosino said the award means there would be priority services available to the Navigators when they pick up the phone and have a client who needs help.

“It will mean that they get immediate attention when they drive a client down or pick up the phone,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Bay Cove award would involve having dedicated beds available to the Navigators for detox. Where that detox would occur was not spelled out and it is up to Bay Cove to provide those beds in a nearby location.

Ambrosino said he hopes that a second Navigator could soon be put in place by North Suffolk Mental Health, which has the contract to supply the City with Navigators. A second Navigator was in place at one point, but that person moved on to a new position. Since that time, Rodriguez has been carrying the task alone.

“It has been a slow process, but we hope to get another Navigator out there soon,” he said.

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Congratulations,East Boston Neighborhood Health Center

We congratulate the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center on being named as one of the “Top Places To Work” in Massachusetts by the Boston Globe.

What a great honor it was for EBNHC Chief Executive Officer Manny Lopes, Chair Rita Sorrento, Human Resources Director Linda Dailey, Chief Medical Director Jackie Fuentes, and Vice President of Operations Lili Silva to accept the award during the formal presentation ceremony.

Certainly this prestigious award given by New England’s largest daily newspaper reflects well on the leadership of Lopes and his administrative team.

Lopes said that “a close-knit community culture and a passion that our employees have for making a difference in the lives of our patients that making working here special.”

The Globe praised EBNHC for “its innovative ways to engage and motivate their workers, which often serves as a key factor in innovation and leads to better professional performance.”

EBNHC has been a tremendous contributor to many local organizations, not only with its actions and its support, but with the presence of Manny Lopes and EBHNC employees such as Michael Nicastro and others at various events in our community.

We are pleased that the Globe has brought this favorable recognition to EBNHC, one of the largest employers in the area.

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Secretary Sudders at Chamber Breakfast

Secretary Sudders at Chamber Breakfast

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State Secretary for Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders (center in photo) was the guest speaker at the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce Spring Breakfast Wednesday at the Wyndham Hotel. Pictured at the breakfast, from left, are State Secretary for Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash, Saritin Rizzuto, Secretary Marylou Sudders, Executive Officer of Community Colleges Bill Hart, and Chamber President Dennis Cataldo.

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Job Fair Brings Hope, Excitement

Job Fair Brings Hope, Excitement

Human Resources workers interview Chelsea residents John Rosado (foreground) and "Jimmy" (back) at the Feb. 6 job fair for Chelsea residents seeking work at the upcoming hotel projects.

Human Resources workers interview Chelsea residents John Rosado (foreground) and “Jimmy”
(back) at the Feb. 6 job fair for Chelsea residents seeking work at the upcoming hotel
projects.

With the groundbreaking of the new Holiday Inn on Beech Street just months away, contractors began looking for workers – and due to an agreement between the City and the developers – the search started in Chelsea.

A job fair seeking Chelsea residents to work on the Holiday Inn and Towne Suites hotel projects took place at City Hall Thursday, Feb. 6, and it brought out a good amount of interested residents who have experience and were looking for a good job close by.

“I’ve worked in the construction field for a long time and I’m seeking employment right now so this fit,” John Rosado told the Record. “It being in Chelsea makes it so much better. I’ve been in Chelsea 48 years, I’m a resident and my family owns property here. They’re finally giving people in Chelsea the first chance to get these jobs. I think it’s great. If it’s being built in Chelsea, Chelsea people should be building it.”

That same sentiment was shared by a long time resident who identified himself only as Jimmy.

He said he moved to Chelsea from New York City in 1969, and found lots of opportunities initially, but has found the recent downturn to make things rather tough for him and others in the construction field.

When he heard of an opportunity to work locally, he said he was really excited and applied for jobs related to HVAC and carpentry.

“I’m a resident here and I have two kids,” he said. “I’m 53 and I was so happy to open up the paper and see an opportunity to work in my hometown. It’s good news Chelsea is doing this. I remember the days when it was good for employment in Chelsea, but then it changed for years. For a long time, we haven’t had this in Chelsea and it’s been very dry here for jobs. It’s really been hard to find work. This is an awesome opportunity though, and Chelsea is really changing. I’m glad they’re letting us get a shot at these jobs.”

Construction on both hotels is believed to be just around the corner, with a tentatively planned April 1 ribbon cutting ceremony for the Towne Suites on Eastern Avenue. The Holiday Inn site is currently being remediated of polluted soil, but should be ready for construction this summer. Both projects will offer several construction jobs for local workers.

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