Sunday Notes July 17th 2016

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” Break Even” and I’m worried!

Generally at the end of a fiscal year in both the city and school side there is some money remaining from all of the accounts that is termed “Free Cash”. History will show on the school side it is usually around $1,000,000 which allows the School Committee and Administration some flexibility for 1 time purchases of technology or text book.

Much like the City side which was extremely low, we are being told the school side will “Break Even”. I’m no municipal finance guru nor do I play one on the blog or radio but in my small business world I cannot run negative accounts without transferring funds from one to another to cover cost and yet we see line after line of negative numbers in this report from the School dept. CFO who states

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We have seen the Manager transfer funds at year’s end to cover shortfalls, why doesn’t the school administration have to do the same and can they do it after the fiscal year has ended? What happens if the estimate of breaking even ends up in a shortfall?

This again indicates to me that we are running this city on a shoestring and sooner or later will have to answer for that. I assume people (taxpayers / homeowners / business owners) would rather accept a 2.5% property tax increase year after year than have to deal with a 1.25% this year but a 7.5% or 8% next year.

Most contracts were settled with a 3% salary increase, health insurance is going up and there is still in my view an $7.8 Million dollar question hanging over the city regarding school transportation.

Why are we waiting to raise the property taxes 2.5%? We all heard the concerns when UMass took $321,000 of taxable property off the books. The administration and councilor’s cannot continue to keep taxes lower than 2.5% or else Lowell taxpayers and businesses will be facing a 7% or 8% tax increase within 2 years.

Paying old Political Debts?

Is Mayor Kennedy that interested in LHS and the School System in general or is there some type of old political score to settle with Brian Martin?? Is Kennedy setting things up for the current Supt. to not renew Martin’s contract ? LHS has had a tough year with racial issues and Lowell political people love the chance to get political payback. Brian Martins been around a long time and has many political detractors. on this week’s school committee agenda:

5. 2016 / 287 [by Mayor Edward Kennedy]: Request that the Superintendent and the Lowell High School Administration provide a report regarding the number of Lowell High School graduates that have gone on to a 4 year college or a 2 year college over each of the past 5 years. The report should include an analysis that explains why the number of graduates who attend college is low and what action the Lowell High School
Administration is taking to improve the percentage.

6. 2016 / 288 [by Mayor Edward Kennedy]: Request that the Superintendent and the Lowell High School Administration assess the current curriculum and course offerings at Lowell High School and develop improvements to the curriculum and identify any needs that would have to be incorporated into the design of a new high school facility.

7. 2016 / 289 [by Mayor Edward Kennedy]: Request that the Superintendent and the Lowell High School Administration provide a report that addresses the issues regarding suspensions and expulsions cited in the recent 2014-15 Student Discipline Data Report from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The report should include an analysis why certain suspensions and expulsions are so high at Lowell
High School and what action is being taken to reduce the number of suspensions and expulsions.

8. 2016 / 290 [by Mayor Edward Kennedy]: Request that the Superintendent or Lowell High School Headmaster provide an update on the progress being made by the STEM Steering Committee in establishing a STEM curriculum at Lowell High School.

Only so much “Public Information” given to the public

Interesting that the school committee agenda has an item that states – Report of Superintendent’s First Year Goals but the packet which wasn’t published until Friday only has this note:

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So does this item: Response to Connie Martin’s Motions of 05/04/16 and 06/01/16 Regarding Mass Teacher Evaluation Protocol and Annual Principal and Teacher Evaluations.

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If you don’t publish this information to the public when they are public documents it does make one wonder why? Both reports should have been made available in the packet.

Rumors..get your political rumors here!

One thing about the political bubble…even when all seems quite in the city and in the political spectrum rumors fly year round and of course you hear the same ones from 3-4 people and they firmly believe that they know the scoop. These two are causing the most buzz

1) An attempt is underway to force out (again?) Jim Cook from the Lowell Plan, install State Rep.Tom Golden and that will allow Kevin Murphy to stay on another year or two as Manager with Golden looming over him.

2) The reason the women on Barclay Street was allowed to commit a hit and run without being charged with leaving the scene of an accidents while causing property damage and NOT checked for level of sobriety is:

A) She’s a police officers girlfriend
B) She’s related to an Elected Official
C) or she’s related to a police officer and/or the girlfriend of an elected official.