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
“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
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.
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.”
Encore Boston Harbor is committing $10 million over the next four years to support a wide range of social programs and civic institutions that will help those in need and improve the lives of residents in local communities, the company announced on Tuesday – also known as Giving Tuesday.
To assist in managing funds and identifying the most meaningful philanthropic efforts, the company is partnering with the Connors Family Office, led by Boston civic leader Jack Connors Jr.
“Giving back to the communities where our employees and guests live and work has always been a part of who we are as a company,” said Matt Maddox, CEO of Wynn Resorts. “It’s not in our corporate DNA to just write a check for a donation or buy a table at a charity event. We want to make an impactful difference in the lives of people and effect real and positive changes in our communities. We believe committing $10 million and teaming with the Connors Family Office will go a long way towards realizing our goal.”
Together, the Connors Family Office and Encore Boston Harbor will develop an Advisory Committee to advise on and assist in the disbursement of funds from Encore Boston Harbor. The committee will provide recommendations to Encore Boston Harbor for the distribution of funds, targeting programs that support at-risk-youth education, cultural enrichment and vibrant communities.
“It is impressive to see a new business come into town and make such a concerted effort to positively impact the surrounding community,” said Jack Connors Jr. “Encore Boston Harbor is poised to make a real difference for some very worthy organizations.”
Encore Boston Harbor has been active in local philanthropy prior to Tuesday’s announced commitment of $10 million. Long-standing recipients of Encore’s corporate giving include the Boston Pops, Wang Theater, New England Center for Arts and Technology, Disabled American Veterans, and Latino 30 Under 30, among others. Recently, Encore Boston Harbor donated $100,000 in support of The Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund.
Encore Boston Harbor announced last week that it was the lead sponsor and supporter of a unique partnership between the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Boston Public Library that is bringing a major exhibit by renowned French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec to the MFA.
The $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor resort is scheduled to open in June 2019.
Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito today announced $3 million in technology grants to 44 cities and towns across the Commonwealth through the Community Compact Information Technology (IT) Grant Program. This week’s announcement will benefit more than 49 municipal entities and brings the total number of municipal IT grants issued over the past four years to 188, assisting 250 communities with $9 million in grant funding to modernize their technology systems and deliver service to their residents more efficiently.
Chelsea received $50,000 for implementation of a comprehensive communication and project management package that will improve service, documentation and knowledge sharing.
Lt. Governor Polito made the announcement.
“Community Compact IT grants are a valuable way for the Community Compact program to provide access to resources for major technological projects that might otherwise be unaffordable,” said Lt. Governor Polito, Chair of the Community Compact Cabinet. “A great example is Cohasset’s plan to upgrade its Student Information System for greater productivity and the sophisticated tools that a school district requires to help meet its administrative obligations and its students’ educational needs.”
Cities and towns have used the IT grant funding to upgrade their websites, implement new systems that allow residents to apply for permits and licenses online, improve the security and capacity of municipal IT systems, digitize records and develop other solutions to costly technological challenges.
In addition to the IT grants, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded $7.3 million in technical assistance grants and $4 million in efficiency and regionalization grants since starting the Community Compact Program in 2015.
The City Council voted unanimously on Monday night for a bond authorization to build a new Clark Avenue Middle School at a cost of $57,332,407 – with some 65 percent of those costs coming from the state School Building Authority (SBA).
The vote has been preceded with about two year’s worth of meetings and design charrettes and good old number crunching.
In the end, all 10 councillors voted to authorize the bonding and send it to the next step. Councillor Joe Perlatonda was absent from the vote, but has supported the school project.
Councillors Chris Cataldo and Brian Hatleberg have been working closely with the School Committee and the School Department to work out the design and the financing during the interim.
Both were very big supporters of the project.
“This is the big one,” said Hatleberg. “We have capacity to borrow all of the local share, but there are some options we’ll likely take advantage of to make it cheaper…While I’m discouraged about the cost we have to bear the burden of locally, it is what it is.”
Cataldo thanked all of the officials and councillors who have participated in the process to get the school to this point.
The last school project in Chelsea was close to 20 years ago.
“This project is just as important as any project we’ve talked about in the last 10 years,” said Councillor Calvin Brown. “If we want to provide the highest quality education for our kids, we’ll make sure this gets done soon.”
Councillor Dan Cortell also voiced his support for the school and said that despite the cost, he’s all for it.
The actual cost of the school’s local share is $19.7 million, with the state picking up $37.6 million of that share.
So far, design is at about 50 percent right now.
The construction would come in two phases, with the older part of the school coming down first while students are on summer vacation. That would go into an 18 month construction period on the three story classroom wing that runs along Crescent Avenue. The remaining part of the school would be demolished during summer vacation, and that would lead into having a one-year construction on the gym, cafeteria and administrative offices.
Students would be housed by grade on each of the three floors, and wouldn’t have to travel unless going to the library, gym or cafeteria.
It is designed for 670 students, which is about 120 more than the school currently houses. Some of the upgrades include:
- 28 general classrooms
- 4 science labs
- 2 ELL Classrooms (not currently at the Clark)
- 20 Small Group/Reading Rooms
- 1 Art Room, 1 Music Room and 1 Band room
- 2 Technology rooms
- Gym (same size)
- Performance Space (1.5 times larger)
- Library (2.5 times larger)
- Cafeteria (4 times larger)
- There is, however, no parking
“It’s going to be a longer construction period, but we expect kids to be in the new building in the fall of 2018,” said Margaret Wood of Pinck & Company, the City’s project manager.
The other discussion point – which doesn’t have to be decided until next year – is how to finance the project.
The City has the capacity to bond the entirety of the local share and still only have to pay $1 million in debt service per year. That was a plan affectionately called the “$1 million Plan” by Treasurer Bob Boulrice.
Assistant City Manager Ned Keefe said Chelsea is unique in that it has very low debt and can handle more.
“We have $24 million outstanding in General Obligation bonds right now,” said Keefe. “This will add to that debt, but the good news is our debt load is extremely low for a city of Chelsea’s size.”
That said, the problem with bonding the full share is that it will end up costing just over $30.9 million over the full term, including interest.
Boulrice said they took the challenge to find a way to infuse Free Cash year by year in order to lower the costs. By using $2 million in Free Cash or Stabilization Funds per year through construction, the City would save $5 million in borrowing and the full cost with interest would go down to $19.6 million.
“I can also say there are even better plans than this,” he said. ‘Based on what happens in the future, there are even more savings we could have…If things hold as they have held and revenues hold solid, the contributions you see here can go forward and the levels we want to see in the Stabilization Fund can be held…It looks good, but a new administration may come in and want to do a lot of new things.”
School officials said the next step now will be working on detailed construction documents and preparing to remove asbestos next year from the older portion of the school.
The Chelsea Police Department sent a contingent of 15 officers in full-dress uniform on Wednesday to the funeral of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Police Officer Sean Collier in Cambridge.
Chief Brian Kyes said the department joined numerous other departments in the area by sending a large contingent to the ceremony, which was closed to the public.
Thousands of public safety personnel from all over the nation and from Canada were present at the funeral.
Also in attendance was U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
Red Devils fall in tourney opener
The Chelsea High boys basketball team’s season came to a conclusion Monday evening with a 68-43 loss to Boston Latin Academy on the latter’s home court in Dorchester in the opening round of the Division 2 North Sectional of the MIAA state tournament.
The Red Devils trailed from the outset, though matters were close at 15-9 in the opening frame. However, Latin opened up an 18 point advantage, 35-17, at the half. Although Chelsea would draw within nine points in the third period, they never were able to mount a serious challenge to the Latin lead.
“Latin had some terrific outside shooters for which we could not come up with an answer,” said CHS head coach Jay Seigal. “We tried to press them full court, but even when they broke the press, they looked for the three pointer instead of taking the ball to the basket. They were 7-2 on their home floor, but 2-7 away from it, so they obviously felt very comfortable there with that strategy.”
Chelsea, which qualified for the state tourney in the final week of the season with a dramatic victory over Shawsheen to overtake Shawsheen in the Commonwealth Athletic Conference standings, entered the D-2 North as the 18th seed with an 8-12 record. Latin was the 15th seed with a 9-9 mark.
Red Devil Carlos Vazquez concluded a superb senior year and CHS career with an 18 point effort against Latin to pace Chelsea in the scoring department. Jorge Ramos hit for nine points, followed by Oscar Sabillon with five, Hector Sarmiento and Eddie Irizarry with four each, Albert Alicea with two, and Faisal Nasimi with a free throw.
Although the Devils’ exit from the tourney was a quick one, Seigal said he was very pleased with his team’s performance this season. “This team worked hard and overachieved,” said Seigal. “We overcame an 0-6 start and pulled off some huge wins to finish in second place in the Large Division of the CAC to get into the tourney. We won three of our four games against the top two teams in our division, Whittier and Shawsheen. I’m very proud of what this team accomplished.”
Bruins Beat by Bob Morello
Bruins standing tall
The Bruins are feeling pretty good about themselves, coming off a five-game road trip in which they posted four victories (Winnipeg, Tampa Bay, Florida and Islanders). When the team hits the Garden ice tonight (Thursday), to face division-rival Ottawa, the compacted schedule becomes even more hectic, as Boston will play 32 games in just 58 days. With one-third of the current season behind the B’s at press time, they find themselves a mere point behind the Montreal Canadiens for first place in the Northeast Division, and by a single point for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, and Boston has played three fewer games than the Canadiens.
Buoyed by their four-game win streak, plus the energizing stay in the Florida sunshine, the Bruins are exuding strong signs of some indicators for success – confidence, consistency and focus! Goaltender Tuukka Rask has filled the net with yeoman efforts, putting up ten victories, an impressive goals-against-average 1.89, and a very solid .930 save percentage. The question of being able to fill the void left by Tim Thomas’ “no-show,” is being answered by Rask’s strong performances. Despite a rather weak showing by the Boston defense during Tuesday’s 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders, Rask again managed to come up with the big saves, stopping 36 of the 37 shots he faced.
Wins have a way of creating confidence in both a team and a player, and that is beginning to show in the play of Tyler Seguin, whose assist on McQuaid’s first-period goal was his 100th career point. Another would be Chris Bourque who is showing that he can help this team, with his dedicated work ethic. Brad Marchand continues to impress, notching his team leading 10th goal versus the Islander, followed by David Krejci who earned his fifth goal in the Islanders win.
Boston’s brief three-game homestand following tonight’s (Thursday) game will also include encounters with Tampa Bay Lightning in a Saturday matinee (1pm), and the highly-charged Monday night (7:30pm) contest with long time division rival Montreal. The Canadiens Tuesday night, swapped right wingers, sending Erik Cole to the Dallas Stars, for former Canadien and Bruins sniper Michael Ryder, and the Stars’ 3rd round draft pick in 2013. Ryder tallied a career high 35 goals with Dallas last season, and was on the scoresheet this season with 6 goals/8 assists in 19 games.
According to TSN in Canada and ESPN reports on Tuesday, the NHL is rumored to be working on designing a realignment plan for next season, which would consist of two conferences that will have two divisions in each. The NHL has been working with the Players’ Association on this matter for three weeks. The divisional playoff format would have the top three teams in each division, plus four spots filled with wild-card teams, the top two in each conference. Eastern Conference would continue to play the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. In a proposed Eastern Conference, the Bruins would be in the Central Division with: Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, and Toronto. The major plus for Boston fans is the proposed lineup would include four of the ‘original six’ teams. The NHL Board of Governors must approve the ‘tentative’ plan.
MassEquality (a grassroots advocacy organization working to ensure that everyone across Massachusetts can live without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression) has chosen to honor the Boston Bruins for their proactive efforts to ensure equality, respect and safety for all athletes. Several Bruins have made videos for the You Can Play Project, which is dedicated to improving the climate for the LGBTQ community in professional sports. The award marks the first time a professional hockey team has been honored by an LGBTQ organization and only the second time any professional sports team has been honored by the community. The Bruins will be honored tonight (Thursday) at Boston’s Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.
Boys & girls clubs of Boston promotes literacy with Boomwriter Technology Heroes Program
BoomWriter Media, Inc., an education technology company focused on collaborative storytelling and book publishing, today announced that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston is participating in the BoomWriter Technology Heroes Program, an initiative that helps educators become “Technology Champions.” The program brings together enthusiastic educators, local celebrities and corporate sponsors to promote literacy and inspire kids to become master storytellers through collaborative writing projects. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston will offer the Technology Heroes Program to members of their Clubs in Boston and Chelsea.
Starting in February, members from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston will have the opportunity to collaborate and write stories using the BoomWriter platform. Members can select story starts written by authors, athletes or celebrities, including the latest one authored by Pebbles from Pebbles’ Reading Rockstars and Hot 96.9 Boston FM Radio. Story starts are first chapters that spark the imaginations of kids and inspire them to write the subsequent parts of the story with their peers. Using the generous support of corporate partners, BoomWriter will convert these stories into published books. Each participating club member will receive a free copy and the thrill of their name in print with their peers.
“Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston partners with hundreds of organizations throughout the community to bring high-quality programming to the children we serve,” said Dan Buckland, Senior Education Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston. “We are excited about the opportunity to pilot this innovative program designed to help our members improve their creative writing skills.”
BoomWriter inspires children to bring their stories to life online and in print. The creative process starts with the first part of a story written by a professional writer. Students then are encouraged to write what they think should happen next in the story. After submitting their work online, students read the chapters of their peers and then vote for the most appealing chapter. Once the winning chapter is selected, it is added to the story and the process continues until a book is completed.
“We are proud to partner with Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston,” said Chris Twyman, founder and CEO for BoomWriter Media. “Our company is committed to promoting literacy and providing thousands of young people the tools they need to thrive in a tech-savvy society.”
The BoomWriter Technology Heroes Program is available nationwide and invites school districts, youth organizations and corporations to get involved. Get more information at www.boomwriter.com/Home/TechnologyHeroes.
About the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston
Since its founding in 1893, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB) has been helping young people, especially those who need us most, build strong character and realize their full potential as responsible citizens and leaders. We do this by providing: a safe haven filled with hope and opportunity, ongoing relationships with caring adults, and life-enhancing programs in six core program areas. BGCB serves more than 15,000 young people ages 6-18 in 10 Clubs, and through Camp Harbor View and YouthConnect. BGCB is an affiliate of Boys & Girls Clubs of America and The United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. For more information, visit us on the web at HYPERLINK “http://www.bgcb.org/”http://www.bgcb.org.
About BoomWriter Media
BoomWriter Media of Cambridge, Massachusetts is a digital education company that engages children and educators in collaborative storytelling. Our innovative Web-based publishing platform brings passionate educators, technology experts, corporate sponsors, enthusiastic parents, and students together to promote and develop creativity, writing, reading, and other essential 21st Century skills. BoomWriter partners with authors, celebrities, and educators to provide first chapters, also known as story starts, that spark kids’ imaginations and inspires story collaboration with classmates and children worldwide in competition for publication. Teachers and students from more than 2,000 schools in 20 countries have already joined the BoomWriter community. For more information, go to HYPERLINK “http://www.BoomWriter.com/”http://www.BoomWriter.com.