Sunday Notes Sept. 17th – $19,000 Response – justifying the $250,000 Owed to School gets tougher

When I inquired to the Deputy Supt. of Schools about why we allow 5th and 6th graders attending the STEM Academy to have 90 hours a year less educational time than a 5th or 6th grader at the Pyne or Bartlett I received the following reply:

Thank you for your email. I am referring your request to the Superintendent for his consideration.

That’s worth the $19,000 in raises Bob Gignac and the current School Committee have given her over the past two years including bringing back the defunct Deputy Superintendent’s title and bestowing it on her. The Superintendent’s away and she refuses to answer a question about fairness to all students and teachers? No Thank You for pointing that out and we will review and get back to you or we are aware of the situation and are working on correcting it? Just a standard cookie cutter not my job to respond answer. Very disappointed in our Deputy Superintendent.

Must be part of that “New Vision” Gignac touts.

Administrator’s aren’t held accountable and don’t need to offer a proper response to the public, The Superintendent is allowed to submit and have a school committee approve a budget with funds that aren’t guaranteed, you have students attending the STEM Academy who go to school 90 hours a year less than other Lowell middle school students and we allow some individuals to teach at the STEM and receive full salary, while working 90 hours a year less than a teacher at another middle school in Lowell.

Not a vision I have for the Lowell School Dept.

Justifying the need for the $250,000 owed to the School Dept. gets tougher

The City Manager has pledge to find $250,000 the School Dept. and a couple of School Committee members said was needed but the process used to create another Administrative position and adding what might end up close to $100,000 or more in salary and benefits makes that hard to justify.

The School Dept Budget had 1 position doing 2 jobs at an approved Salary of $96,638.00 broken out by the Supt. as 2 part time items.

One week after the budget was approved and the person in that position announced he was leaving and even though the budget had been approved with a known $850,000 unfunded shortfall the Superintendent brought forward the following motion that this School Committee Approved.

Now according to the August recommended budget cuts from the Asst. Supt. of Finance, “Fringe Benefits” cost the School Dept. $10,000 per person. The fact you are adding a body by splitting the job in fact does add to the existing budget shortfall but the Committee approved it anyway.

We learned in the Superintendent’s first yearly newsletter that they have hired a New Family Resource Center Coordinator. What wasn’t and to my knowledge still hasn’t been made known to the School Committee or public is she was hired at a salary higher than the $96,638.00 the previous person was receiving for doing 2 jobs. I’ve heard it is somewhere between $100,000 – $106,000

I noticed this week they have reposted the Transportation Manager position at a salary of $65,000.00 Work Year: 12 months

Now at a Minimum of $165,000.00 between the 2 salaries and the additional $10,000 in benefits that exceeds the $146,638.00 the Supt. stated would cover those positions by $18,362.00 That is minimally $78,362.00 more in administrative cost than what the positions were budgeted for in the 2018 budget. Not to mention that it adds that amount to next year’s budget and any raises that go with that.

Now knowing what little I do about finance and budgeting I’m pretty sure the Asst. Superintendent or Superintendent will explain that by the time they hire a Transportation person (assuming they can find one for that price which in my opinion is doubtful) approx. 15 – 20 weeks will have passed and that would make the total salary less for this year, so they should be able to fund the salaries for these positions this year (although he never mentioned the additional cost of benefits).

He will also correctly point out that the School Committee APPROVED the positions and the “salary” which states: As per contract not understanding that it very well could cost more than the Superintendent claimed and he and the Asst. Superintendent should have made that known.

The Family Resources position would fall under I believe the LSAA Union and since it is my understanding that this person holds a Masters and is a Doctoral Candidate in Educational Leadership that would place her very high up on the salary step scale.

The additional cost of separating the job into two positions was never made clear and no one including a committee member whose career is as a School Business Manager realized by adding a body you automatically increase cost or that by using what is clearly one time additional “found” money you are adding to the existing deficit?

The cost increase may not stop there.

For many years if a child is not met at the bus stop for one reason or another than the process has been that the student is brought to the Family Resource Center downtown where the Transportation Director / FRC Coordinator with his staff would be responsible to contact the parent and look after the student until she/he were picked up and NO ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION.

I’m hearing that a proposal will be brought forward to instead transport these students to a designated school building where an Administrator would be assigned along with a couple of para professionals. The Administrator would then have to contact the Transportation Dept. or FRC so they could notify the parents of where they needed to pick up the student.

How that is going to be funded will be an interesting thing to watch and if it continues to evolve what was a budgeted $96,000 1 person job seems to be turning into close to $200,000 3 plus person job under the Superintendent and current School Committee.

Whether or not they try to convince the current FRC Coordinator to take on the after school childcare duties at no additional compensation will also be interesting to watch.

This entire process highlights the fiscal shenanigans that have gone on under this Superintendent and current School Committee and showcases their attitude of sitting back and allowing it without questioning.

Adding $65,000 and another $10,000 in Benefits to a budget when we had a component person in place who was looking for an increase similar to what the Asst. Supt. of Curriculum received would have saved the School Department $65,000 in salary and $10,000 in benefits. How do you justify that you need $250,000 when you are adding close to $100,000 or more in Administrative cost?

There needs to be someone on the School Committee who will ask fiscal questions and demand more real and accurate information.

I really do have them but because my daughter and grandchildren were up from Florida, selfishly I chose to spend all my available time the past 11 days with them. I THANK the many people who have asked for a sign and promise to put them out next weekend.

If you are willing to place a sign on your lawn, fence, house , tree, ect. I would very much appreciate that and you can email me at and I will bring one by next Sunday.

1 thought on “Sunday Notes Sept. 17th – $19,000 Response – justifying the $250,000 Owed to School gets tougher

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