Leaving Lowell School System in better shape than I found it!

I had the privilege and it is a Privilege to have served one term on the School Committee. Tomorrow Wednesday Dec. 18th is my last meeting and I will walk out with my head high knowing I am leaving the system in MUCH BETTER SHAPE THAN WHEN I STARTED!

Before I was elected I lobbied and lobbied until Lowell joined the C.E.P program that gives every student a free breakfast and lunch. (SC member Kim Scott was Instrumental in getting this done!)

I supported leaving the High School Downtown (which is why I got elected in the first place)

After being Elected

WE not I WE as a School Committee were able to accomplish a lot…no 1 individual member can do anything without support. If you look at the 2 years we served, this school committee (approx) 87.5% of the time we voted between 7-0 /5-2 to support members motions or Supt. submissions. There was no CONSTANT 4-3 split except for dismissing the Supt.

I did bring in motions or discover issues that I addressed with my fellow members that I am proud of including:

Discovered the Supt. submitted a budget without School Committee approval, the first of many issues I had about the finances.

I contacted DESE knowing there was an audit of the Food Service account and shared my concern on the % being charged for InDirect cost leading the state to discover the School Administration OVERSPENT the account by over $2,000,000.00

Working with the LEJA I brought in a motion that was passed providing a recess policy for the entire school district.

Passed a motion to use Blizzard bags after the 2017/2018 School Year went until the end of June. The State has since rescinded the use of Blizzard Bags after this 2019/2020 School Year.

Questioned a budget that had a footnote on a $500,000 deficit, challenged the logic of closing elementary and middle school libraries while funding Adult Education and questioned the fairness of some 5th graders going to school 2.5 hours less a week than other 5th graders.

Supported Jeannine Durkin and Billy Jo Turner as they cleaned up a financial mess and put policy and procedures in place to prevent a repeat of that.

Supported terminating the former Supt, spelled out with clarity my reasons and stand behind that vote. Later to learn the lack of fiscal controls included an alleged $50,000 embezzlement!

Supported hiring a new young dynamic Supt. who has brought diversity to the central office for the first time in my 57 years. One who is working with every corner of this city to create a Strategic Plan for the School District

Supported the creation of The Renaissance Network: Supporting Chronically Under Performing Schools along with On Site-Based Budgeting And Fair Student Funding Program

We have put procedures and processes in place that will allow the current Supt. and his Administration to finish the year not only without deficit but being able to replenish many of the accounts that were run down and suffered under the past administration.

We have voted to not only support the Promise Act but voted to request a revision of the City’s Net School Spending Agreement, voted to request City join MSBA Accelerated Repair Program and advocated successfully to get repairs done in the city schools and to look at a return to the neighborhood school concept.

WE encouraged and welcomed more Parental and community involvement supporting Project Learn, The Citywide Parent Council and LEJA

One thing is very clear, We have an exceptional staff and the School Committee would be lost without the work done by Minerva Palazzo and Mary Sheehan. They are the ones who keep us on track preparing the agenda and minutes in addition to their daily duties.

The “new” team of Supt. Boyd, Latifah Phillips and Dr. Linus Guillory if given the resources and freedom will move this district forward. They need to slow the pace a little because change in Lowell is slower than swimming in molasses and people get nervous and defensive then attack those trying to make the change.

The work done on the finances by Billy Jo Turner continues to be phenomenal and Lowell is Lucky to have her.

Robin Desmond suffered through a very tough few years with us, she does an outstanding job, loves this city and system and is a tireless advocates for the students of Lowell. She could be a Supt. herself!

Jim Hall represented the SCHOOL COMMITTEE and SCHOOL Dept. NOT the SUPT. and did so exceptionally and will thrive in his new role.

Karen Laganas – Debbie Jarvis – Mary Lou Boucher – John Descoteaux- Nancy Humphrey – Jaclyn Kelleher-Roy – Sharon Lagasse – Mary Payne – Carolyn Rocheleau – Rick Underwood are a few of the many people who contribute to running this district that many don’t know but who care deeply about this districts and the students success.

We have so many outstanding teachers like Jen Cary, Trish Neary, Katie Mahoney, Cathy Durand, Paul McCarthy and many many more.

Great Principals like Bridget Dowling, Jim Cardaci, Matt Stahl, Sean Carabatsos and others. It has been a pleasure getting to know you and what you do.

Thank You all for you assistance, guidance and support and Thank You to the voters for the honor of serving, good luck to the incoming Mayor and School Committee.

Gerry

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