Sunday Notes July 30th 2017 – Signatures, PAC Party, Deficit may grow!

I don’t understand why some people are so upset about the Save Lowell High Group collecting signatures to put this non binding question on the ballot or the objection to the wording.

The group is following MA. Law which is stated on the signature sheet, the question while not mentioning specifics does say the city is reviewing several options and the question is specifically asking if you support renovating the existing location all being done by a group titled Save Lowell High. Why would anyone expect the question to mention Cawley?

To also question the knowledge of the residents by saying people may not know there is another choice to me insults the intelligence of the community. People from Western Ma and New Hampshire know what is going on here has does the MSBA.

They have the legal right to do what they are doing and it has no negative effect on the existing project at all at this point.

I’m of the opinion that the MSBA in August will kick the preferred solution back to the city for further review in hope that the division over issues can be worked out and resolved to allow a more united community.

I think when that happens the City Council will put two questions on the ballot, the one above and one which ask about the Cawley site, then the people will decide.

Even Ted Panos admitted that when you look at the total votes including the School Committee minus the duplicate votes of people on multiple committees the vote is 14-14 with one elected official who refused to clearly take a position instead stating he would support the Councilor’s vote.

There is no mandate for Cawley but there is a vote for it and until the MSBA officially votes to fund the submitted project, anything is still possible.

Successful PAC Party

Congratulations to the Citizens for Lowell on what I hear was a successful kickoff Party at the Athenian Corner. A group of concerned citizens supporting a specific location for the High School lawfully showing their support by raising funds to support specific candidates who agree with their position.

I haven’t heard this group being criticized for lawfully doing what they can to support the location they feel is best.

Thrown under the BUS!

The City Manager’s efforts to find an additional $250,000 for the Lowell Public Schools Fiscal Year 2018 budget has not yet been resolved. He better be prepared to find more than that.

If you believe the rumor mill the Supt. and Mayor were behind the “review” of the current bus contract. That was 100% pure stick it to a departing employee who didn’t follow the Mayor’s wishes to make the Cawley Site look like a HUGE increase for busing but showed an alternative plan that made it almost neutral. The Superintendent has in my view driven out many people associated with former Dep. Supt. Lang and when possible made them look bad.

Together the Mayor and Supt.want this employee to look bad and in conflict when the truth is it’s the Deputy Superintendent of Business and the Supt. who should have addressed any concern with language before this went out for bid.

Despite the way it appears to be painted in the paper, the Transportation Director does NOT write the request for proposals. All RFQ or RFP’s come from the Asst. Supt. Finance / Business Office and get submitted to the City Purchasing Dept. It was an error by the Asst. Supt.’s office responsible for the wording that was deemed ‘worrisome”.

There is a better than even chance according to a Western Mass official I spoke with, that this busing contract the City voided will come in HIGHER than what it was. He also pointed out that if busses are not required to be housed in Lowell than the City also will lose out on excise taxes paid by the bus company. An excise tax in the amount of $25 per thousand is assessed upon the value of the vehicle. The excise is levied for a full calendar year and is assessed by the community where the motor vehicle is customarily garaged.

So the City Manager may need to “find” closer to $300,000 + if the contract comes in higher and the City loses around $35,000 -$50,000 in Excise Tax. Not a win-win for anyone

Is Lowell too Provincial?
Nashua North principal named interim head of Lowell High

Lowell became the fourth MVC school to hire a new AD when they reached out to a fellow school and nabbed Dave Lezenski from Billerica.

I’m well aware of the limited input a School Committee member has in the hiring process of the School Dept. under Education Reform. However I’ve been contacted by some staff and parents about what seems to be a pattern of not hiring / promoting from within the school dept. especially in these two positions. It does seem hard to believe that we don’t have a qualified candidate for AD in house.

Is it a case of people being to Provincial? Maybe we as a city are so used to people we know and grew up with having these jobs that we assume they always will. Times are changing and we have to get used to that and become adaptable or we will wallow in frustration.

To the Superintendent’s “credit” a couple of longtime school employees have in fact been promoted (Fred McOsker and Jim Neary to Principal positions) and Nan Murphy from a Principal to the Administration so it isn’t like this Supt. is “blackballing” current staff but there are rumblings by people that these two positions should be hired from within and after the Rozmiarek failure there is concern that the good work of Brian Martin will be wasted.

If you look at it a little closer and objectively, the new AD not only has experience but has lived here in Lowell for 26 years, not exactly a blow in. Marianne Busteed has a very diversified background and LHS has never had a women leader so this appointment should be applauded in my view. If she is successful she may be the perfect leader and seek the role permanently.

There is in my view some credence to the appearance this Supt. is moving away from people associated with the Jean Franco / Jay Lang team and many of “their people” have left or been encouraged to leave, being replaced by people who will be loyal to this Superintendent.

Under Ed Reform he has great leeway and authority over hiring and like it or nor there is little any School Committee member can or should do about it.

School Building Committee Meeting

Next meeting is this Thursday August 3rd and here is the Agenda.