Still time to compromise and support EVERY School and Student!

Dear City Councilors,

As a potential School Committee member I have to look at the overall picture of what is best for the entire district not my personal preference. I will support a new LHS wherever you decide to put it but I feel compelled to ask you to take a look at what is best for ALL 23 schools and the entire school district not just improving one school.

I started out liking the concept of Cawley based on a rendering with much green space and lower cost but we ended up with a 5 story office building surrounded by parking. I prefer option 3 but after the discussions that took place after UMASS bought the Perkins building I can understand the reluctance to take another business completely off the tax rolls.

Lack of school maintenance has and continues to be a major issue in this city. Are you willing to commit to one school and continue to let the other 23 fall into such disrepair that we have to start replacing them?

It has been shown pretty clearly that the present Cawley 5 Story site calls for 7.75% tax increase.. $293 additional tax dollars per year to the “average” homeowner of a $253,000 home.

Adding in field replication ($1.97M) and infrastructure ($3.85M) are one-time costs that would increase Cawley 5 to approx. $155.82M. The average tax increase would be 8.0% and approx. $304 a year instead of $293.

Busing however is a recurring operational cost, estimated at about $3.2M It cannot be added to the debt service, the city would have to raise the taxes over and above the cost of the new school.

If $1.9M increase taxes by $56.82, than $3.2M would be another $95.70 a year.

When that is included, the increase to the average single family property would be $304 for the HS at Cawley + $95.70 a year for busing = $400.00 additional cost per year for the Cawley 5 option which come out to a 10.5% Tax increase.

If you don’t support Option 3 because you are taking taxable property then let’s all compromise and make the tax increase to the citizens 9.01% with Option 2 and a citywide maintenance plan with committed money for every school.

We get a renovated High School with a new wing and field house and also support every neighborhood school!

How much time and how many meetings have occurred around the subject of School maintenance and frustration over the conditions of our schools?

Isn’t it time to finally commit to a maintenance plan that addresses all 15,000 students in 23 schools instead of putting all our resources in 1 building?

“ The Nutter Plan for Maintenance”

IF you assign $100,000 a year to 12 schools (12 schools year 1 – 11 others year 2 continually rotating) for the School Site Councils to decide what needs to be fixed, painted, carpeted etc. that’s $1.2 Million a year in maintenance.

That would leave $800,000 a year to be used for regular or major repairs or replacements of boilers, roof repairs, water fountains, banisters, stairs, bathroom toilets / sinks, holes in wall, broken light figures. etc.

The new Lowell High would be included in that rotated $100,000 EACH year making sure we keep up the High School. Something I believe the MSBA requires a maintenance plan.

That way we would not only have a combination of a New and Renovated LHS but 22 middle and elementary schools that are now adequately maintained and in top condition. Every student citywide and EVERY family citywide would benefit and everyone would be proud of their neighborhood schools.

How many times in the past few years has there been combined School Committee and City Council meeting to discuss the need for better, improved maintenance for every school?

I understand budgets are tight, not only is the City already using $2,000,000 in reserves to fund the budget but because of the OPEB – Other Post Employment Benefits responsibility, we find out that the city’s liability exceeds its assets. We have to be fair to all with our funds.

This City Administration can’t or couldn’t find $250,000 for the School Department this fiscal year, how will you find $3.2 million for busing? Today only 59% of neighborhood schools are selected has the first choice by parents when registering a new student. It doesn’t appear eliminating city wide schools is going to be an option most parents would support. That means the idea of rezoning or redistricting is going to be met with opposition from parents.

The city “owes” the school dept. the $250,000 for the upcoming 2017/2018 School year based on the budget hearings. Mayor Kennedy had to make a motion on this week’s agenda to get it addresses. In addition the schools may lose 3 Resource Officers that the Supt. reassigned the salaries back to the city.

State funding is also in jeopardy. The State of MA. just had there bond rating decreased due to the large deficit in projected revenue and the State still may have to cut the proposed 2018 fiscal budget.

Can the taxpayers and City really afford the Cawley Option?

Presently Cawley would be $133.70 more a year than the option 2 Downtown site including busing cost, not to mention the traffic impact from the Hunts Fall Rotary all the way out to the Lowell/Tewksbury Line on Rte 38 and 133. There will be buses going down Douglas Road that is a certainty.

The present projected Cawley site also doesn’t take into account the cost of taking land for eminent domain to widen roads. We would not be taken businesses but the land of several businesses and that will come close to another Million dollars or more, all paid by the taxpayers of Lowell.

Under my proposal we get a new building, renovated high school and a funding program that provides maintenance for every school in the city. It is approx.$86 a year cheaper than the Cawley site for the taxpayers.

I understand you are all under a great deal of political pressure. When has the Lowell Sun EVER Endorsed a 10.5% Tax hike? What has caused the self proclaimed Fiscal Watchdog who has questioned the rising cost of the project and voted against tax increases on a regular basis to suddenly switch to the costliest option for the Lowell Taxpayer (assuming the Sun is correct and he’s for Cawley). POLITICAL PRESSURE!

It is time to ignore all of it and stand up for ALL the students and families citywide. The High School students who walk and who use the social services downtown and for all students who go to a school which now has broken toilets, rips and holes in walls, chipping paint, frayed carpeting, broken water fountains, bathroom doors that don’t lock or are falling off, missing or falling ceiling tiles, cafeteria’s that haven’t been painted or had new tables since I went to middle school.

I find it sad that many continue to post pictures of the current state of Lowell High but most elected and appointed officials are aware that many of our current middle and elementary schools aren’t in that much better condition. No one is posting pictures of these schools.

I have requested a current copy of all open work orders in the schools that I will share and remind everyone of. If we can’t take care of our existing schools what makes you certain we can or will take care of a new LHS.

We still have a chance to COMPROMISE and improve EVERY SCHOOL for EVERY STUDENT in EVERY PART OF THE CITY! If you support a 10.5% increase for Cawley or a 9.5% increase and taking a business of the tax rolls…why wouldn’t you instead support this compromise that benefits the entire city?

Under Ed Reform School Site Councils are supposed to have school improvement plans, this city doesn’t and hasn’t funded maintenance to allow these improvements, many just basic repairs to happen because we haven’t had the funding.

Now is your chance, 10.5% increase to the taxpayers plus the ROW cost needed for busses on Rogers and Douglas Road for 1 school of 3,300 students or an approx. 9.01% (Option 2 compromise with the additional funding for maintenance) increase for ALL schools and ALL 14,416 students.

If not now when?

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