Sunday Notes April 19th 2015

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The top story in Lowell this week is that the School Committee has been presented with a final 5 list of candidates.

Current Deputy Supt. Jay Lang

Dr Kriner Cash – former Memphis School Supt. resigned in 2013

Ferdinand (Freddy) Fuentes Executive Director, Educational Operations for Boston Public Schools He was also a finalist in the last Lowell Supt search

Dr Salah Khelfaoui has been the superintendent of Winchendon Public Schools since 2012.

Dr Anthony Pope Dr. Anthony Pope, an educational consultant and former superintendent of Marlborough Public Schools

None should be dismissed because they are either a local candidate (as some are trying to demean) or because they have had some issues in past jobs (Pope and Cash).

They should be FAIRLY judged by the way they answer questions in the public interviews and the present School Committee needs to show that THEY ARE BEING FAIR AND EVEN WITH ALL CANDIDATES DURING THE PUBLIC INTERVIEWS OR BE CALLED OUT FOR NOT DOING SO!

Also this week UTL President Paul Georges had a letter to the editor disputing the accuracy of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) data indicating that during 2012-2013 Lowell teacher salaries averaged $78,298. The UNION President claims it is only $68,050,

Paul I won’t argue with you but I will remind you that the median income in Lowell at that time was $45,271 so TEACHER’s are doing a lot better than most of the working class people in this city.

Given the tax increase of 2.2% last year and a projected (by me only so far) another tax increase of at least 2,5% the residents of this city cannot keep giving and giving and the city cannot afford to have a School Committee that is made up of members who are shills for the Teacher’s Union.

Listening to School Committee Candidate Bob Hoey the other morning and his ABSURD statement that “they are going after teachers” is scary. So is his we gave them 4% – 4% – 4% when I served and we had a lot of money. The City cannot afford that or even anything close to that now nor have a members who states “you’re never going to see anybody run that loves teachers more than me.”

In fact what we do need is a leader to stand up and start leading. It is time for someone to step forward and address the issues and start leading to resolve the.

A) Teacher’s Union Contract – Meet with the Manager / Mayor and Committee, figure out what the final and best offer is, present it and if as expected it is dismissed by the Teacher’s Union, go to binding Arbitration and start with fact-finding immediately. It is time to take a stand a say ENOUGH – we can’t keep giving and giving even if we want too. The fact the city has excess tax levy doesn’t mean that Lowell Teacher’s should get 2% or 3% a year for 3 years.

Based on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) data whether Paul likes it or not Lowell Ranks as the 6th Largest School District, Boston #1 yet the average Salary for a Boston teacher in a system with 54,312 students is – $79,263, while Lowell with 14, 075 students is -$78,298.

I’d fight to offer 1% a year for 3 years with the Teacher’s agreeing to Bi-Weekly pay and paying 5% more of health insurance or take my chances with Arbitration. It is time to end this and move on.

B) Lowell High School – The City already has Capital Debt and will take on more, we need a police station and need to maintain the schools that state paid for already (which we do NOT do a good job maintaining). We cannot afford to pay for land nor a long protracted Eminent Domain fight. Leave Lowell High where it is, go with Option 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…

We has a City haven’t been able to attract Businesses to the Hamilton Canal District, what makes any of these anti-downtown High School people think they can attract anyone to that site? Do we really need another empty building while taking in more and more debt? The School is centrally located, students can walk from all over and it makes zero sense to have the state willing to pay 79% of the bill to have to spend millions more on a land grab (non reimbursed) to leave another gaping hole downtown.

C) Superintendent – Don’t let past personal feelings get in the way of doing what is best for Lowell. FAIRLY judge each candidate on their answers and be open to the fact that maybe the local guy who knows the finances and the Politics of the city, at this time may very well be the best qualified candidate for the job. Maybe an outsider who has dealt with a large school district or has worked in one and understands the needs and challengers will shine and knock the interviewers out.

Like it or not, admit it or don’t this school committee and the past few have driven out 3 highly capable, qualified Superintendents over their own personal / political philosophy and whoever is chosen Supt. needs to be able to be political. Both with the School Committee and Teacher’s Union, that is a undeniable FACT!

This Committee has to get behind whoever is selected and it needs to be more than a 4-3 or 5-2 vote. Get on the same page and do what is BEST for Lowell, the School Dept and most importantly the STUDENTS!

The fact that we have very few City Council Candidates isn’t an indication that everyone is in support of the city administration and the Council. It is more a realization that the City has no real money and no big issue to attack the peresent councilors with.

This current Council ran on Public Safety and not much has improved, in fact we are now closing more Fire companies then we did under the last council but that is a hard sell. Plus the SUN is burying negative news since they wanted this Manager and Council. This term is a honeymoon, based on past actions, the SUN won’t be as nice the next 2 years. Given the terrible winter and tight State Budget, spending is going to be extremely tough and it will be hard enough to just have a service level budget. No meat to go after this current council other than they all seem more interested in spending than finding cost savings.

This Manager has to start finding the savings that the former administration and councilors found or in two years we could have at least 5 new Councilors.

For now do we replace Corey Belanger with Dave Conway? Bud Caulfield carried Belanger, Tom Golden carried Dan Rourke, can Pangy carry Conway? Will voters choose Joe Mendonca over Bill Samaras? Both quiet gentlemen , Joe has more fiscal knowledge while Samaras has a conflict with his kid working for Murphy. Can Vesna Nuon make a comeback and will it cost John Leahy if he does? Does Bill Martin run again or has he had enough? Have the voters had enough of him?

Not surprisingly the SEE-Speak and SAY nothing Council has no motion or quotes in the newspaper about local businesses being way over Assessed in taxes and having to fight to receive fair treatment. Not exactly Business friendly are they?

Starting May 4th the City will enforce Parking and meters on Saturday’s and weeknight’s up to SIX PM. My best guess is by June 1st we hear from several businesses downtown that weekend business is down 20 -30%. I used to be able to find a spot if I wanted one without having to pay. Now I’m not even going to try to find a spot if I have to pay when I can go to a mall or restaurant most anywhere else (Dracut, Tewksbury, Chelmsford, NH) and not have to feed the meters.

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One thought on “Sunday Notes April 19th 2015

  1. Averell

    I am sure there will be screams of outrage and denial after some people read this – but as a former city employee, I can recall at least one and possibly 2 occasions when times were tight and most unions agrred to take no pay raise or a very small one. And each time , the teachers demanded and got good raises. There were other times when the teachers raked in more than any of the other unions . I believe that they even threatened to strike or job action on other occasions. . I realize that teachers work hard – but let’s face it, so do other city employees. Mr Georges needs a realit6y check.

    Reply

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