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.”
Another harsh New England winter has thankfully come to an end. As the colder time of year comes to a close, allergy season is right around the corner. Itchy and watery eyes, runny noses, coughing and sneezing, and pollen make for a difficult few months for many as we all try to enjoy the outdoors and warmer weather.
More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. In order to prepare for seasonal allergies, CHA ENT physician Ayesha Khalid, MD, FACS and Jaime Silva, PA-C, at CHA Cambridge Hospital, provide an update on what to expect this season by answering several common questions.
Are allergies the same for everyone?
People’s pollen allergies can vary between seasons. However, some allergies can last throughout the year if they are allergic to dust mites, animal dander, and molds.
What is the difference between allergies and a cold?
Allergy symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, and nose are triggered by histamine. A cold is a viral infection.
How are allergies treated?
Allergies are usually treated with medications known as antihistamines. Some symptoms can be treated with nasal steroids or pseudoephedrine. If allergy symptoms are not well controlled with medication or if symptoms last throughout the year allergy shots or allergy drops can be considered.
What other strategies can people use?
Studies show effective measures of controlling dust or pet dander allergy symptoms include eliminating carpets and rugs in the bedroom, dust covers for pillow cases, and a HEPA filter near the bed.
What else can people do to survive allergy season? Are there home remedies?
Rinsing the allergens out of your nasal passages and sinuses with a saline rinse that can be purchased over the counter can be helpful. This also helps moisturize your nasal passages if you are using a nasal spray for allergies.
If your symptoms tend to be harsh or worsen please consider scheduling an appointment with your doctor today. Also, here are a few additional resources provided by the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services.
About Cambridge Health Alliance
Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health system committed to providing high quality care in Cambridge, Somerville and Boston’s metro-north communities. CHA has expertise in primary care, specialty care and mental health/substance use services, as well as caring for diverse and complex populations. It includes three hospital campuses, a network of primary care and specialty practices and the Cambridge Public Health Dept. CHA patients have seamless access to advanced care through the system’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. CHA is a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate and is also affiliated with Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Tufts University School of Medicine. For more information, visit www.challiance.org.
After many years of working closely with the communities of Revere, Chelsea and Charlestown on public health issues, Leslie Aldrich was recently announced as the new executive director for the Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) at Mass General Hospital – the umbrella organization that includes Healthy Chelsea.
Aldrich has been working at CCHI for the past 19 years, and most recently as the associate executive director to Joan Quinlan, who has taken on the role of vice president for community health at MGH.
“I think it’s very exciting and I’m happy to move into this role,” she said. “Nineteen years ago when I started the work was a lot smaller scale…As the executive director, I’ll really be continuing to build on the foundation we’ve had for the Center in our communities and making sure it remains robust…Public health has really blossomed in the last five to six years as we’ve realized that prevention has to be key to everything we’re doing. It’s a big means for reducing health care costs as well.”
Aldrich has been a face of the overall organizations in Revere, Charlestown and Chelsea for several years, especially in helping with the needs assessments that the hospital conducts with the public and community – something that become much more important after the passage of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Those assessments drive what organizations like RevereCARES, Healthy Chelsea and The Charlestown Coalition focus on.
In Charlestown, focusing on substance abuse has been critical for a long time, but after a needs assessment in 2012, evidence showed that Chelsea and Revere felt substance abuse issues were the public’s main concern. That happened long before an official “epidemic” had been proclaimed, and it was the ground work that led to many of the things done today.
“When we did the needs assessment in 2012, it was front and center everywhere,” she said. “Charlestown had been working on that for 10 years previously, but that concern spread everywhere. The communities told us Substance Abuse Disorder was front and center the number one issue facing them. We brought that data and those concerns to the hospital and that’s when substance abuse disorder really became a priority for Mass General…The culture, with the help of the community, helped transform how a major hospital dictates care. It’s pretty incredible. That’s what happens when you bring the resident’s voices in to make a difference. It’s a huge motivator.”
Aldrich also played a key role in working on the Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health prize that the City won last year. She said the work there, and other such ventures, really sets Chelsea apart as a place where MGH can collaborate in a big way.
“Chelsea is a huge example of how collaboration works, especially with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation award,” she said. “That’s really what you try to achieve – changing the culture of the community. That was a huge accolade.”
In Chelsea, Aldrich will help usher in the new drug-free communities coalition that Heathy Chelsea has just received.
“They will now be looking at substance use prevention in a more foundational way,” she said.
Aldrich has already begun her role at the CCHI and looks forward to remaining active in the communities.
More than 500 Chelsea High students walked out of class on Thursday, March 15, as part of the national school walk-out movement to promote more efforts towards school safety.
Armed with only a megaphone, students marched into shin-deep snow and cold temperatures to participate in the movement locally, and to draw attention to school safety.
They were supported by the Chelsea Public Schools and the Chelsea Police, who stood in solidarity with the students, who ranged in age from 13 to 18.
“P-O-W-E-R,” yelled Stephanie Rodrigues, one of the key coordinators along with Diego Estrada. “We have the power. We have a voice. We can use our power…We deserve to be heard. We deserve to be safe. We don’t deserve to stand around and wait for someone to come kill us. You could be next. Unfortunately, the 17 students in Florida were killed by a man who should not have had a gun. This is not normal. We should not stand around and wait for someone to take action for us. We can take action.”
Student Eric Lazo entertained the crowd with impromptu chants and songs on the megaphone, for which most everyone in the crowd followed.
“I came out because this can’t happen again,” said Imane Rharbi. “We can’t have students being killed and unsafe. We need gun control right now. That’s why I came out.”
Junior Angel Vargas said he and many other students are concerned that they could be next, that the fear of something at Chelsea High is real.
“It’s important for all of us to come out here,” he said. “It was terrible what happened in Florida. That was the reason I came out. We are scared.”
Students cheered loudly, hats and scarves wrapped tightly around them, and then broke into a solemn moment as Rodrigues read the names of the 17 students killed in Florida on Feb. 14.
The national walk-out day was supposed to occur on March 14, and all over the state and country students staged walk-outs to call for more gun ownership restrictions and more funding for mental health services inside and outside of school. In Chelsea, the effort had to be postponed because of the blizzard on March 13 that cancelled school for two days.
Originally, the plan called for Chelsea students to have their walk-out in the school gym to avoid having to go in the snow. However, Rodrigues said she and Estrada were approached by students who said it should go on outside.
“We were approached by some students who felt we shouldn’t be focused on comfort by going in the gym,” said Rodrigues, who described herself as just another student and a track athlete. “We agreed. We shouldn’t be comfortable when making a stand. We wanted to show we were standing up no matter what the conditions were outside.”
Outside on Thursday, students carried signs that made many different statements.
Some depicted an anti-gun message, while others called for funding to help people who are mentally ill. Some signs blasted the National Rifle Association (NRA) and others called for remembrance of the Florida students.
Most striking, however, were the hand-made signs that read, “Am I Next?”
Rodrigues said it isn’t an overreaction in Chelsea.
She said students and adults are concerned about their safety in school, and it’s something that is a bit new.
“Honestly, I feel we are all scared, even the adults,” she said. “That’s what pulled us all together. We shouldn’t let our safety in school be in question. That brought us together…One day it could be us.”
Stephany Villatoro and Masireh Ceesay were two of about 500 Chelsea High students that participated in a walk-out for school safety on Thursday, March 15. Students said they came together because they were scared that one day they could be school shooting victims.
Nancy Baguada and Mauricio Rubi march through the snow to the walk-out.
Co-Organizer Stephanie Rodrigues fires up the student crowd at the Stadium with a megaphone.
Student Erik Lazo shouted out interesting chants and songs during the walk-out to get the crowd fired up.
Imane Rharbi said there can be no more school shootings. She said now is the time for stricter gun control.
Students rally on the Stadium field in the snow.
Junior Angel Vargas signs the petition from Chelsea High.
Student organizers standing with Chelsea Police Officers. Chelsea Police and Chelsea High security provided a safe perimeter for the students during the walk-out.
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.”
A major decision will be laid out for residents to discuss one last time in two weeks, that being whether the Broadway business district should be one-way or two-way.
The City of Chelsea will be holding its fourth and final community workshop on the Re-imagining Broadway project on Wednesday, March 14 from 6-8 p.m. The workshop will be held at the Williams School (Music Room) at 180 Walnut Street, Chelsea. (The entrance is on Arlington Street.)
At this meeting, the City of Chelsea will present recommendations for improving downtown circulation and enhancing the public space, including redesigned squares, bus hubs, and potential changes in street direction. Public input on the project has helped to shape the concepts that will be presented. The public is encouraged to attend the workshop to provide additional feedback on the proposed concepts.
Re-imagining Broadway is a planning effort, led by the City of Chelsea, to develop strategies to improve access and mobility for all users of downtown. As in many densely-populated urban areas in the region, Chelsea faces persistent traffic and pedestrian circulation challenges, compounded by the fact that the region is served by a 19th Century street network unaccommodating to modern needs.
The plan is focusing not just on a redesign of downtown circulation, but also how that redesign will support businesses, residents, shoppers, workers, students, and all other travelers. The goals of this effort are to: enhance how public space is used and accessed downtown; support existing businesses and encourage new growth; beautify the area and create a consistent, vibrant look; improve overall safety for all users; and establish a circulation pattern that works for people driving, walking, riding bikes, and taking transit.
The current challenge is capturing this energy and harnessing it to benefit residents now and establish Broadway as the center for future generations in our community. Broadway is the place where Chelsea comes together, but its design, look, function, and operation have not kept pace with the rest of Chelsea’s evolution. This is an opportunity to thoughtfully re-create the most visible and locally used part of Chelsea to become a more desirable, navigable, and welcoming destination for residents and visitors alike.
For more information, the public is encouraged to visit the project website: HYPERLINK “http://www.ReimaginingBroadway.net” www.ReimaginingBroadway.net.
Cirque du Soleil is coming to Boston with its delightfully-imaginative and visually-stunning production LUZIA, a waking dream of Mexico. From June 27 – July 29, 2018, audiences are invited to a redesigned white-and-gold Big Top at Suffolk Downs to escape to an imaginary Mexico – a sumptuous world suspended between dreams and reality.
In a series of grand visual surprises and breathtaking acrobatic performances, LUZIA takes audiences on a surrealistic journey through a vibrant world filled with wonders, playfulness and striking artistry. Smoothly passing from an old movie set to the ocean to a smoky dance hall or an arid desert, LUZIA cleverly brings to the stage multiple places, faces and sounds of Mexico taken from both tradition and modernity. Rich in awe-inspiring moments, LUZIA enchants by incorporating rain into acrobatic and artistic scenes – a first for a Cirque du Soleil touring production.
“LUZIA(…) is superb. 4 stars!” – The Chicago Tribune
“Dazzle(s) the eye with luminous spectacle and gasp-worthy, derring-do.” – Bay Area News Group
“Full of wow feats and gorgeous stage pictures” – The Toronto Star
With mesmerizing and refreshing acrobatic performances, LUZIA brings traditional and contemporary circus disciplines to a whole new level. Cyr Wheel artists perform the unprecedented feat of rolling and spinning under the rain, while an aerialist suspended from a Trapeze flies and twirls through pouring showers. Hoop Diving is taken onto gigantic treadmills, expanding exponentially the speed and amount of daring leaps executed. Jaw-dropping highlights include a male contortionist skillfully twisting his body in the world’s most unimaginable positions, a powerful Aerial Straps specialist defying the laws of gravity at the center of a cenote (natural sinkhole), and two football (soccer) freestylers deftly mixing street dance with mind-blowing ball manipulation.
Public tickets for Boston performances of LUZIA are now available at www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia. Tickets start at $36.
For more information, visit www.cirquedusoleil.com/luzia.
To watch a preview video of LUZIA, visit www.cirk.me/LUZIA_Preview.
To learn more about the integration of water in LUZIA, watch http://cirk.me/LUZIAWaterVideo.
#LUZIAself – the LUZIA webseries
Discover the unique stories, talent and passions of 14 selected cast members of LUZIA through a series of 10 lighthearted webisodes: http://cirk.me/LuziaSelf.
Follow #LUZIA and #cirquedusoleil on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube
Registered Democrats in the City of Chelsea Ward 4, held a Caucus on February 3, 2018 at the Chelsea Public Library to elect Delegates to the 2018 Democratic State Convention.
Elected Delegates are:
Olivia Anne Walsh
91 Crest Ave.
103 Franklin Ave.
Thomas J. Miller
91 Crest Ave.
Theresa G. Czerepica
21 Prospect Ave.
This year’s State Convention will be held June 1-2 at the DCU Center in Worcester, where thousands of Democrats from across the Commonwealth will come together to endorse Democratic candidates for statewide office, Including Constitutional officers and gubernatorial candidates
Those interested in getting involved with the Chelsea Ward 4 Democratic Committee should contact Attorney Olivia Anne Walsh, Ward 4 Chair, at 617-306-5501.
This Monday, the City officially unveiled a light illumination feature in the clock tower of City Hall – a feature that can be seen prominently from Rt.
The Chelsea City Hall clock tower has finally been illuminated after many years of advocacy by Councillor Matt Frank. The project was unveiled on Monday and displays holiday-themed colors at the moment.
1 and the Soldiers’ Home and adds some variety to the Chelsea skyline.
When it went on Monday night, the new lighting scheme alternated green and red colors to match the City’s new Christmas decorations in the downtown area.
The lighting coincided with the last meeting of Councillor Matt Frank, who has long asked for the City to look into introducing some creative lighting on the exterior of City Hall.
Afterward, he said he was very happy to see that the City had taken his request seriously and had actually implemented it before he left office.
“I am beyond delighted that the City was able to complete the first phase of the clock tower light project on the eve of my last City Council meeting,” he said. “It’s a project I have been pushing for since the late 2000s and I am hoping they take the next step by installing outdoor lights to also bring light to the outer structure. Currently the lights are going red and green for the holidays and I’ve been told they are considering using the new lights for snow emergency purposes with a blinking blue.
“Combined with the fixing of the lights on the clock tower, this gives the City a powerful new tool when it comes to civic pride,” he continued. “The lights can be used to signal victory for our high school teams, to show holiday spirit and to showcase City Hall as a beacon for miles in every direction. Symbolism is a powerful thing. Hopefully this light will play it’s part in helping to bring more civic engagement to City Hall.”
Meanwhile, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he gives all the credit to Frank and to Fidel Maltez of Public Works.
“It’s just another small part of our efforts to improve the Downtown,” said Ambrosino. “I have to give the credit for the idea to Councilor Frank. I would have never thought of that on my own.”
Councillor Dan Cortell questioned the creators of the noise study on Monday night. Cortell represents Admiral’s Hill, which has a terrible time with jet noise. He and other councillors are debating next steps after seeing the favorable study.
The City Council publicly unveiled the recent Airplane Noise Study done by Boston University at a Committee on Conference meeting Monday night, Nov. 13, and the consensus is that there are two different paths – fight in court or use the favorable study as leverage.
The noise study was performed by the Center for Research on Environmental and Social Stressors in Housing Across the Life Course (CRESSH), which is a division of the BU School of Public Health. Those involved in the study included Jonathan Levy, Claire Schollaert and Madeleine Scammell (a Chelsea resident).
That report showed that flights over Chelsea have nearly doubled between 2011 and 2015, and that certain health effects associated with airplane noise are very high in Chelsea.
On Monday, Councillors and City Manager Tom Ambrosino met with the study creators and the public to talk about next steps.
Ambrosino explained that the City has had an agreement with MassPort to have a $600,000 annual payment to mitigate the airport uses and airport operations in Chelsea. That agreement ran out in 2015, but he said MassPort has “begrudgingly” continued to pay – but may not renew the deal.
He has asked that they pay $700,000 annually and that they contribute a one-time $3 million payment to create a waterfront park.
Many in the audience, including Ambrosino and GreenRoots Director Roseanne Bongiovanni, are of the opinion that the study should be used as leverage to bring MassPort to the table to agree on mitigation.
“It took us two years just to get a meeting with them about the airport, and then another 18 months to say they would consider doing something,” said Bongiovanni.
Ambrosino said he is a great supporter of the mitigation and park concept – as it would serve the most people – and the report could help make that happen.
“I am a great supporter of the waterfront park,” he said. “That is a piece of mitigation that generates benefits to the most residents of Chelsea and not just a small that will get soundproofing. It won’t be Piers Park in East Boston. That’s a $20 million park, but a $3 million park with the City kicking in $1 million to make it a $4 million park is something that could create a very wonderful waterfront park for everyone.”
Meanwhile, Councillor Roy Avellaneda said he was of the opinion that it might be best to look at using the study to fight MassPort in court.
“We’re going to get to a point where we have to make a decision about this on behalf of our residents,” he said. “We can squeeze them for $700,000 and a park like the City Manager wants to do, or we do a real noise study with proper equipment and prepare to say we have proof that our community is impacted and possibly prepare to embark on a lawsuit against MassPort and the FAA…My preference will be to do a proper sound study and fight. I can’t go to residents and say that I got them a park and they are still suffering from the noise.”