I believe I and most of my colleagues are doing what we think is in the best interest of the students and district yet some continue painting this committee as dysfunctional, uncooperative and divided. .
In my view that is totally inaccurate and false.
One of the challengers states:
The financial crisis and inability of the current committee to work cooperatively with the superintendent and city council is what drove me to run!
while another gave their reason to run as
Treatment of the past Superintendent
Two of the current challengers came and spoke in favor of keeping the former Administration the night we voted to place the Supt. on administrative leave. Apparently ignoring the fiscal mismanagement of that administration!
One of them stated in a Spring 2019 radio interview that they still had not read either the Fiscal Audit or the Powers and Sullivan report. The Lowell Public Schools cannot afford that lack of fiscal oversight by school committee members again!
The financial crisis has for the most part been resolved and addressed by this School Committee led by myself,
and Mayor Samaras, with strong support from Connie Martin, Jackie Doherty and Andy Decouteaux.
The “new” CFO Billie Jo Turner along with former Supt. Jeannine Durkin have put procedures in place to try to insure it doesn’t happen again.
This School Committee may have had an inability to work cooperatively with the FORMER Supt but how were we supposed to cooperate with an administration who put us in a HUGE Financial hole, owing the state over $2,000,000 in the revolving food service account, charging other accounts incorrectly and per the outside Auditors HIRED by the City
“ intentionally withheld food service and general fund invoices during 2018 with the intent to charge the expenditures to the 2019 budget.”
An Administration who submitted a budget without School Committee approval and for 8 months NEVER informed the School Committee of that action. An action which DESE states isn’t suppose to happen! How should we have dealt with all that? Allow on the average $700,000 year of Food Service funds to continue to be misused and wait until the food service deficit got larger? Ignore not receiving accurate information or having motions that were passed ignored?
I believe we acted in the best interest of the School District!
To those who say we are split or divided I say do some research and look at the facts. Most motions are passed 7- 0 , 6-1, occasionally 5-2 but you NEVER constantly see a 4-3 split! For the most part we have functioned well together , just look at the votes!
WE have selected and work well with current Supt.Boyd who listened for OUR calls for diversity and has made great inroads for the first time in my lifetime with diversity in the Central Office and in Leadership roles. A young dynamic charismatic leader who has reached out and listened to many in the community and is establishing a Strategic plan for the Lowell School System.
For the 1st time in Lowell, School Site Councils have input on spending, School based budgeting has been implemented , Jackie Doherty has been leading this mission of parental involvement for years with support from myself, Andy and Connie who welcome the efforts to get parents more included / involved and have embraced the participation of Project Learn and the Citywide Family Council.
Yet one candidate opposed the hiring of Dr. Boyd, the same candidate who spoke in favor of the former administration!
It is NOT the responsibility of the School Committee to work cooperatively with the City Council , by design of Law we have different missions and responsibilities. Our role is to advocate for the School Dept. and students.
Those that claim we should lobby City Councilors don’t understand the Law under Ed Reform which CLEARLY states:
(G.L. c. 71, [[section]] 38N) The school committee has authority to determine expenditures within the total appropriation voted by the city or town. The city or town appropriating body is authorized to make non-binding monetary recommendations to increase or decrease certain items allocating such appropriations, but it may not limit the school committee’s authority to determine expenditures within the total appropriation. (G.L. c. 71, [[section]] 34)</blockquote>
Or understand Plan E
the City Manager SETS THE BUDGET, The Council can make cuts or send it back but cannot add funding!
While I respect the role of the Council in the budget process and have had discussion with most of them, it is the City Manager we need to work cooperatively with. Some Councilors gets annoyed with our advocacy the Manager understands that is part of our role.
Councilors usually only have half of the required information when addressing school issues, usually speaking about schools to try to advance / solidify their politic standing not to work cooperatively with the School Committee! (see copier and dismissing the former Supt. issues)
Shouldn’t cooperation and collaboration be a two way street?
I’m proud to say as a result of our vocal advocating, for the first time in many years we are getting repairs done at many schools, we have passed motions to join the MSBA repair program and have 6 schools receiving new roofs and boilers.
We also have had several ongoing discussions to review and update the existing NET School Spending agreement to try to get the City to contribute more in cash than in charge backs!
We have been able to achieve this through working cooperatively with the current City Manager. Manager Donoghue has been a tremendous partner with the School Committee and BOTH Supt. Durkin and current Supt. Boyd in addressing these issues and has met with myself, other school committee members along with the administration and is open to work out a new NET School spending agreement. The upcoming State Comprehensive District Audit results should identify that it is very much needed.
Manager Kevin Murphy to his credit started to try to address issues but Manager Donoghue has really spearheaded this and because of our advocating, which is what our role is, has helped push this Council to approve the Manager’s motions to address several years of lack of maintenance that resulted in many schools to end up in disrepair. Manager Donoghue has been a leader in addressing repairs and facilities and dedicated monies in the Capital Plan to continue to address these much long required repairs and updates!
Manager Donoghue has shown the strongest commitment of any of the past few City Managers towards improving the Lowell School Systems facilities and funding. She has repeatedly shown a strong desire to work cooperatively with the School Administration and School Committee to continue to move Lowell Schools forward.
In my view the Lowell School System has begun to move forward. It isn’t going to be a fast or easy process. Change is hard and takes time, “We’ve ALWAYS Done it This Way” is an unofficial City motto.
Bumps like copier contracts , heating issues, and vaccination policies slow us down. Lesser issues like nicknames getting more attention than issues like our tremendous Latin Lyceum, ROTC program, Performing Arts programs, Athletic programs, Knowledge Bowl, College placement and the many Grants received along with the many other positive programs we have in Lowell that should be highlighted and talked about often get overlooked.
We have a strong Administrative team in place and continuing to work with Manager Donoghue and the majority of this School Committee who are committed to continue to move Lowell Schools forward is a positive for Lowell.
I can only advocate for myself to stay as part of this team and I humbly ask you for 1 of your 6 votes to be re-elected to the Lowell School Committee!