Supt. Bourque Says Governor’s Budget Increases Still Aren’t Enough

Supt. Bourque Says Governor’s Budget Increases Still Aren’t Enough

Gov. Charlie Baker brought a short smile to the face of many when he unveiled an increase in education funding in his State Budget proposal two weeks ago, but this week Supt. Mary Bourque said the proposal needs to go further for cities like Chelsea.

“Although a step in the right direction for public education and in particular gateway cities, the Governor’s FY20 budget does not go nearly far enough,” she wrote in a letter on Feb. 6.

Bourque said the Chelsea Public Schools are facing another year where they will likely – as it stands now – have to cut another $2 million from their budget. That falls upon multiple years of cuts that have weighed cumulatively on the schools and taken away core services from students.

One of the problems is that salaries, health insurance and special education costs are rising so quickly. This year, she said, they are looking at increases in those areas of $5.2 million.

Gov. Baker’s budget proposal steers an increase of $3.2 million to Chelsea over last year, but in the face of rising costs, that still leaves the schools in the red.

It’s yet another year of advocacy for the schools to fix the Foundation Formula – an exercise that has seemingly played out without any success for at least five years.

“Once again we are facing another year of painful budget cuts because the foundation formula used to calculate aid to our schools is broken,” she wrote. “The formula from 1993 has not kept up with inflation, changing demographics or increased student needs. I am however, encouraged this year that all leaders at the State level have acknowledged that the formula is broken, including for the first time the Governor.”

Bourque also spelled out the complex nature of the Chelsea Schools, including numerous factors that are contributing to the reduction in funding.

One of the most startling situations is that there are fewer kids, and with education funding based on numbers of kids, that translates to even less money for the schools.

Bourque said this year they have begun to identify a downward trend in enrollment for the first time in years. She said fewer kids are coming in from outside the U.S. and families are leaving Chelsea for areas with lower rents and costs of living.

“In addition to the foundation formula undercounting critical costs, a significant portion of this year’s $2 million dollar gap is due to student demographic shifts taking place in our schools,” she wrote. “We are seeing a downward trend in student enrollment…This year we have noted fewer students entering our schools from outside the United States as well as a number of students and families moving from Chelsea due to the high cost of living in the Boston area.” The Chelsea Public Schools under the City Charter have until April 1 to submit their balanced budget. Bourque said they plan to lobby members of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the meantime to fix the funding gaps that now exist.

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Text 9-1-1 Service Now Available in Massachusetts

Text 9-1-1 Service Now Available in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts State 9-1-1 Department is pleased to announce that Text to 911is now available throughout the Commonwealth. All Massachusetts 9-1-1 call centers now have ability to receive a text message through their 9-1-1 system. The Baker-Polito Administration has supported making these system enhancements since 2015.

Text to 9-1-1 allows those in need of emergency services to use their cellular device to contact 9-1-1 when they are unable to place a voice call.
“This is a significant improvement to our 9-1-1 system that will save lives,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Tom Turco. “By giving those requiring emergency services this option we are greatly expanding the ability of first responders to provide critical assistance to those in need.”
To contact emergency services by text message, simply enter 9-1-1 in the “To” field of your mobile device and then type your message into the message field. It is the same process that is used for sending a regular text message from your mobile device. It is important to make every effort to begin the text message indicating the town you are in and provide the best location information that you can. “Having the ability to contact a 9-1-1 call center by text could help those being held against their will or victims of domestic violence unable to make a voice call,” said Frank Pozniak, Executive Director of the State 9-1-1 Department. “Text to 9-1-1 also provides direct access to 9-1-1 emergency services for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired, which is a service that these communities did not have access to until now.”
It is important to note that the 9-1-1 call center may not always have your exact location when they receive your text. For this reason, when sending a Text to 9-1-1 it is important to make every effort to begin the text message indicating the town you are in and provide the best location information that you can.
The State 9-1-1 Department encourages citizens to Text to 9-1-1 only when a voice call is not possible.
Remember: “Call if you can, text if you can’t.”

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Thank You, Bob Deleo

Thank You, Bob Deleo

It’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years since Winthrop/Revere State Rep. Bob DeLeo was elected the Speaker of the House by his colleagues. (Yes, time flies.)

We wish to make note of the 10th anniversary of Speaker DeLeo’s ascension to that post because it was marked by two significant events that occurred in January, 2009.

First, Bob was chosen by his colleagues after a succession of House Speakers had been forced to resign because of various scandals, the last having been Sal DiMasi, who was indicted on corruption charges by federal prosecutors for which DiMasi eventually was convicted and sentenced to time in federal prison.

The second was that Bob assumed the Speakership amidst the greatest economic downturn to face not only Massachusetts, but the entire country (and the world) since the Great Depression.

Needless to say, January of 2009 was a difficult period for anyone to become Speaker of the House, given the history of the House during the previous decade and the enormity of the challenges that the state was facing.

However, from the perspective of looking back over the past 10 years, it is fair to say that Bob DeLeo has been more responsible both for restoring the people’s faith in our legislature and for guiding our state through an incredibly-difficult fiscal

period than any other person in state government.

Governors have come and gone, as have State Senate presidents, but the one constant has been the steady hand of Bob DeLeo at the helm of the House of Representatives.

Not only has Bob DeLeo been the principal architect of a state budget process that has been both prudent and forward-looking, but he, more than any other person on Beacon Hill, has been able to bring together disparate groups and has worked with both the Senate and Republican administrations to create an atmosphere of collegiality that is unparalleled in our nation today. The achievements in our state over the past decade under the Speakership of Bob DeLeo are a testament to the ability of one person to have a profound effect upon the lives of the people he serves — and Massachusetts unquestionably is a better place thanks to Bob DeLeo’s tenure as Speaker of the House for the past 10 years.

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Sports 01-31-2019

Sports 01-31-2019

CHS Sports Roundup

CHS TRACK TEAMS DROP FIRST CONTESTS

The Chelsea High boys and girls indoor track teams dropped their first meets of the season last week to Greater Lawrence.

The outcome of the Lady Red Devils’ contest came down to the final race, the 4 x 400 relay. Chelsea held a 41-40 lead entering the relay, but Greater Lawrence won the race to win the meet by a score of 45-41.

Highlights from girls meet included:

1st and third in the high hurdles: Stephanie Simon, Sandra Tun

1st and third in the 50 yard dash: Stephanie Simon, Sandra Tun

1st in the 300: Ana Chang

1st in the 600: Yarelis Torres Diaz

1st in the High Jump: Stephanie Simon

1st in the mile: Yarid Deras

On the boys’ side, the Red Devils came up short by a score of 54-31. The highlights for Chelsea were:

1st in Shot Put: Rigo Flores

1st in the 600: Jazmany Reyes

1st, 2nd, 3rd in mile: Jazmany Reyes, Oscar Amaya, Ian Padilla

1st, 2nd in 1000: Justin Turner, Limilson Tavares

SIMON WINS LONG JUMP AT STATE COACHES

Chelsea High track star Stephanie Simon captured the long jump event at this past weekend’s State Coaches Meet, an event that features the top athletes in Division 1, with a leap of 18′-0.75″, a distance that qualified Stephanie for the nationals.

Teammate Ana Chang turned in a strong performance in the 300 dash, finishing in 20th place among a field of 58 competitors. For the boys, Red Devil Justin Turner improved his two-mile school record from 10:18 to 10:13.36.

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City Manager Working on Local Regulations for AirBNB

City Manager Working on Local Regulations for AirBNB

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said this week he is preparing new City regulations that would govern the short-term rental market (known as AirBNB) in Chelsea.

That comes after Gov. Charlie Baker and the State Legislature worked out a sudden compromise at the end of the year to a bill that had been stalled since the summer. That bill was signed into law and went into effect statewide on Jan. 1. While it governs the practice, it also leaves a lot of room for cities to come up with their own regulations and to tax such entities.

Ambrosino said he hoped to have something to the Council in March.

“I’m working on them now,” he said. “I hope to have a proposal up to the Council with new regulations and requirements about the local options taxes that we want to collect. I’ve been working on some drafts and we’ll circulate those internally. We’ll have a proposal to submit in early March.”

Both houses of the state legislature and Gov. Charlie Baker found a sudden compromise at the end of December in their two-year session to push through the stalled short-term rental bill – which Gov. Baker signed into law on Friday, Dec. 28.

The bill has been a long time in the making and has been shepherded through the legislature for years by State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz of the North End, who was happy to see the compromise reached.

Short-term rentals are not a major issue at the moment in Chelsea, but there are more than a few out there. More are expected due to the proximity of the city to the airport and the Encore Boston Harbor casino.

One of the keys of the state law is that it will be obvious who operates them and where, something that is kind of a mystery now.

The new law requires a statewide registry of operators, something the governor had opposed for some time until late in the year.

It also levies a 5.7 percent state tax on all short-term rental units, and allows cities and towns to levy their own local taxes as well. In Boston, it is proposed to put an additional 6 percent on each short-term rental unit.

The trade-off with the registry for the governor seems to be a provision that allows for anyone renting out a unit for 14 days or less to avoid the taxation portion of the law. It was uncertain, but it initially did appear that those units would have to participate in the statewide registry.

Ambrosino said they would undoubtedly push to go for the maximum 6 percent local option taxes.

“We’ll definitely go for the maximum option,” he said. “We’ll look at the Boston ordinance as a model. It was well-crafted. We’ll make sure rentals are adequately inspected and safety is addressed.”

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CHS Students Perform at Gov Baker’s Inauguration

CHS Students Perform at Gov Baker’s Inauguration

The Chelsea High School choir group, led by Co-Directors Peter Pappavasselio and Cole Lundquist,
is pictured with CHS Principal Lex Mathews and State Rep. Brad Jones before their performance
at the inauguration ceremony for Gov. Charlie Baker.

When Gov. Charlie Baker heard the Chelsea High advanced choir group Cantare perform at the Chelsea Soldiers Home Veterans Day program, he was very impressed.

Soon after Baker’s office contacted Performing Arts Lead teacher and Cantare Co-Director Peter Pappavasselio and invited the group to perform at his inauguration at the State House.

Pappavasselio accepted the invitation and on Jan. 3, 24 CHS students had the high honor of performing at the inauguration.

The students, attired in their black and white formal costume attire, performed the song, “On Winter Mountain,” in front of Gov. Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, and all of the constitutional officers, state senators, state representatives, judges, and other distinguished guests in attendance.

“The song denotes winter imagery, but it ends with this feeling of peace and contentment,” said Pappavasselio, who co-directs the group with Cole Lundquist.

A former outstanding high school and college vocalist with a rich history in music production, Pappavasselio fully understands the personal and historical significance of being able to perform at the gubernatorial inauguration which is a quadrennial happening.

“It’s a once-in-a-career, if you’re lucky, performance,” said Pappavasselio.

The co-director said the group has received several accolades for its superb performance that was captured live by television cameras from the Boston stations.

Supt. of Schools Dr. Mary Bourque and Principal Lex Mathews were able to attend the inauguration and enjoy the students’ performance in person. Both administrators were understandably quite proud of the students.

“A lot of people saw it on television and it’s being shown on YouTube,” said Pappavasselio.

Next up for Cantare is the district concert on March 20 at the Williams School.

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Equitable Access:Chelsea School Leaders Demand Educational Equity for All Students at Malden Forum

Equitable Access:Chelsea School Leaders Demand Educational Equity for All Students at Malden Forum

Chelsea School Superintendent
Mary Bourque and Chelsea City Manager Thomas Ambrosino were two panelists
Tuesday night at Malden High School discussing school budget funding.

Chelsea School Superintendent Mary Bourque and Chelsea City Manager Thomas Ambrosino were two panelists Tuesday night at Malden High School during a forum calling on legislators to overhaul the state’s current educational funding model to ensure equity for all students, especially those in low-income areas.

During the state’s last legislative session a bill by State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain) would have recalculated the cost to educate each student in public school districts known as the ‘foundation budget’ and poured millions of dollars into school over the next several years.

However that bill failed and educators like Bourque are calling this mechanism the state uses to provide students with equitable access to educational opportunities ‘obsolete’ and must be revised to meet the expectations of today’s economy.

Because the state has not updated its education funding formula since 1993 to reflect districts’ real health insurance and special education costs, the amount of aid being provided to cover those costs is too small.

To compensate, many districts like Chelsea end up using money that would otherwise have supported core education programs—including Regular Ed. Teachers, Materials & Technology, and Professional Development. This also results in dramatic cuts in other areas of education.

“The time is now because we have no more time left,” said Bourque at Tuesday night’s meeting. “There will be more cuts because we don’t know where the money will come from. We cut all of our after school programs…elementary (afterschool) programs two years ago and middle school after school programs last year. It’s time to make changes to the formula and we need to make the formula work for us. It is time to save the futures of our students and open those doors to the future. We can not afford to have our students go through another year of cuts in their school system.”

The problem for low income school districts like Chelsea is there is a growing equity gap between schools in Chelsea and schools in more affluent areas of the state. When faced with such shortfalls, high-wealth districts can often draw on additional, local revenue. Lower-wealth districts like Chelsea, however, are generally unable to do so and the consequence is that they spend less on resources that are critically important to the quality of education students receive.

“I do think there a lot of school systems in a financial crisis my expectation is that if this is not addressed in this legislative session we are going to have a lot of tough decisions to make like Brockton did where they had to lay off a significant amount of teachers,” said Ambrosino. “We are living in good economic times. State revenues have been running above estimates for quite some time so it’s time for the legislature to use this good fortune and make education a priority once again and invest in education. This is not easy and requires a lot of money so I don’t envy any legislators that have to work on this but budgets are all about priorities. A budget, simply put, is a policy statement on your (the legislation’s) priorities and the legislature once again has to make education a priority. If it doesn’t there will be too many ‘have nots’ in the Commonwealth once again.”

Estimates by lawmakers to fix the budget formula could be as high as $1 billion with Gov. Charlie Baker vowing to put forth his own proposal to fix the broken system after the House and Senate couldn’t agree on a solution last year.

However, Bourque said something has to be done and done soon because Chelsea is running a $7.4 million school budget gap between what the state covers for education and what the Chelsea School District is actually spending to educate students.

“Morally obligated to meet our students needs and provide for them so they can be successful and have futures,” said Bourque. “Sometimes, as a superintendent, I feel like we’ve been living on a ‘fixed budget’ since 1993 and that fixed income is not working. The result is that we are stretched too thin.”

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State Rep Dan Ryan Inaugurated Wednesday for New Term

State Rep Dan Ryan Inaugurated Wednesday for New Term

Chelsea’s State Rep. Dan Ryan has been inaugurated for another term in the legislature this week, and he said he is ready to tackle issues from transportation to opiate recovery research in the new term.

On Wednesday, with the new class of the state legislature, Rep. Ryan took the oath of office along with Gov. Charlie Baker and the rest of the Commonwealth. It will be his third full term in office, and he said it will be an interesting term with new faces and a Republican governor in his second round.

“I think the voters of Chelsea and Charlestown first and foremost for giving me two more years,” he said. “It will be my third full term and Gov. Baker’s second term. We’ll have some big changes in the House and it will be very interesting to see what those changes look like. It will be interesting to see what happens with Gov. Baker’s second term. He was easy to work with in the first term with very moderate Republican stances. Second terms are different so we’ll see what that dynamic looks like.”

Ryan also praised House Speaker Bob DeLeo for his leadership in 2018, and his new term in 2019 – having also been sworn in as the House Speaker again on Wednesday.

“I’ll be supporting the Speaker in this next term,” he said. “He’s had a strong hand in this legislative session with everything going on in the Senate, the House needed to be the grown up in the room and the Speaker was very pragmatic in moving things forward.”

Ryan is now the vice chair of the Substance Abuse/Mental Health Committee, and also serves on the Transportation, Post Audit and Veterans Affairs Committees. He said he has also been appointed to Task Forces charged with looking at the Commuter Rail and looking into issues related to the Opiate Bill passed last year.

“There’s going to be a lot of movement in the chairmanships, but I think I’m going to be on the same committees,” he said. “I’ll be spending a lot of time doing transportation work. That’s not always the issue that gets a lot of attention, but it’s very important.”

Ryan said the last session was very progressive, including legislation on criminal justice reform, the opiate bill, pay equity, the transgender accommodation bill and banning bump stock firing devices for firearms.

“We got a lot of progressive legislation though in the last two years,” he said. “Even though some didn’t think we were progressive enough, I think it was one of the most forward looking sessions in a long time.”

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Chelsea Man Arrested after Leaving Two in Serious Condition

Chelsea Man Arrested after Leaving Two in Serious Condition

Police have arrested a 24-year-old Chelsea man in connection to a shooting and stabbing at 16 Pleasant St. early Saturday morning.

Hector Emilio Hernandez, was arrested on charges of attempted murder and unlawful possession of a firearm following the alleged attack, according to Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

Revere police and emergency medical personnel responded to 16 Pleasant St. at about 1:45 a.m. Saturday to find a 27-year-old man from Chelsea apparently shot and a 23-year old man from Chelsea apparently stabbed. Both were hospitalized. State Police detectives were notified and the Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit responded.

Hernandez is expected to be arraigned Monday in Chelsea District Court.

“The relationship between the parties involved remains under investigation, as do the circumstances surrounding the violent encounter,” Wark said in a statement.

Wark added that based on an investigation that continued through Saturday morning and into Saturday afternoon, troopers and officers developed information that the suspect may be in the area of Calumet Street in Revere.
Troopers and officers set up surveillance and observed a man matching the suspect’s description enter a residence on that street.

When police went to the house they observed the suspect exit a back door and try to climb a fence. He was caught and apprehended and transported to the State Police Barracks in Revere where he was booked on charges of attempted murder and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Revere Police Criminal Investigation Division at 781-286-8340 or the Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit at 617-727-8817.

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Income Tax Rate to Drop to 5.05 Percent Jan 1

Income Tax Rate to Drop to 5.05 Percent Jan 1

The Massachusetts Department of Revenue confirmed last week that the required revenue metrics have been met to ensure the state’s Part B income tax rate will drop on Jan. 1, 2019 from the current 5.10 percent to 5.05 percent.

“A strong economy and careful management of the Commonwealth’s finances have created the conditions for Massachusetts taxpayers to get a much-deserved break,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “We are pleased that next year we will see taxpayers be able to keep more of their hard-earned money.”

A state law enacted in 2002 provides the statutory mechanism to lower the Part B individual income tax rate, based on certain revenue milestones. The legislation replaced a tax-rate reduction schedule that had passed by ballot initiative in November 2000.

“I was pleased to receive confirmation from the Department of Revenue that the revenue trigger had been met. This reflects steady revenue growth and a nice break for taxpayers,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan.

The law provides that for each tax year in which certain inflation-adjusted baseline revenue growth requirements are met, the income tax rate will be reduced by increments of 0.05 percentage points until the rate reaches 5 percent.

Part B income includes wages, salary, and many other forms of income, including self-employment income; business, professional and farm income; S corporation distributions; and rental income from personal property. The rate associated with Part B income is also applied to several other income categories, including interest and dividends and most long-term capital gains.

There are five revenue tests that determine whether a rate reduction is required, beginning with growth in revenue over the previous fiscal year, and including a series of four additional growth measures. If any one of the incremental tests is not met, the rate reduction does not proceed. With DOR’s certification of the most recent revenue measure, all five tests in 2018 have now been met.

The rate reduction was last triggered on Jan. 1, 2016, when it dropped from 5.15% to 5.10%. Previous reductions included:

  • Jan. 1, 2012 (rate reduced from 5.3% to 5.25%)
  • Jan. 1, 2014 (rate reduced from 5.25% to 5.2%)
  • Jan. 1, 2015 (rate reduced from 5.2% to 5.15%)

The state budget for Fiscal 2019 accounted for the income tax rate change, which is projected to reduce tax revenue by approximately $84 million in Fiscal Year 2019 and approximately $175 million in Fiscal Year 2020.

If revenues in 2019 are sufficient to trigger a further rate reduction, the Part B income tax rate will drop to 5% for the 2020 tax year.

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