Sunday Notes January 8th 2017

State Verifies that City EXCEEDED NET SCHOOL SPENDING

screen-shot-2017-01-06-at-9-40-32-am

This form show $5,000,000 but the Manager stated the final number could be closer to $9,000,000

Is it ever enough?

I’m a huge supporter of public education and think Lowell overall has a great system with a strong majority of teachers who not only love their job but excel at it. Most of the Principal’s and Asst. Principals I have met and dealt with along with a large amount of administrator are the same. However just like any profession, there are a loud, vocal minority who will complain at every given chance and grieve anything they can.

The LSAA UNION has that vocal minority in my opinion.

This City under this Manager has exceeded Net School Spending and this City Manager also cut $100,000 from the Chargebacks taken by the city for Parking. Is that enough? Is it ever enough?

It still not enough for the greedy, malcontents of the LSAA and this Superintendent!

The existing lease agreement for 155 Merrimack St does in fact specify the garages (Roy garage on Market St. and Downs garage on John St).

parking

There is nothing in the LSAA contract that identifies a specific garage unless you are assigned to the downtown schools then it calls out the Ayotte and John St garages.

I would think it would be the School Committee not that Union to argue a lease violation but the Union grievance is solely based on that lease language.

The LSAA contract is very clear on grievance steps. They seem to chose to ignore that portion of their contract.

Instead of discussing things with the School Committee who in all likelihood would have brought in the City Manager to explain the rationale of the move and try to appease them, they apparently didn’t inform the School Committee.

In my view, if the Union wants to try and grieve the fact the the LEASE is being violated (and the Superintendent seems to support that) then in the same light, it appears that if the public comments of the Lowell School Committee members are in fact 100% truthful and the Superintendent didn’t inform them of this grievance nor did the Union than it appears to me that the Union and the Superintendent willfully and knowingly violated sections 3 & 4 of the contract and did not fill out and submit the attached grievance form to them and did not file the grievance in the 1 month time frame outline in section 4.

LEVEL THREE
In the event that the grievance shall not have been satisfactorily disposed of at Level Two, or in the event that no decision has been rendered within five (5) work days after the Level Two meeting, the Association may within five (5) work days refer the grievance in writing to the Committee on a facsimile of Appendix B, as attached. Within five (5) workdays thereafter, the Committee shall meet with the aggrieved employee and the Association’s Grievance Committee in an effort to settle the grievance.

append-b

level-4

I was critical of the last School Committee for letting the grievances get to a point that it cost the city $800,000. I’m much more critical of this LSAA grievance and the fact it appears from what the public comments have been that this Superintendent and Union purposely kept this from the School Committee.

It would be terrible to find out Mayor Kennedy or the School Committee knew about the grievance before the Mass Labor filing of Dec. after feigning shock in the newspaper.

I would urge this Committee to file their own unfair labor practice charge against the Union for not notifying them as required and for Not filing in a timely manner.

Do NOT give in, fight this!!

Proposed contract is now a public Document!

Watching the fiasco that was the hastily called meeting to force a contract with the Superintendent of Schools was a laughable affair.

First the Mayor wanted a motion to approve the contract that was being passed out has the meeting began, something we saw while watching on LTC. Bob Hoey wanted instead to accept the last contract offer from the Supt. but the Mayor stated that was NOT what he was looking for and instead wanted a motion to approve the contract that was just passed out for members to look at.

Why you would want or a expect anyone to approve something they are just receiving without giving them a chance to review defies logic but really this push to give a term defined contract has been illogical from the get go.

Instead Steve Gendron made a motion to go into Executive session to review this contract and when thy came back on air at LTC you only saw a vote with members missing approving something but not knowing what because LTC missed the start.

Since the contract was passed out among the members at the public meeting and the Mayor requested a vote on it, that now becomes a public document and the public will have the right to see it. I filed a public records request with both the school department and copied the City Law Dept at the suggestion of the Sec. of States office after verifying that the contract was in fact passed out at the start of the meeting.

A Repeat of the past!

Remember what Connie Martin told us about why she and Jackie Doherty among others decided to NOT offer another contract to Chris Scott – We could no longer trust the information she was providing was accurate

Based on the above Parking grievance, the mishandling of the Circuit Breaker money, the number of transfers made, remade and corrected to lose out the last year and his public misstatements on WCAP, other than to stick it to Manager Murphy, why is this School Committee led by the Mayor working so hard to give this man a term defined contract?

I would NOT give this Superintendent a term defined contract. Why would you reward such behavior? My fear is this might pass.

In my opinion The Mayor is pushing this so hard for purely political reasons and Gendron who owe the Supt. for the way the texting scandal was mishandled, might be supportive, Andy Descoteaux is a retired union teacher and supports contracts and Bob Hoey thinks this Superintendent is great and that all teachers deserve $100,000 Salary.

I’m concerned they will continue to ignore the constant financial missteps and misstatements and just go along with the Mayor in giving this Supt. a term defined contract.

Protecting your constituents / neighborhood – Councilor’s want another look at South Common!!

C. Belanger/C. Leahy – Req. City Mgr. Have SKANSKA Provide Report Outlining The Rejection Of The South Common As A Viable Location For New High School.

Those people who believe that there is a conspiracy to keep the High School out of Belvidere get more fuel for their theory with the above motion that stems from a request that Steve Gendron made at the meeting the other day that was voted down.

With the latest 3 locations being considered and what looks like the Cawley site being not only the most practical but cost effective the Belvidere elected officials (most of our Councilor’s and a few School Committee members) are getting nervous.

We know that the South Common, is city-owned and centrally located but far too small and would require special legislation to be filled to get state approved because you would be taking recreation space. That’s one of the reasons the site was vetoed by the Project Managers and High School Site Committee.

Another more common sense concern for citywide residents is that with the Lupoli Redevelopment, the Judicial center going into the Hamilton canal and the redevelopment of Thorndike st. traffic wise it make no sense to try and shoehorn a High School on that location. Better to inconvenience citywide residents than the Belvidere residents who turn ou and elect the Council and School Committee is what the conspiracy theorist will say.

There’s also that pesky South Common Master Plan that the City has developed and I believe these two councilors supported!!

South Common Plan

South Common Plan

Eminent domain would likely cost more than site work on Cawley!

I thought taking the dentist office was off the table? but I’m told nothing is off the table. The conspiracist will again point out that those that want to force the High School to stay put will end up costing the city more by going through the legal fight to take that land. The city would be responsible for all cost related to the land taking, the state reimbursement would be zero.

Based on the drawings offered the other day and what the final cost will be (which won’t be known for a few weeks) I’m leaning to fully supporting the Cawley location and layout in this rendering if it is the most cost effective.

It’s easier to find a place for a new softball field than it would cost to force out the dentist office.

There is still a HUGE concern that moving LHS would leave a giant hole in the downtown. The city has had very little growth in Hamilton Canal, the JDCU building on Merrimack has been empty for a year and the Smith Baker Center is a decaying white elephant. The best use study showed there wasn’t a big interest in that building especially since it’s in the historic district and has a lot of restrictions.

cawley

Coming Soon to City of Lowell Website!

I’m very happy to see that the City will be providing information about a LHS project including (I’m assuming) the different location proposals and finance options on their website much like Somerville did.

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Tax Levy Information

I don’t pretend to fully understand the exact way the city calculates what the tax rate will be to meet their tax levy obligations. However I’ve found a few items that help me to get a better understanding.

chapter5

Explains the process and explains the terms we hear from the city officials.

taxraterecap_160_2017

This is the form the City submits to the State Dept. of Revenue to get approval to finalize the tax rate.

levylimit_160_2017

Shows how the Tax Levy limit is calculated. Here’s a link to several reports you can find on the State’s website.

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One thought on “Sunday Notes January 8th 2017

  1. Ray

    Gerry I’m not one to normally throw too many stones, here comes the but. But have you seen some of theses teachers that are mad about having to walk a few extra tenths of a mile? They need the exercise. Boo who.

    Regards Ray Vail

    >

    Reply

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