The School Dept submitted a grant request that included getting reimbursed for matching funds during Deputy Superintendent Lang’s waining time in Lowell.
What’s very telling to me in the above letter is the fact that Asst Superintendent Lang states there is $800,000 in the Comcast Account but since the former Administration then the City took the account over, those reserves have disappeared.
Last December the City was notified that the reimbursement for the Grant was issued then confirmed it was received into the City’s General Fund.
Unfortunately there is no documentation showing the past administration requested the reimbursement to the School Dept. or requested the current School Committee vote to ask for it.
The question I have now is does the City owe that matching funding to the School Dept or since it is listed as E-Rate related and refers to PEG (Comcast) funds, will the City claim they deserve or are entitled to the reimbursement?
Will the Manager and CFO claim that because the funding was not requested by the former School Administration in the last fiscal year, that the money went into “free cash” and is no longer available?
Why Is looking for $ that may rightfully belong to the School Dept and seeking it to try and balance the budget being painted by the Sun as looking for or seeking a bailout? We have a fiduciary responsibility to balance this budget.
Does the City even have $533,000 to reimburse School Department per Grant?
What you won’t and haven’t heard from the City Council and read very little about in the Lowell Sun, is that the financial shape of the city is not much better than the School Departments.
When you freeze hiring, require Managers approval for Purchase Orders over $1,000 dollars and Manager’s approval for Overtime in the second quarter of a new fiscal year that is a huge Financial RED FLAG WARNING. When you have to “borrow” $2.5 million dollars from the City’s Savings to fund your operating expenses while not even sure you are getting back $2.5 million in “Free Cash” to repay it, it’s a Fiscal Red Flag.
The Sun has largely ignored these issues instead focusing in on the School Department and placing blame for the financial issues on this new Committee who is working to resolve it.
Why the continuing blame on the SC? because of the Suns contempt for the UTL Leadership and the contract granted by Mayor Kennedy and the former School Committee of which 4 members remain, combined with the Suns desire to protect the current and the last City Manager.
A few City Councilors, Kennedy and his followers Conway and Cirillo along with the suddenly awoken “Fiscal Watchdog” Elliott, have tried to keep the Fiscal eyes on the School Dept and off the city’s finances, which under Mayor Kennedy’s term took a downward trend on both the City and School side. This also occurred under the sleeping or closed eyes of the self-proclaimed Fiscal Watchdog during his ahem ..“Big Brothers” term.
The truth is the School Dept because of the foolish hiring of the former Superintendent by Conway and Elliott (along with then SC members Kim Scott and KRS) after what occurred in Winchendon was setting up this School District to fail financially from the get go.
While Mayor Kennedy did an outstanding job in leading the fight to keep LHS downtown his and the former School Committee’s lack of financial oversight along with Mayor Kennedy’s obsession with granting a contract for political pettiness payback against Murphy and Elliott and not paying attention to finances make them all partially responsible for the current financial conditions in the School District.
The former Superintendent and Asst Superintendent of Finance are the ultimate ones responsible for the financial malfeasance but with the previous events in Winchendon which should have mandated more financial oversight the last two Mayors and School Committee’s share responsibility for failing to do so.
Last night’s meeting which criticized the School Dept’s maintenance of the outside school grounds despite the fact that for years the City Managers and City Council including this one, have neglected to fund maintenance of these buildings, was a joke and a sad example of political finger pointing to deflect their own neglectful ways and to once again deflect attention from the City’s lack of maintenance.
There is no doubt in my mind , based on the slanted Sun story and inaction of this Manager in regards to this issue which was brought to her attention last week that the City can’t or won’t provide additional funding and that this Council and Manager will NOT reimburse the School Dept the $533,000 that we feel is due because the City doesn’t have the funding, resulting in more cuts this time to items directly affecting student service like tutors.
We on the current School Committee have to review and revise existing policies and procedures in the Financial division of the School Dept (assuming any exist) and I am confident that our current Asst Superintendent of Finance can and will present to us policies to tighten up all procedures to try to insure some of this malfeasance can’t happen again.
I will continue to push for fairer funding from the City especially in the maintenance of effort agreement that I believe was violated by the Murphy Administration and needs to be revised.
I still don’t know why asking for $ that maybe rightfully belong to the school department is portrayed in a negative light or in the same way as seeking a bailout?