1. Request Administration to present by the first School Committee meeting in January 2019 a plan to rezone the district to “neighborhood” schools – presentation should include est. transportation cost saving along with number of students and schools affected and what the new start and dismissal times will look like.
We have to look at the challenges in doing this rezoning and know that it will be a very distributive event that will upset many students and parents and we have to keep the voluntary desegregation order in mind at all times.
I know it will be upsetting, I know a student who has been in the Pyne from K-6 and now will have to go to the Wang School for 7th/8th will be upset about losing his friends.
After Salaries and Insurance, Transportation is the next highest expense in the Budget.
“Regular” Education Transportation – $4,423,541
“Special” Education Transportation – $5,160,000
The City Administration of Lowell and the Lowell City Council understand the reality that the MEDIAN INCOME IN LOWELL IS MUCH LESS THAN THE STATE AVERAGE
Estimated median household income in 2016 was: $55,383 compared to the State average of $75,297 and that they cannot (and have not for most of the past 6 years) raised the tax rate the full 2.5% allowed under law because the citizens of this city can’t afford it.
Unfortunately they have NOT FULLY FUNDED TRANSPORTATION FOR THE SCHOOLS Separately from what the provide in a cash contribution.DESPITE the Fact it doesn’t count towards the Net School spending requirements .
Most expenditures from the school department’s budget count toward meeting the NSS requirement. Notable exceptions include the cost of transporting students to and from school; most capital facility costs; adult education costs; expenditures from grant and revolving funds; and expenditures reimbursed by the state.
What the City does is “give” the School System a specific amount of CASH (LESS THAN 15% OF THEIR REQUIRED NET SCHOOL SPENDING)included in that amount is the cost of transportation and Adult Education. The School Superintendent clearly highlights in the School Budget how small the actual cash contribution is.
Total City Cash Contribution $15,736,053 but that gets broken down after deducting these 2 items:
City of Lowell Cash Contribution for Transportation (-$9,600,541)
City of Lowell Cash Contribution Adult Education (-$486,274)
Leaving the Cash Contribution for day to day Operations at $5,649,238 out of a 2019 required amount of $47,390,803.00 (APPROX. 12% OF THEIR REQUIRED CONTRIBUTION)
The reality of school choices and what continues to happen is clear, Lowell Public Schools will continue to lose students to charter schools and private schools and once the Charter School opens their High School in the 2019/2020 school year and the Lowell High renovation/addition projects start we WILL LOSE MORE STUDENTS!
The more students we lose the more funding we lose the more cuts we are required to make. The more we cut the better the Charter and Private schools look to parents who want the best, brightest , most comprehensive newest programs and schools for their students (Don’t all of us as parents want what’s best for our students?)
Collegiate Charter School of Lowell has graciously donated $400,000 toward busing the previous 2 school years. With their building project happening they have stopped that for the 2018/2019 school year. They also have kindly pushed off changing their starting and dismissal time for the upcoming 2018/2019 School year to avoid costing the School Dept. more in Transportation. I know a lot of people oppose Charter Schools but the fact is this state allows and welcomes them, so I appreciate this particular schools desire to work with us to limit the expense, Next year we have to honor that change and will need to adjust starting times or face another high increase in transportation.
We have to either look at a way to decrease the cost of transportation by going back to the neighborhood school concept or be prepared after losing Libraries in our schools to lose Art / Music /Computers next!
The taxpayers of Lowell will be asked shortly to take a 6%-10% (in my own personal view) tax increase to fund the High School project. I don’t see the City Council approving another increase to fully fund their transportation obligations, especially since we need our Fire stations and Police station repaired.
While I would love to see the proposed changes to the Foundation Budget get fully implemented I don’t think the MA. Legislatures are willing to increase the Income tax from 5.1% to 9.5% or 13% to achieve that. The millionaire’s tax is still in court and may not even make the ballot and if it does, there are no guarantee’s it passes or gets implemented without another court battle.
There is also a November ballot question to reduce the Sales tax which will reduce the amount of local and chapt. 70 money. The State would have to raise Income tax just to offset the loss in Sales tax if that passes.
The fact that the Supreme Court just basically legalized sports gambling could negatively affect State Lottery revenues which also causes decreases in State funds to city’s and towns.
If we don’t look at changing the way we have always done things (or at least for many years) than we can’t expect different results and we have to at least start the process and have the conversations and show the need to rezone and then show we have done so while seeking to keep the consent decree in place and make sure ours schools stay diverse.
I expect people to be unhappy,to complain,to suggest imbalance, unfairness, prejudice, exclusion, hardship, threaten to leave the school system, leave the city, not vote for me etc.
That’s all okay..I know that going in but the fiscal reality is what I have my eye on and that reality means if we don’t cut cost, we cut programs and staff and I will fight to stop that until I am out-voted or voted out!