Sunday Notes April 5th 2015

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Beannachtaí Ná Cásca oraibh = May the blessings of Easter be on you

Answering a few questions….The MSBA was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. MOSTLY THEY POINTED ME TO THEIR WEBSITE AND PROGRAM GUIDELINES.

Hi Gerry,
Thanks for contacting us. To begin with, please have a look at the following link, which provides an overview of our eight module pipeline: http://www.massschoolbuildings.org/building.

In general, our web site is a great source for information about the MSBA and you can find answers to many questions about our process there.

Currently, Lowell High School is in the Eligibility Period, which is the first module in our pipeline. The Eligibility Period lasts for 270 days, so our focus for most of this year will be on collaborating with the district to meet the Eligibility Period requirements.

Eligibility Period requirements include:
1) Initial Compliance Certification (which confirms district understanding of MSBA regulations and procedures);
2) district formation of School Building Committee;
3) district completion of Educational Profile Questionnaire (which details district facilities, teaching methodology, grade structure and educational program);
4) summary of existing maintenance practices in the district;
5) certification of an agreed-upon design enrollment.

There is also a local approval vote for Feasibility Study funding as one of the Eligibility Period requirements. You can refer to the district for what the local vote requirements are.

Further information about the Eligibility Period can be found here: http://www.massschoolbuildings.org/building/prerequisites
I hope this is helpful. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions.

Here’s 3 answers and the LINK to the Regulation website.

#1 Will THE MSBA DECIDE THE LOCATION WHERE A NEW SCHOOL GETS BUILT? (GN: Short answer is NO)

Although cities, towns, regional school districts, and independent agricultural and technical schools are encouraged to seek the advice and opinion of the Authority on issues that may arise regarding the project, advice provided by the Authority shall not transfer the responsibility for final decisions from cities, towns, regional school districts, and independent agricultural and technical schools to the Authority, nor render the Authority responsible for any such advice.

The site selected shall be chosen on the basis that it will meet the educational need, maximize the use of any available community resources, and minimize any possible adverse educational, environmental, social, or economic impact upon the community Such adverse impact shall include, but not necessarily be limited to: the need to provide new sewers, roads,transportation facilities, water supply, water connections, and other public infrastructure to the site; existence of soil conditions or hazardous materials that may cause site development costs to be greatly increased; or curtailment of the approved educational program.

#2 Is there a height regulation for new buildings? Can it be over 3 stories high if it needs to fit a specific land area?

The MSBA Educational Program Space Standards and Guidelines shall be followed in planning school facilities. Said Guidelines may also provide school designers and school building committees with prototype building programs for elementary, middle, and high
schools, and other grade configurations as determined by the Authority. The Eligible Applicant may make reasonable departures from the MSBA Educational Program Space Standards and Guidelines with a prior written determination of the Authority, at their sole discretion, that such departures are consistent with the intent of 963 CMR 2.00 to provide adequate, safe cost effective and programmatically sound school facilities.

The space standards set forth in Table 4 and in the MSBA Educational Program Space Standards and Guidelines may not necessarily be applicable to reconstruction, renovation or repair projects. These standards and guidelines were developed by the Authority for determining maximum size and costs related to new construction and should not be used for assessing safety standards or educational adequacy of existing facilities that were constructed in accordance with the standards and guidelines that prevailed at the time of construction. The Authority shall consider Proposed Projects on a case-by-case basis and in some cases different square footages may be determined at the discretion of the Authority.

#3 Are there any restrictions on size of specific areas such as gyms, pools or auditoriums?
(b) The following spaces shall be categorically ineligible for Authority funding: swimming pools, skating rinks, field houses (only to the same extent as gymnasia), district administrative office space, indoor tennis courts, and other spaces which may be determined ineligible by the Authority.

Not that anyone asked…

No one has asked this question that I know of but I will throw this out their strictly from a common sense / taxpayers point of view.

Instead of going for the granddaddy of them all, building a new High School and fighting about moving the school or getting into a prolong eminent domain fight by trying to expanding the existing school and considering the fact Lowell needs a new Police station in addition to the High School project, why doesn’t common sense prevail and the City just go for Option 1B?

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1B School – Full Renovation $152 million..Lowell Taxpayers would be on the hook for about $22 million instead of $55 million, the High School would be renovated and upgraded and the council / administration could still find the funds for a new Police /Public Safety building ..a Win/Win unless your agenda is more self-centered and money driven…

Speaking of which…

The push is on by Ted Panos and JMAC to beat the drum about moving the High School out of downtown. By the time my daughter graduates it will be from the present LHS so I have no issue with a discussion about moving it. I would like to see more air time given to people who are against moving it to the South Common or Cawley and listen to their reasons. I’m still questioning why the Fort Hill Park area, which has a ver large undeveloped land area wasn’t or isn’t being looked at. It’s not in a main traffic area like Cawley or the common and there would be no land acquisition cost like there would be in taken the Arcand Dr. site.

I’m more upset about the possibility that Councilors would vote against funding renovations or a new school then I am about moving it. If they can’t get it out of the downtown maybe those that want it out will pressure their Councilor’s to just not support bonding it. Politics over Public Good…don’t tell me that would surprise you!!!

Busing NOT Mandated!

By the way, to those that say if the High School moves, Lowell will have increased busing cost. I don’t believe Lowell would be under any law or obligation to provide busing for the High School. If they don’t bus them now, who say’s they have to bus them if it is somewhere else?

The Flip – Flopper

Sun Editor Jim Campinini once called me a Flip-Flopper when he was on City Life (a clear case of the pot calling the kettle) but who has flip-flopped more than Councilor Belanger?

When he ran for Council (and lost) the first time he had great plans for the South CommonI am looking forward to continuing my efforts to turn the South Common into a 4 Season Family Friendly Venue

Then last year after being elected he changed his mind – Belanger vows to push for new Lowell High at South Common

When we had him on Saturday Morning Live to discuss that stand, he admitted he hadn’t talked to any neighbors in that area, hadn’t looked at the traffic report generated for the Hamilton Canal Project and had no idea that the existing school would need to be torn down.

The idea to put a High School at South Common in my view is stupid, so STUPID! Even George Deluca from Lowell2020 who dislikes me almost as much as City Councilor Ed Kennedy, dislikes me, (because I remind EVERYONE about his ETHICS FINE) agreed with me about the insanity of those that are thinking about pushing the South Common Location…this was back in April of 2014 when George wrote:

Corey Belanger’s South Common or bust strategy by the Sun’s Lyle Moran. Corey’s committed to the fight of moving Lowell High School to the Olmstead masterpiece. Ok, this won’t take long: So the idea is to choke city traffic at the gateway to the city just off the Lowell Connector, destroy another beloved Lowell park, and tear down a middle school when there’s a k-8 space crisis. Nuff said on that issue.

PLAYING THE BLAME GAME AKA PROTECTING YOUR POLITICAL BUDDIES!

Heard Manager Kevin Murphy on 980 WCAP Wednesday Morning blaming the Lynch Administration for not raising taxes the past two year…so I ask… when a City Councilor makes this motion

Agenda for City Council on April 10, 2012, 06:30 PM
23. C. Elliott – Req. City Council vote to instruct City Mgr. to develop the FY13 Budget without property tax increase.

And it passes by a MAJORITY vote even when the Manager states the city cannot afford to continue to do this,Who is to blame?

The fact is the Lynch Administration was able to generate HUGE cost savings in Energy, Health Insurance and Trash Pick up and was able to put MILLIONS into reserves after the last State Representative turned City Manager blew through it and the Council felt that they could not ask the public to pay more taxes in a bad fiscal economy when many (myself included) lost hours and wages while the city was able to put money into savings.

The truth is, it wasn’t anyone’s fault! It was the prudent thing to do considering the situation.

What has this Administration been able to save in cost? They have reduced some financial cost (Thank God for Bob Healy) but on the whole, what savings has this Administration been able to show the taxpayers, while adding a 3rd asst. City Manager and a part time City Manager in Bob Healy???

Capital Idea.. Here’s the Manager’s first Capital Proposal from the City Council Agenda, there is a packet with all the information but here’s a screen shot of the basic list.

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School DAZE
Thursday Headline in the SUN…Lowell school supt. search process hit which contained this line..

A motion to continue with the process and approve the 17-member selection committee also reached a 3-3 standstill until dissenting members Elliott, Leary and Gendron changed their votes to “yes” so that the search could move forward.

At this rate the actions by this current committee would almost guarantee that the 3 challengers would get elected…the interesting thing will be which 2 members go and will anyone else run because this committee is creating an opportunity for change…

A Supt search and a divided committee on the process of replacing her,after the same committee drove her out..No Teacher’s contract and another screwed up process to negotiate… potential new High School but can’t get the current Council or City leaders to back 1 plan and instead of focusing on these important issues we have motions on daycare and reducing stress for state mandated testing!!!

Traitors in Lowell…

Friday on WCAP, TLC were talking about famous traitors. (Morning show is so much better with Leslie’s addition and Chris being a regular contributor, that Teddy guy is okay also) It made me recall the group of John Cox supporters who threw a hissy fit when he was removed as Manager and called out these 6 Councilors for being traitors and “Rats”.

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