Cawley is at min $8,177,015 MORE than Option 3 / What gets CUT for Busing?

Cawley at a 5 story 3 year build has total build cost from Skanska/Perkins Eastman of $336,138,724 of which the cost to the Lowell Taxpayer is $149,439,672

Option 3 Downtown a new 5 story plus complete renovation over a 4.5 year build has total build cost from Skanska/Perkins Eastman of $352,559,455 of which the cost to the Lowell Taxpayer is $143,232,657

That’s $6,207,015 more for Cawley before you add in the cost of Field Replacement which has to happen to meet article 97 requirements there is nothing optional about it.

That cost is $1,970,000 which is all city cost bringing the city cost up to $151,409,672

At a minimum that makes Cawley $8,177,015 more than Option 3 to the taxpayers of Lowell

That is before any traffic mitigation or sidewalk improvements are added in.

Students should get a yearly trip to Disney ,a puppy and busing!

I’m a little tired of those who make blanket statements like mine above only they say High School students should be provided busing no matter what the location and people including some candidates “like” that comment.

Yet the fiscal reality the city and school department face is ignored and no candidate or citizen has offered a way to pay the $3.2 million busing cost.

The City already increased their initial cash contribution this year, to $18,263,584 up from the original $18,005,691 bringing the Lowell Public School Operating Budget to $162,942,846 or $869,522.00 more than originally presented to the School Committee when the budget was released May 10th.

Of the city’s $18,263,584 cash contribution, $9,043,069 just under 50% is used for Transportation which reduces the actual cash contribution available to fun the operational budget.

Fact, the State Law for reasons beyond common sense, does not count Adult Education towards Net School spending and that amount $500,011 also get deducted from the cash contribution.

The cash contribution of $18,263,584 is really only $8,720,504 after those two deductions . Where is there room for High School busing without totally rezoning the city and changing start times in most middle and elementary schools at at Lowell High? at best that MAY make things close to cost neutral. Where is there fiscal room in the existing or future budgets to address the middle school crunch we keep hearing about?

On May 16th the Sun had a story about the budget for this year. It showed that the $349,925,167 preliminary budget includes an additional $3 million in funding for the schools over the prior year, but increased transportation and special-education costs have largely offset that new money, leaving the School Department with less discretionary cash than it had last year.

The Lowell Supt. of Schools was quoted about the need for additional funding in that article:

“We’re hoping that the city finds a way to help us with the rest of it,” Schools Superintendent Salah Khelfaoui said. “We just can’t find any other way to cut. The next cut we have to do is going to affect the schools. There’s no other way.”

I’ve shown we can offer LRTA bus passes for the current 1400 High School students who walk and attend school downtown at a cost of $280,000. What are the candidates from the Citizens for Cawley who support busing offering?

What are they proposing to cut to pay for High School busing? Athletics? ROTC? Performing Arts? Library Aides?

Cut the Stem Academy? Get rid of Art and Music in the elementary and middle schools? Do away with middle school sports?

Where is the $3.2 million coming from?

Raise taxes even more on low income families? We are eligible for the C.E.P program that provides free breakfast and lunch to ALL students because of the high number of families who qualify for free and reduced.

After a 7% – 8 % Tax increase to fund a new / renovated High School how much more do we tax those retired and elderly who are on a fixed income?

It’s ONLY TAXES! that’s what someone told me to justify the increase! To hell with my sister who raised her kids, owns a house, worked 35+ years and still works part time so she can do a little better than survive and actually enjoy her retirement. To hell with my neighbor up the street who is widowed, has lost two of her own kids and wants to stay in the family home. Sorry I may be a Curmudgeon and at times a Grumpy One but I refuse to be a cold hearted jerk just to get what I want over the needs of many others.

You can’t DEMAND the city find the money. We are already using reserves to fund the operational budget. Look at these FACTS:

In 2015 the City had $12 Million in the Stabilization / Rainy Day Fund. Last Tuesday at the City Budget hearing we heard Connor Baldwin the CFO of the City state to Councilor Jim Leary that the current “Reserves” or Rainy Day Account is $10.6 Million Dollars.

Will you advocate for cutting police? Closing more than 1 fire station per shift? Picking up trash twice a month instead of weekly? I WILL NOT!

Look at the “Free Cash” the remaining dollar amount at years end not used by each city department. In the last two years there is around $1,000,000 or less. That’s in a city with a budget north of $345,000,000. That is an indication on how tight the city runs its budget.

The State Dept. of Revenue (DOR) recommends 3% – 5% excess be built into a budget and for the past few years Lowell has been around 1%.

For those unfamiliar we (the city) were under the control of a State Fiscal Board once before and came darn close 15 years ago when the then City Manager used reserves to fund the budget and had us on the brink of being broke!!!

The reality is a new High School adds a $3.2 Million dollar expense to your operational budget for the Schools. The Superintendent has stated clearly that any further cuts directly affect classrooms so if you want High School busing tell me how we pay for it?