Thursday, April 11, 2019

Fair Share Testimony

My testimony at the public hearing before the Joint Committee on Revenue, in Gardner Auditorium at the State House on April 11, in support of S.16 and H.86 (Fair Share)

Honorable Co-Chairs and Members of the Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of the Fair Share Constitutional Amendment. I’m Mary Ann Stewart of Lexington, one of the ten original signers of the Citizen’s proposal of this initiative, before it was knocked out of the hands of voters last year.

Decisions made beginning 20 years ago eliminated ~$4billion from our state budget and we have never recovered. I support the Fair Share Amendment because we badly need revenue for education and transportation.

I’m a parent and I’ve been deeply involved in education from a number of local, statewide, and national perspectives, including:
  • School Site Council Member
  • Town Meeting Member
  • State President of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
  • National PTA Achievement Gap Working Group; and their Council of States
  • Northeast Area Director of the National Association of State Boards of Education Board of Directors
  • School Committee Chair and Member, and
  • current Member of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education; and the Board’s Budget Committee
Students need a well-rounded education; one that taps into their deeper learning and is based on a rich and varied curriculum that includes music, art, and athletics, and builds character, critical-thinking, courage, and more.
But, many of these programs were eliminated or severely eroded in many communities during the recession years.

To provide a sound future for our children and our Commonwealth, we must ensure that all children receive a high quality education, especially those who face the greatest challenges. We need a deeper investment in foundation funding for school districts, for early childhood education, for extended day & wrap-around services, and post-secondary education and vocational education.

Improving the quality of the education our children receive requires up-front investments for long term pay-offs to individual students, society, and to the workforce.

Determining how to raise revenue for these long term investments is a critical challenge.

One way that we can make those investments is by asking our highest income residents (who, as you know, currently pay less of their income in state and local taxes than the rest of us) to pay a little more on their income over $1 million. 
I urge an expeditious and favorable vote out of Committee for S.16/H.86, followed by scheduling a Constitutional Convention.

Thank you for your consideration.

Image credit: Portion of the actual thing ~ mas

Fair Share | Public Hearing

Note: this post has been edited to add the image above and credit at bottom. A few (regrettable) typos have also been amended ~ mas

Raise Up MA has been beating the drum for a 10:30 'be there by' for the 11 AM hearing and it has worked! Gardner Auditorium is quickly filling up. Joint Committee on Revenue staff are taking sign-ups for folks giving testimony.

11:15 AM Chair Rep. Mark Cusack has given the Call to Order.
Rep. Cusack announces that testimony will come from Legislative colleagues first
Rep. Jim O'Day and Sen. Jason Lewis with the first testimony
Sen Lewis says he is thrilled to be joined by so many colleagues
They introduce themselves

Sen Lewis: tremendous unmet needs for families and communities
Cites state education underfunding
We can accept the status quo or do something about it
Now citing our unfair tax system
S.16 and H.86 will raise the revenue we desperately need for our Commonwealth


Rep O'Day: Thanks the Committee for bringing a hearing so quickly
MA holds ourselves at an extremely high level regarding education
We are short most years on education; roads and bridges
Business communities love our education system; this legislation ensures that will continue for years to come
$20,000/week is what you earn at a million dollars a year
If you  earn above that, you should pay your fair share
We cannot continue to build a strong economy on the backs of those who struggle
Vote this bill out in an affirmative manner as soon as you can

Sen Brady (Joint Committee on Revenue Member -- JCR): Education is a big priority; our roads are in a deplorable condition; if this passes, funds not available until 2023. Kudos to our chairs for holding a public hearing on this proposal so soon in the session. We are in desperate need of revenue in our districts. We need to do better. Only affects those making over and above a million dollars


Sen Jo Comerford: Want to call attention to Sen Lewis calling our tax system 'upside down'. It is. We all know the ROI on smart investment. 14,000 wealthiest households bring in $2B. Doesn't cover the $4B lost 20 years ago that those millionaires benefit from, correct?

Sen Lewis: That's correct

I missed who asked the Q, and Rep O'Day is giving a history on the Citizen Initiative
Oh! Qs from Rep. Randy Hunt, who follows up: How do we know the funds will be dedicated to the intended purpose?

Rep O'Day: Doesn't believe this body would take us in an opposite direction

Rep Hunt: I agree. My point is, we can't guarantee going in another direction, unless an election replaces all of us...How is the $2B calculated?

Sen Lewis: We can't know precisely. It's a reasonable estimate based on tax returns and the number of taxpayers

Reminder that Sen Lewis and Rep O'Day are the lead sponsors on S.16 and H.86

Sen Hinds: Thank you to all who are here in the room and active on this issue; know many of you came from further parts of the state. There were legal challenges previously, potential here?

Sen Lewis: with a Fair Share Redux

Sen Jehlen: Inequity in our schools; challenges with public transportation. It's the will of the people and the legislature. We have a constitutional obligation and we are not meeting it. We were counting on this passing last year. It's ironic that the SJC did what they did. It will take 4 more years before this will make a difference

Exit legislators, to applause

Raise Up MA Panel:
Cindy Rowe (JALSA): Increasing transpo fares again; updating education budget formula need; RUM strongly supports FSA because it dedicates funding for education and transportation.

Peter Enrich (Professor at Northeastern Univ, specializing in state and local tax law; Former Director of ANF in Dukakis Administration): Will try to answer two questions. Why do we need a Constitutional Amendment? Short answer, our state constitution requires it. The second question: is this a proposal in proper form to forward to legislators? You know the history, and SJC said no.

Alex Hoyt (? Social Studies/History in Worcester and Hudson): Fair is the most just solution to underfunded schools. Cites constraints on doing his job well because of underfunding. Says legislators would be challenged under the same constraints

Applause; a caution from the Chair to refrain from, but seriously, that was powerful testimony from Alex!

Sabrina Davis (Coalition for Social Justice): We must invest in transportation, commuter rail, the T

Marie-Frances Rivera (MassBudget President): Think if we hadn't committed to forward-thinking investments (on edu, transpo). Glad to see education budget formula risen to priority on Beacon Hill. Cites MassBudget's report of last summer, HERE

Q: How many signatures collected?
Sabrina Davis: Exceeded all requirements
Q: Volunteers?
SD: Many volunteers
Q: Other state's experiences with similar measures
Enrich: Not a substantial out-migration due to increased taxes
Comerford: Payments on structures?
Rivera: MA is one of the most highly educated states; strong correlation between higher education and strong economy
Comerford: an indicator of strong ROI
Rivera: Yes
Hinds: Folks can be very creative how they file taxes. Provisions around shifting their income?
Enrich: Good Q. The reality, of course, is federal taxes remain far, far higher, even with the so-called federal tax reform.
Hunt: Federal tax planning would apply to any state. Tax planning when it comes to this type of constitutional amendment:
Enrich: MA taxable income is largely for federal taxes. Would people change? not likely. Would it lead people to change where they are taxed? Possibly.

High Tech Council (Chris Anderson and others)
Chris Anderson (President High Tech Council): Impacts of this proposal are actually borne out as *over-reaching*. (Cites Illinois, Connecticut, and a couple other states that I didn't catch. Basically, citing *out-migration* of some people in these states as a reason MA shouldn't pass Fair Share) 

Brad MacDougall (VP of Govt Affairs at AIM-- Associated Industries of MA): We're not afraid of tax convos. Instituting tax policy via constitution is a concern.

Chris Carlossi (?): Opposed, largely because of the impact on small biz

Q: How progressive taxes have failed, how many have been repealed or overturned?
Anderson: Several. Maine, Maryland were legislative decisions. We have anecdotal data.
Q: Is a small biz owner. Happy to pay business taxes bc employees help the biz achieve
Anderson: We're already a progressive tax state
VC Rep Schmid: Do any of your orgs have an idea of what they think we will raise?
Anderson: Says they cite decreased property values
Schmid: Represents Fall River and New Bedford. Schools suffer. I'm very interested in hearing of any forecasts or revised forecasts of what this proposal might raised
Anderson: Committed to these convos
Rep Hay: Communities your'e talking about -- do any of those states had increases in any of their budgets for education?
Response: We can do our best to find out
Comerford: Understanding S Corps -- all liabilities are substracted?
Carlossi: Yes
Comerford: On millionaire flights, three of the five states with the highest concentrations of millionaires have a millionaire tax...why worry about MA millionaires moving out of state?
Anderson: Data show numbers of millionaires going down
Comerford: Share concern about econ growth...if Millionaire Taxes are so bad, why is it that when I look at this, there is growth across the board in 8 states
Anderson: these are important questions; state fiscal stability probably are different in the examples I've shown (CT, IL)
Comerford: There are other factors that determine a state's health
Q: Clarification on flight and what it is based on; I think I heard it based on projections?
Anderson: Mine based on actual examples

Former Rep. Jay Kaufman, former Chair of JCR: Big fan of Fair Share Amendment; source of enormous regret this didn't pass on my watch; I have not the slightest doubt that our people will support FSA because they understand Adequacy and Fairness. Rep Hunt asked a Q about fungibility. (previously) We can and should legislatively establish a separate account as a guarantee of transparency

Raise Up MA Panel #2:
Melinda Marchetti (1199SEIU): Pay my fair share, time for wealthy to pay theirs

Phineas Baxendall (MassBudget): The proposed tax only falls on those over a million dollars; already gives a large tax benefit to those making the most;

Rev Andre Bennett (Zion Baptist Church in Lynn, and a couple of other orgs that I didn't catch!): Invites any other faith leaders to join them up front (several do); Speaking to the moral issue of a just tax system, instead of so many struggling families; education is a right, not a privilege

Cao Ling Zhu: Addressing in Mandarin; translator: speaking for more investment in transportation and great schools

No follow up Qs

Raise Up MA Panel #3:
Community Organizer in Chelsea: a woman of color; a mom to a college student; cannot provide our students with transportation;

Religious Leader: People in our Commonwealth are proud to contribute to an economy that works for everyone; employers need workers who are educated and can get to work on time;

Speaker is from the Small Business Alliance: Says small business often left out of policy-making process; reads letter written by Alliance members;

No follow up Qs

Raise Up Panel #4:
Ann Roderick (8th Grade Teacher): Unfair competition due to money; it's a system being bred in our schools; too many cuts in our schools leave students with significant lack of resources; inequality, competing for school choice spot bc their own cannot meet their needs...and takes district dollars with them;

Melissa Jones (Cape Cod Regional High School): Kids are hungry, abused, homeless; we fight for underserved because we care; not asking for extra funding -- asking for enough funding

(Teacher in Amherst Public Schools): cites perspective of a student with special needs in her school; large class sizes; poor air quality; we need systemic change

Rep Domb: Thank you for making the trip and speaking to this issue
Amherst T: Systemic change will help every child in the Commonwealth

No follow up Qs

(My own public testimony -- which I will post separately!)

Speaker is talking about the good of the Fair Share Amendment and trickle up economics

No Qs

Mark Callahan is President of Mass Building Trades, 75,000 members: sees deplorable conditions of infrastructure; state of our budget and of our Commonwealth depends on investment; everyone needs to pay their fair share

No Qs

Harvard Business School Panel:
Erica Eiderhoven (?) is a HBS student: says classmates will have a net worth of a million dollars within  10 years; morally reprehensible not to pass this amendment; failing and unreliable transpo system; we earned our fortunes because the rules are rigged to our benefit; 'every billionaire is a policy mistake'; tax the rich
Another student speaks to the rigged system; justice and fairness are necessary; we are subsidized by low-income households;

Rep Schmid: TY; you're obviously going to be successful and hope you stay in MA

Mass Taxpayers Foundation in opposition
Q Rep Domb: Clarify: the reason you cite for not doing this is why we were elected to determine the budget process, identify needs, we're not predetermining, we are in the moment
MTF: The Q is how and what will we make those priorities?
Rep D: With respect, the voters are telling us; I'm in the process right now; that's the job for us right now. to prioritize and direct, not have every piece in place. I agree we should be looking at other forms, so when we talk about corporate reforms I hope you'll come back
Q Rep Whipps: When you talk about 'we need a plan before we spend', many don't understand the rural school situation like where i live; need for funding mechanisms in place for local control
MTF: Needs in communities are different; concerned the money might not come in as people expect

No further testimony
Joint Committee on Revenue is adjourned
2:14 PM
Image credit: A fair day for the fair share public hearing ~ mas

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Sixth Session | 2019 Town Meeting

We're in Battin Hall, Cary Memorial Building
Call to Order comes right at 7:30 PM

A few announcements from Town Moderator (TMod)

Article 2: Report of the Planning Board
MOTION to receive the report and place on file PASSES on a VOICE VOTE (VV)
Ginna Johnson, Town Meeting Member in Precinct5 (TMM/P5) and Planning Board Member with an update on the Comprehensive Plan

Article 38: Amend Zoning Bylaw and Zoning Map, 186 Bedford Street (Owner Petition)
REVISED MOTION that this project be referred back to the Planning Board
Handout is HERE
Presentation is HERE
Planning Board's Report on Article 38 is HERE, placed on file by VV
Planning Board (PB): Supports referral back to PB
Select Board (SB): Unanimous support to refer back
Capital Expenditures Committee (CEC):
Appropriation Committee (AC):
Question Mic (Qmic) TMM/:P7 Please highlight the areas to be further refined
PB: Our report outlines what we are happy with and what we think is needed.
YESmic: TMM/P4 Cites 'Overlay Districts' under MGL Ch.40R; hopes Town will adopt before taking this up again, perhaps in the Fall
YESmic: TMM/P8
No further questions
VOTE on the REVISED MOTION is a simple majority:
YES: 160
NO: 2

Reconsideration of Article 28 (due to a technical correction): Confirm Street Acceptance and Title (Portion of Pelham Road)
James Malloy, Town Manager this correction address a concern raised by Town Counsel
SB Chair MOVES to remove 9 words in the original MOTION (removes 'on file in the office of the Town Clerk'
VOTE on Reconsidered Article 28 requires simple majority and PASSES on a VV

Debate continues on remaining parts of Article 16 (g,h,i,m,n,o,p): Appropriate for Municipal Capital Projects and Equipment
MOTION (all parts), HERE
Article 16g (removed from Consent Agenda): Sidewalk Improvements
SB: Unanimously supports
Appropriation Committee (AC): Unanimously supports
Capital Expenditures Committee (CEC): Unanimously supports
Question mic (Qmic): What color will the ramps be?
Town of Lexington (ToL): Concrete with the brick red panel
No further Qs requires 2/3 majority:
YES: 159
NO: 0

Article 16h: Hill Street New Sidewalk Project; presentation is HERE
SB: support
CEC: support
AC: support
Qmic: TMM/P8: What's the timeframe for completion?
ToL: On the golf course side by next construction season
YESmic: TMM/P8
Citizen's mic (Cmic): Resident urges support
Qmic: TMM/P8 What's the process for determine sidewalk?
ToL: The process begins with a submittal to the transpo safety group; is it buildable? From there, a survey to determine if Town owns land to put in a sidewalk
Qmic: TMM/P8: Seems we have a queue. We have a process. What prevents from building more sidewalk?
ToL: Financial aspect to do more than one in a year; also bandwidth for the Town and for the Public
YESmic: TMM/P5 
Qmic: TMM/P4 Cost is about $400/foot of asphalt, why so high?
ToL: With a 5-foot width; some unique and challenging aspects on Hill Street -- steep slopes that require retaining walls, sloping issues
No further Qs (2/3 majority):
YES: 164
NO: 0

Article 16i: Equipment Replacement (DPW); presentation is HERE
SB: support
AC: support
CEC: support
VOTE requires 2/3 majority:
YES: 164
NO: 0

Proposal to take three Articles together:
Article 16m: Municipal Technology Improvement Program
Article 16n: Application Implementation
Article 16o: Network Core Equipment Replacement
All three have support of SB and the financial committees (AC, CEC)
No Qs
VOTE requires simple majority for Article 16m,n,o:
YES: 165
NO: 0

Article 16p: Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations; presentation is HERE
SB and Finance Committees support
Qmic: TMM/P8 People charged or free service?
SB Member Hai: Users will pay for the cost of electricity as well as parking fee
YESmic: TMM/P2
Qmic: TMM/P3 What is the power that is going to be charging?
ToL: 240KW
Qmic: TMM/P3 Do you have plans to upgrade through Eversource? That's very slow charging rate
ToL: Current electrical output supports a Level 2 charger; depends where Eversource goes with this
Qmic: TMM/P3 Can they charge more rapidly with a higher charger?
SB Member Sandeen: Eversource's program is to charge Level 2 charges; Level 3 chargers are in special areas, like on the MassPike; can't be supported in Town Center
Qmic: TMM/P3 How will the metering be charged?
ToL: Charging stations have a charge point card or app and the Town can adjust the rates and get the appropriate amount of money over time
YESmic: TMM/P8
VOTING is a simple majority:
YES: 164
NO: 2

Article 20e: Appropriate for Lexington High School Field House Track Resurfacing
Presentation is HERE
SB: Unanimously supports
AC: Unanimously supports all items
CEC: Unanimously supports remaining parts
School Committee (SC): Unanimously supports
Qmic: TMM/P6 Q about safety
ToL: Tour of facility; researched time is now
Qmic: TMM/P6 is also an Assistant Coach for LHS Track. Is this just the track or Basketball?
ToL: Just the Track
VOTE on Article 20e requires simple majority
YES: 164
NO: 0

Article 20h: Appropriate Design Funds for a Feasibility Study to Improve the Cary Library Children's Room
Presentation for Article 20h, HERE
SB, AC, CEC are all in Unanimous Support
Qmic: TMM/P3 Support columns cost?
ToL: Don't want to comment on that yet until we understand the program
Qmic: TMM/P6 Estmated cost of $2.2M. What are likely outcomes based on what we know?
Koren Stembridge, Cary Library Director: Teen spaces was about $1.1M that didn't require structural changes. We'd like to scoop out the U-shape into more of a Square with improved sightlines. One of the busiest spaces. Want to have better flexibility and safety. Haven't invested since built/renovated in 2005
CEC: Call attention to the footnote to a capital campaign
Qmic: TMM/P6 Inadequate space. Where will that space come from?
Stembridge: We need to reallocate the space so that it is flexible (within the footprint)
YESmic: TMM/P8
YESmic: TMM/P2
Qmic: TMM/P8 Will the Memorial plaque remain in the Children's Room following rennovation?
Stembridge; Yes
No further Qs
VOTE on Article 20h requires simple majority
YES: 161
NO: 1

Reconsideration of Article 39: Amend Zoning Bylaw—Limited Site Plan Review (Citizen Article)
MOTION to reconsider requires 2/3 VOTE because notice wasn't offered within 30 minutes of the initial vote
SC: Unanimously supports
Qmic: Does the MM school fall under the purview of Town Land
ToL: it does not
YESmic: TMM/P4
Qmic: TMM/P8 Proponent did not realize the impact on LPS?
Proponent: Had not considered LPS would be impacted by the Article
YESmic: TMM/P6
Cmic: Thinks there's no harm in keeping the Article in place
YES: 137
NO: 19
MOTION to AMEND Article 39:
AMENDED MOTION adds language: [A New Part:] 6. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter the use of land or structures for educational purposed by the Lexington Public Schools on land owned or leased by the Town of Lexington or the Lexington Public Schools shall not be subject to site plan review pursuant to §9.5
Qmic: TMM/P3 Does the PB have the bandwidth to undertake this?
PB: Yes
YESmic: TMM/P8
Qmic: TMM/P1 asks about GC districts, building heights
Final comments
VOTE on Article 39 AMENDMENT requires simple majority
YES: 120
NO: 34

VOTE on AMENDED Article 39 to change the Zoning Bylaw requires 2/3 majority
YES: 139
NO: 12

Article 27: Appropriate for Authorized Capital Improvements
Presentation is HERE
SB: 5-0 support
CEC: 4-2 in support
AC: 6-2 in support
Tourism Committee: Unanimously in support
SB Member Lucente is RECUSING
MOTION to AMEND will be for an A Part and a B Part:
Insert "a)" before the current language of the MAIN MOTION under the article and furthermore Insert "b)" That the town make a supplemental appropriation of $117,100, and authorize an increase by said amount in the appropriation made under Article 10 of the 2018 annual Town meeting, for the Center Track and Field Reconstruction, so that the total appropriation authorized by Town Meeting for these purposes by $3,457,100, and to meet this supplemental appropriation that $58,550 be appropriated from the Recreation Enterprise Fund
SB: Opposed
CEC: Opposed
AC: Opposed
SC: Opposed
Cmic has a long line of students there to speak in support
YESmic: TMM/P1
NOmic: TMM/P7
Qmic: TMM/P9 Are there grass sites for track throwing events?
ToL: Yes, on natural grass at center complex
Cmic: Resident opposes amendment
NOmic: TMM/P5
Qmic: TMM/P1 Health risks on synthetic turf?
ToL: Peer reviewed scientific studies show no negative effects
Qmic: Lincoln ever tested for toxic materials?
ToL: Yes, all tests came back that materials are safe
Qmic: TMM/P1 How is synthetic turf recycled?
ToL: Not returned to landfills, recycled into other products
Cmic: Resident is a Student at LHS and is a hammer thrower on the Track Team. Needs a Hybrid field to play on. Same for Javelins. Synthetic turf is much hotter.
Final comments
VOTE on ARTICLE 27 to AMEND to add the "A" part and also the "B" parts to the MOTION requires simple majority:
YES: 38
NO: 104
Back to the original MOTION
There were Qs
No further Qs
FINAL VOTE on ARTICLE 27 requires 2/3 majority:
YES: 129
NO: 13

No further business from previous nights
2019 Town Meeting is DISSOLVED
Image credit: Town Meeting Members use an electronic voting device to record their votes on most Articles; other votes are taken by Voice Vote. View the record of their 2019 Town Meeting votes to date HERE ~ mas

MCIEA Conference

I was at UMass/Boston this morning for the MCIEA Conference (Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment); their website is HERE
Technical glitch with my laptop kept me from live-blogging the event, but I was able to do some tweeting (#newaccountability) and took notes, so, better late than never!

Today's Agenda (in bold, with program notes; my notes):

Networking and Poster Session: Enjoy breakfast while exploring posters that highlight MCIEA’s School Quality Measures and Quality Performance Assessments
Poster images currently in my instagram story (@mastewartma) and also as a featured highlight (MCIEA), along with a few other slides from today's presentations

Welcome: Arthur Mitchell, Senior Director of Programs, Center for Collaborative Education
Center for Collaborative Education website HERE
Arthur Mitchell with a warm welcome
Says, we're working on something transformative 
accountability has negative connotations for a lot of people
lots of interest in this new accountability -- not only for students in this region, but across the country
this is a movement
lots of people interested in what we're doing here
accountability to each other
want students to be able to demonstrate what they know and can do
want to transform performance
pencil and paper has a place
State Legislature supporting this [MCIEA] in the budget
Acknowledges presence of Legislators in the room: Rep. Tami Gouveia, Rep. Tim Hawkins, Sen. Pat Jehlen, and Sen. Jason Lewis -- Sen. Lewis will address in a little while
Introduces Dr. Ricardo Rosa for the Keynote

Keynote: Gettin’ Critical Wit It: Dr. Ricardo Rosa, Associate Professor, UMass Dartmouth 
Says, Schools, like any institutions, are like rubber bands -- change requires sustained pressure from below, or nothing will change
is drawn to this work because of the engaging communities
Says he is sometimes dismayed by "constant critique"
of those who only engage in endless critique w/o doing the work of imagining what's possible
gives a shoutout to districts, unions, educators, and students who are doing the work 
Reads from Bertolt Brecht's poem, Questions from a Worker Who Reads
Superintendents are not creating the schools
Corporate CEOs are not creating the schools
Schools are owned by the communities they are placed in
has witnessed the destruction schools [by] test-taking
watched the opt-out movement at a distance
the pressures of school leaders on immigrant students to pass the test after only one year in this country
Says he never really pushed back, but did have the impulse to push back after seeing the impact high-stakes testing had on his own child, ultimately
Then, he began to encourage opt-out
high scores on high-stakes tests do not show evidence that learning has occurred
would be interesting to look at mental health disorders in relation to high-stakes testing
says, the drill and kill approach to learning is concrete violence against people
school to prison pipeline, as if schools are the problem
it is really a cradle to prison pipeline and it's a problem of our social policies
is encouraged by those who are acting up on MCAS
About the racist question on MCAS: 'for me, that's only the surface'
sees high stakes testing, in and of itself, as racist
communities must be involved if there is to be transformative educational leadership
students are critical piece of the process of critically thinking about performance-based assessment
Dr. Rosa introduces Senator Jason Lewis

Keynote: Where Education in Massachusetts Stands Now: Senator Jason Lewis, Fifth Middlesex District of Massachusetts, Chair of the Joint Committee on Education
Begins talking of 'the importance of education' in MA, via Constitution; esp Chapter V, Section II 
Quotes Horace Mann, MA's (and the nation's) first Secretary of Education; it's the oft-quoted "Massachusetts mining..." passage (that I first read in a Globe article and is also what Sen. Lewis said at the start of the Joint Committee's public hearing on school finance bills that I attended, and what Tracy Novick reported on and provided a citation to):
"Having no other mines to work, Massachusetts has mined into the human intellect; and, from its limitless resources, she has won more sustaining and enduring prosperity and happiness than if she had been founded on a stratification of silver and gold, reaching deeper down than geology has yet penetrated" ~ Horace Mann, 1846
Says, while 2017 high achievement results are the envy of many, they obscure large achievement and opportunity gaps, esp for students of color, English learners, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged
These are failures to our constitutional and moral obligation to "cherish" education
global economic demands that we have skilled, thoughtful workers
Sees measuring student learning and school quality as a pressing issue
a top priority in the MA Legislature is to finally update and reform our school funding formula
adequate and equitable funding regardless of community wealth
FBRC convened back in 2014
in 2015 FBRC published its report that pointed to underfunding of our public schools by $1-2B, esp for those stus with greatest needs
MALeg is looking at all of the options
continues to listen to all stakeholders
fixing funding formula is high up, not the only, priority
other priorities include:
  • expand access to high quality childcare and early education to all families, esp;
  • costs of higher education;
  • students better prepared to succeed in college and career; 
  • improvements in K-12 system also how we measure student and school quality so all students can thrive and reach their full potential
sees the value of MCIEAs/o to his hometown of Winchester
thanks his colleague Sen. Pat Jehlen, instrumental in securing budget line item [for MCIEA] and launching the consortium
looks forward to working together with MCIEA

Introduction to MCIEA and The New Accountability:
Adeline Bee, President, Attleboro Education Association, MCIEA Governing Board Member
Dianne Kelly, Superintendent, Revere Public Schools, MCIEA Governing Board Member
Believe that standardized testing raised the bar, and also contributed to the gap
Different experiences require different assessment
acknowledges student experience, voice, and their own learning
Performance tasks support teachers and students
Student learning is not limited to ELA and Math, and sometimes science
Students need English, Maths, Arts, creativity, critical-thinking, compassion, enthusiasm, sense of wonder, lots more!
MCIEA process generates collaboration between teachers, not top down from the superintendent

Workshops: Choose from one of the following two workshops:
  • Building Quality Together: Jumping into the Assessment Design Process: Hear from teachers about Quality Performance Assessments, how they’re designed, and try it out for yourself with the Rapid Prototyping Protocol
  • More Than a Score: A Holistic Vision for Measuring and Improving School Quality: Explore how MCIEA is gathering data about what we value most in our schools via the School Quality Measures 
I chose Session #2
This session features Jack Schneider & James Noonan
different data can help to tell us different things
What Makes a "Good School"?
Schools are complex ecologies
describing schools in all of their complexity
a deliberate move away from one high-stakes test towards a more robust system of multiple measures of school quality
look on the MCIEA website for more about their framework
Outward facing: telling the full story of schools and districts
Inward-facing: helping schools and districts improve
better and more data is critical
too much weighting on one test leads to distortion
School quality measures (SQM) because multiple measures are important (i.e.): % of teachers teaching 5 years or more; counselors to student ratio; number of electives
Student surveys: 66 total questions total, grades 4-12; 44 Qs presented; translated into 9 languages
T surveys: 70 Qs to all teachers
all surveys are taken on line
SQM data dashboard is design to allow stakeholders to see the full measure of what makes schools work and how they can continue to improve
Setting high expectations for all students: Ts and L'ship; School Culture; Resources; Academic Learning; Community and Wellbeing
Collaboration for adults
What can SQM tell us about schools?
  • What is this school doing well?
  • How can you tell?
  • What can this school improve?
  • How can you tell?
Then, my table (and some others) looked at an accountability from DESE (to answer the above bulleted questions):

Other tables looked at SQM Data Excerpts for a MCIEA schools:


A Conversation with Students and Q&A: Students from MCIEA schools
Paul Tritter, Director of Professional Learning, Boston Teachers Union, MCIEA Governing Board Member [and moderator]
Judith Evans, Superintendent, Winchester Public Schools, MCIEA Governing Board Member
We were introduced to a teacher, 4 students, and Superintendent Evans; each introduced themselves, their role at the school, and a little something about themselves
Lindsay Gallagher, 5th grade teachers, Abraham Lincoln School in Revere
Cassandra, 5th grade at the Lincoln School
Jade, 5th grade at Lincoln School, draw paint
Omar, 8th grade, Susan B. Anthony Middle School, Revere
Dion, 8th grade, Susan B. Anthony Middle School, Revere
Judy Evans, Superintendent, Winchester Public Schools supt
(I apologize for not getting all of interesting things panelists are interested in! Likewise, for not seeing who said what among the students, at times)

Tritter: Can you tell us some examples of your Project Based Learning?
Omar: At Susan B. Anthony (SBA), students looked at 'anchor texts'. One of them was What sparks revolution? He chose Martin Luther King, Jr to better understand what he was learning at school. Reading was structured around 1-2 weeks to understand the essential question itself; students were given a rubric on different 'presentation styles'; he chose PowerPoint and spoke along with the slides.
Cassandra: We had a 'slime project'; had to figure out if it was solid, liquid, or gas; we determined it was a liquid bc it took the shape of the container that held it
Dion: We did research on the Grand Canyon: looked at plants, animals, and resources like food; had questions about what limits the population to grow or shrink? Considered coyotes, rabbits. it was fun. most of research was computers with a partner. researched for a week
Jade: We had a playground project -- build your dream playground; We had to determine "area and perimeter"; find the area and perimeter for each space in the playground that we wanted; we did it; it was really fun bc we got to use our brains and imagine anything, no limits! We had a zipline and a trampoline
Tritter: Sure, it was fun, but did you learn anything from it?
Jade: Sure! There were no limits to anything; if only rules, that's boring and some kids don't like rules. We could do whatever we wanted to do with the project
Tritter: what helped you to understand area and perimeter/
Jade: I learned more about area needed for putting in a zipline

Tritter: Ms. Gallagher -- talk about performance-based assessments
Gallagher: In the beginning, it was hard letting go; wanted to control. Now, make sure I have all of the materials they need for trial and error so I do more on the planning side of things, not on the control side of things. It's not me grading their paper at night; it's me looking at them while they're doing this to see what they know and what they still need to know
5th stu: In third grade we didn't really do much project-based learning, mostly tests. Things got funner bc you got to pick your partner most of the time
8th stu: my first experience with PBL was 1st grade and it wasn't a big standard and my teacher wasn't really pushing; churning butter, making cookies, carving pumpkins and counting pumpkin seeds; I can have fun and learn at the same time
5th: we're not sitting down doing tests all the time; there's a mix
Tritter: how are you making sure they are learning while they are having all this fun?
Gallagher: It's all about planning; planning came down to what do we need to know and do to plan for this? Stus have to defend their answer

Tritter: what is your experience of MCAS and performance assessment?
8th stu: I have never liked MCAS bc it never properly showed what I know. stus that have bad days and get so stressed do worse, which places them at a disadvantage
5th stu: MCAS is an important test and too many students get stressed out about it; need more hands-on tests. Hands-on let you be creative and have fun, it's more like an assignment

Tritter: In the state, all across MA and the country, are students really learning stuff they need to know? If I came to your school, what should I look for to know if students are learning at the school?
5th: look for how students 'look'; student participation; look at their learning
Omar: walk into a class and look to see if students are bored; see if they are looking at the T; raising their hand: asking Qs about the topic
Tritter: How do I actually know how stus are learning? How would I know?
Dion: I would like you to look directly at my science teacher; it's a crazy class; mats, bouncy balls, fairy lights; any kid will tell you they learn; her tests are formatted such that questions on rocks are followed by questions on reproduction; it's all important that we need

Tritter: MCIEA work, not just you and your classroom. What's involved?
Gallagher: Cross-school validation; cross collaboration; talking with other Ts to test ideas improves my planning
Tritter: turning it over to Supt Evans in Winchester...What comes to mind when thinking of the differences [between MCIEA/PBL and traditional/MCAS]?
Evans: Students are more reflective and thoughtful [with MCIEA]; there isn't only one 'right' answer. With [traditional/MCAS] 'smart equals fast', values compliance over taking risks. Students talk about 'test stress and anxiety'; [MCIEA]widens out perspective. Student choice and voice is the direction for schools

Q from audience: There's basic teaching. How to balance?
Gallagher: Balance is something I'm still working on. I'm math and science. Thinking through how we get there. Students learn in their own way and their own style. Vocabulary. Exploring and taking ownership of their own learning

Q from a Teacher of students in Special Education: Uses students with disabilities MCAS/ALT test
Evans: Waiver from state to more accurately asses students. Students talk repeatedly about working with other students, taps into unique strengths; SWD, ELs;

Q from a parent: How to join the consortium? What is the process?
Noonan: Briefly -- Agreement between district Union and Superintendent.

I had to leave at this point

Closing Remarks: Craig Consigli, Assistant Superintendent, Milford Public Schools, MCIEA Governing Board Member
Image credit: This question is at the heart of what drives two very different accountability systems in Massachusetts. MCIEA fact sheet HERE ~ mas

Monday, April 8, 2019

Beginning Week 3 | Town Meeting

Welcome to the third week of Town Meeting (TM). Town Moderator (TMod) envisions completion of the Warrant by Wednesday night. Of course, that is (somewhat) up to Town Meeting Members (TMMs) so we've been asked to hold Monday, April 22 in the event it's needed, following April public school vacation week.

Voting record of TMMs to date (March 25 & 27; April 1 & 3) is HERE

We start a little earlier tonight, at 7:15, in order to take time to 1) acknowledge awardee/s for the  Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award (a title that is different than in the past and I'm curious to understand differences) and 2) TMMs who have been in TM for 30-years.

Call to Order comes at 7:15 PM by Town Moderator Deborah Brown (TMod)
Welcome to guests.
Recess called for presentation of the Awards

LPS Superintendent Dr Julie Hackett presents Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards to 5 students and their teacher. Students directed Petitions signed and delivered to superintendent and other administrators to: Hire more staff and administrators of color; Look at curriculum dealing with electives in African American Literature and others.
(This award has always gone to an LPS educator or staff person; this is the first time students have been acknowledged, I believe!)

Presentation of 30-year Awards by Town Meeting Member Association to three TMMs: Robert Cohen (P4), Jeanne Krieger (P3), Alan Levine (P8). Jeanne Canale acknowledged with thanks for serving as TMMA Chair.

Back in session 7:29 PM
Attendance and announcements 

Article 2: Report of the Community Preservation Committee (CPC)
Received and placed on file by VOICE VOTE (VV)
Marilyn Fenollosa, TMM/P5 and Chair CPC

Meeting is now open on Article 14—Appropriate the FY2020 Community Preservation Committee Operating Budget and CPA Projects (parts c,l,m already acted upon within the Consent Agenda)
Presentation, HERE
VOTING on ITEMS 1,2,3,4 requires a simple majority:
YES: 157
NO: 0

Article 14a -- Conservation Land Acquisition (designated on map 32 as lots 114 and 135)
Presentation on 14a, HERE
Select Board (SB): Unanimously in support of all parts of this Article
Capital Expenditures Committee (CEC): Except for 14k, Unanimously in support of all other parts
Appropriation Committee (AC): Unanimously in support; on Article 14e:7-2 in support
Qmic: TMM/P4 The parcels -- Why spending money on something that can't be built upon?
Town of Lexington (ToL): It is the only way to get the other parcel
Qmic: TMM/P6: Question on wording of Article
Town Counsel: The choice of the CPC
SB is adding language to the MOTION, at the end: and further authorize the Board of Selectmen to take such land by purchase or eminent domain
No further questions or comments
VOTING on 14a requires 2/3 majority:
YES: 163
NO: 2

14b: Willard's Woods Site Improvements
Presentation on 14b, HERE
Commission on Disability: Supports 14b
No Qs
VOTING on 14b requires simple majority:
YES: 163
NO: 1

14d: Phase 3 of the Battle Green Master Plan
No further recommendations
Qmic: Railings for stairs to the Old belfry?
ToL: Looking at rails
No further Qs
VOTING on 14d requires simple majority:
YES: 163
NO: 1

14e: 9 Oakland Street—Renovation and Adaptive ReUse
Presentation on 14e, HERE
NOmic: TMM/P6
Qmic: TMM/P8 Criteria from SB or CPC?
Ms. Fenollosa: We only consider those who request funding; we don't go looking for projects. Support is twofold: preserves early manufacturing from history also benefits those with brain injuries
Qmic: TMM/P7 Who owns?
ToL: Non-profit org
No further Qs
VOTING on 14e requires simple majority:
YES: 147
NO: 12

14f: Motion that this item be Indefinitely Postponed (IP'd)

Taking up 14 g, h, i
Presentations are HERE
14g: Old Reservoir Bathhouse Renovation
Qmic: TMM/P8 How making decision to open to public?
ToL: We're discussing; do not anticipate any problems for all members of public to access
Qmic: TMM/P3 When is work to be done?
ToL: Completed summer 2020
Qmic: TMM/P3 So, bathhouse will be available in summer of 2020?
ToL: Bathhouse would be closed summer of 2020
Qmic: TMM/P4 7,000 people use each summer?
ToL: correct
Qmic: TMM/P4 Town Pool complex?
ToL: 65,000-70,000 each season at Town Pool Complex
Qmic: will oppose
Qmic: TMM/P1 How many parking spaces at the Old Rez?
ToL: Currently 3 parking near facility; many more at Bridge School
Qmic: Contemplate more parking spaces for young children and ADA compliance?
ToL: We're currently working on that
Qmic: TMM/P1 is conflicted on this one
YESmic: TMM/P9
Qmic: TMM/P2 Quality of water?
ToL: Old Rez water is tested weekly
YESmic: TMM/P1
YESmic: TMM/P9
Qmic: TMM/P1 Still supporting Summer programs (Teddy Bear Picnic)?
ToL: Program will be at Center Complex; possibly back at Old Rez in 2021
YESmic: TMM/P8
No further Qs
VOTING on 14g requires simple majority:
YES: 153
NO: 10

14h: Park Improvements—Hard Court Resurfacing
Presentation, HERE
VOTING on 14h simple majority:
YES: 170
NO: 0

14i: Park Improvements—Athletic Fields (Diamond Middle School)
presentation HERE
Qmic: TMM/P6 Plan to install natural turf?
ToL: Yes
Qmic: TMM/P9 Exposed manhole cover addressed?
ToL: Yes -- will look at it during the renovation
YESmic: School Committee is in Unanimous support
Qmic: Funds only for Diamond Middle School?
Ms. Fenollosa: Haven't typically listed specific park
Qmic: amend MOTION to indicate: at Diamond Middle School
No further Qs
VOTING ON 14i requires simple majority
YES: 169
NO: 0

14j: Playground Replacement Program—Bridge Elementary School
Presentation, HERE
YESmic: School Committee Unsnimously supports 14j
Qmic: TMM/P1Who installs?
ToL: State Bid Contracts
Qmic: Is there a third party to help install? Removal of parts?
ToL: Removal is part of installation;
No further Qs
VOTING on 14j requires simple majority:
YES: 167
NO: 0

14k: LexHAB Preservation, Rehabilitation, and Restoration of Affordable Housing
(Pat Goddard is back as Executuve Director of LexHAB)
CEC: 5-1 approval
Qmic: TMM/P3 Wants to know status on Busa Farm Affordable Housing
ToL: LexHAB has had to enter into the public bidding process; we're now looking at modular buildings to stay within the funding approved by TM
Qmic: TMM/P3 Wants updates to TM when there are issues
YESmic: TMM/P8
Qmic: TMM/P7 What projects does LexHAB prioritize?
ToL: we think finish Busa
Qmic: When will you finish Vine Street?
ToL: nothing on paper, yet
No further Qs
VOTING on 14k requires simple majority:
YES: 163
NO: 4

Article 2: Report of the ad hoc Crematory Study Committee
Report is received and placed on file by VV

MOTION to take up Article 20g CARRIES by VV
Article 20g: Appropriate for Westview Cemetery Facility Construction
Presentation for Article 20g, is HERE
SB: 4-1 in support
CEC: Unanimous support
AC: Unanimous support
Qmic: TMM/P5 What is correct appropriation?
ToL: Gone through a series of estimates: $2.6M with contingency $2,8M
Qmic: TMM/P5 How many non-groundskeepers, etc, work there?
Apologies for not capturing all that the speaker said. I did hear 4 FTE + 2 seasonal
Qmic: How many burials each year?
ToL: About 200/yr
Many TMMs lined up at Qmic; 2 TMMs at NOmic
YESmic: Permanent Building Committee
NOmic: TMM/P4
Qmic: TMM/P2 Please clarify increased costs?
ToL: Self funding covers about 97% of costs; debt financing covers bonding over 20 years
NOmic: TMM/P8
Qmic: TMM/P7 How many can fit in the hall (sitting and standing)?
ToL: about 20-25 people
YESmic: TMM/P7
Qmic: TMM/P1 What does the term "by addition ready" mean?
ToL: Original design, cemetery building; added bathrooms, meeting space; Committal; Grieving families
Qmic: TMMP1 So, "by addition ready" means walls, windows, reconstruction, correct?
ToL: Yes
QmicTMMP1 Do we know the space necessary for a crematory and is that space sufficient?
ToL: We have a pretty good sense
QmicTMMP1 Fully accessible?
ToL: Yes
NOmic: TMM/P8
YESmic: TMM/P3
Qmic: TMM/P2 Have we considered constructing a Columbarium?
ToL: We haven't looked at specifics; understanding is that a Columbarium is a separate structure
NOmic: TMM/P6
YESmic: TMM/P6
Qmic: TMM/P6 Minority of SB?
SB Member Joe Pato: Fundamentally, feel we are designing the wrong building; regional demand. Is it the right location for increased demand? We will know better with the recommendation of the Study Committee a little later in the year
Qmic: TMM/P6 Solar panels on this building?
ToL: Designed to be "solar ready". TBD once appropriation is received
TMM/P7 Calls the Question
Debate on Calling Q PASSES by VV
No further Qs or people standing at mics
VOTE on Article 20g requires 2/3 majority::
YES: 75
NO: 81

Article 6: Appropriate for Cremation Facility at Westview Cemetery
REVISED MOTION that this item be Indefinitely Postponed (IP'd)
Presentation, HERE
SB: Supports IP
CEC: Unanimously supports IP
AC: Supports IP
VOTE to IP Article 6 by VV

No further action to be taken tonight
Adjourned until 7:30 PM Wednesday, April 10
10:27 PM

Image credit: Warrant and various reports produced annually by Town of Lexington Boards, Officials, and Committees ~ mas

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Remaining Items for Town Meeting

Will this be the final week of Town Meeting? We shall see! We convene at 7:15 PM Monday, April 8 in Battin Hall of Cary Memorial Building (1605 Massachusetts Avenue). Here's what remains (not necessarily in this order; N.B. DATE CERTAIN items):
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award Ceremony
  • Town Meeting Member Association (TMMA) Presentation of 30-year Awards
  • DATE CERTAIN Monday, April 8: Article 14—Appropriate the FY2020 Community Preservation Committee Operating Budget and CPA Projects
  • DATE CERTAIN Monday, April 8: Article 20g—Appropriate for Westview Cemetery Facility Construction
  • DATE CERTAIN Monday, April 8: Article 6Appropriate for Cremation Facility at Westview Cemetery
  • Remaining parts of Article 16: Appropriate for Municipal Capital Projects and Equipment
    • Article 16g (removed from Consent Agenda): Sidewalk Improvements
    • Article 16h: Hill Street New Sidewalk Project
    • Article 16i: Equipment Replacement (DPW)
    • Article 16m: Municipal Technology Improvement Program
    • Article 16n: Application Implementation
    • Article 16o: Network Core Equipment Replacement
    • Article 16p: Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations
  • Article 20h: Appropriate Design Funds for a Feasibility Study to Improve the Cary Library Children's Room
  • Reconsideration of Article 28 (technical correction): Confirm Street Acceptance and Title (Portion of Pelham Road)
  • Article 21 (removed from Consent Agenda): Rescind Prior Borrowing Authorizations
  • DATE CERTAIN Wednesday, April 10: Article 38—Amend Zoning Bylaw and Zoning Map, 186 Bedford Street (Owner Petition)
  • Reconsideration of Article 39: Amend Zoning Bylaw—Limited Site Plan Review (Citizen Article)
  • Article 27: Appropriate for Authorized Capital Improvements
  • Any Unfinished Business from previous nights
  • Dissolution of 2019 Town Meeting
No meetings during the week Patriots' Day/school vacation week (April 15-19); Monday, April 22, as needed.

Image credit: Slide from Superintendent Dr. Julie Hackett's FY20 Budget presentation ~ mas

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Closing the Second Week | Town Meeting

7:32 PM Call to Order

Town Meeting Member Memorial—Carolyn Tiffany, affectionately known as Kay. Kay was a long-time TMM in Precinct 8 for more than 30 years. A retired Guidance Counselor, more than 20 years in Winchester. Organizer. Activist. Prescient on Climate Change. She died earlier this year. A moment of silence for Kay.

The Meeting is now open on Article 4: Reduce Community Preservation Act Surcharge Rate from 3% to 1% Pursuant to MGL Chapter 44B, §16 (Citizen Article)
MOTION that this item be Indefinitely Postponed (IP'd)
Bridger McGaw, maker of the Article, with a presentation, HERE
Select Board (SB): Unanimously supports IP
Capital Expenditures Committee (CEC)
Appropriation Committee: Does not take a position on items for IP
Community Preservation Committee (CEC): Unanimously supports IP
Planning Board (PB): Unanimously supports IP
TMM/P1: NOmic Will support IP; hopes this is the last we will see of this [trying to reduce the CPC rate]
There are no further questions or comments
Unanimously PASSES

Town Moderator to Deputy Moderator, Barry Orenstein (TMod to DMod)

The Meeting is now open on Article 15: Appropriate for Recreation Capital Projects
Lisah Rhodes, TMM/P4, and Chair of Recreation Committee with the presentation, HERE
Recreation Committee: Unanimously supports
School Committee (SC): Unaimously supports
AC: Unanimously supports
CEC: Unanimously supports the relevant parts
Q TMM/P2: Fees at Pine Meadows Golf Course?
Town of Lexington (ToL): Yes.
Given that there are user fees, why aren't they used?
ToL: They are, 100%
There are no further comments or questions
VOTE on Article 15: 
YES: 157
NO: 1

DMod back to TMod

SB requests TMod take up Article 27 on Wednesday, April 10
TMod indicates that's what we will do

Article 16: Appropriate for Municipal Capital Projects and Equipment
Revised MOTION is HERE
Parts 16a, 16d, 16j, 16k, 16l have already been acted upon
Taking up 16b, 16c, 16e, 16f, 16g, 16h, 16i, 16m, 16n, 16o, and 16p, ultimately
AC: unanimous on all but 16f--comments on that when it comes up
No questions or comments on 16b or 16c
No VOTE on 16b or 16c yet

On to 16e—presentation is HERE
Planning Board (PB): Unanimously supports 16e
CEC: Favors this MOTION
Citizen's Mic (CitMic): Chamber of Commerce supports
YESmic: TMM/P6
NOmic: TMM/P7
Qmic: TMM/P5: Can this section be broken out?
TMod: We will definitely vote this separately
CitMic: Resident and high school teacher is concerned there will be traffic backups in neighborhoods (citing Waze, Google)
NOmic: TMM/P9 Is concerned that before we vote on such a substantial sum of money, we should reconsider the $2M spending for brick sidewalks
YESmic: TMM/P3
Qmic: TMM/P3: Wants to support this. Is concerned about the ornamental lights. Are there shields from above? LED lights?
ToL: Fully shielded, yes to LEDs
Victoria Buckley, TMM/P9, Chair of Commission on Disability, with an Amendment. [To read: In the MOTION, after the word "construction", adding "as approved by the Commission on Disability"] 
Questions about the AMENDMENT
TMM with a Point of Personal Order: Is this appropriate?
TMod: We will hear from Town Counsel
Town Counsel: To the Q just asked: Yes, it is appropriate. Regarding the enforcability: "Approval" is somewhat problematic because SB has authority of streets and sidewalks, so it would be "Advisory"
SB: Requests a brief recess
We are recessed

Amendment offered by Ms. Buckley

9:00 PM We are back in Session
AMENDMENT to the AMENDMENT reflects the discussion that has just taken place during recess:

Amended Amendment

SB: Unanimously supports
CEC: 4-2 in favor of the Amendment
AC: 1-6 AC does not recommend
PB: no position
Center Committee: does not have a position on it because haven't convened on the AMendment
Qmic: TMM/P6: Is the SB voting to do what the Commission on Disability recommends?
SB: We accept the insertion of the language
NOmic: TMM/P7
Qmic: TMM/P3: What is the charge of the Commission on Disibility?
Town Counsel: Charge as per MGL Ch 40 §8j
TMM/P3 will oppose AMENDMENT and the ARTICLE
YESmic: TMM/P7
Qmic: TMM/P3: If we do not adopt and SB does it anyway. are we open to a law suit (due to bricks)
Town Counsel: I think the answer is NO
YESmic: TMM/P4
YESmic: TMM/P9
TMM/P1 Calls the Question
Debate on the Amendment is CLOSED
Final comments from Ms. Buckley
YES:  128
NO: 35
Debate continues on 16e with the MOTION as AMENDED
Center Committee: Unanimously supports
YESmic: TMM/P1
Qmic: TMM/P6 With regard to the road closure test: what was the impact of the lane loss?
ToL: Counts were set up in surrounding neighborhoods throughout the trial; we saw no impact.
TMM/P6: With a later school start time, how will that impact this project?
ToL: We haven't looked at the delayed start time
NOmic: TMM/P6
Qmic: TMM/P4 More information on the Mass Works Grant? Least/Most to expect?
TMgr: The range is specifically for municipal projects; they are substantial ~ $2M
Qmic: TMM/P4: Care and maintenance of new trees?
ToL: Plan is to give them the proper space and soil in which to grow, coupled with irrigation; after that, they will follow with our regular program
TMM/P4 Are there any provisions for extended drought?
ToL: They will have irrigation, plus supplemental waterings from the watering truck
NOmic: TMM/P3
Qmic: TMM/P4: Why is there no funding for improved signage?
ToL: There is signage within the plan, most of it is street signage
YESmic: TMM/P4
Qmic: TMM/P6 Funding sources. Given that we have small businesses in the center, public/private partnerships?
TMgr: At this point the Town hasn't done anything about looking into pub/priv p'ships
TMM/P6: Talked about planters. Will the curbed planters function as protection?
ToL: We think so
Qmic: TMM/P4 Any peer reviewed lit that compare the slipperyness of brick to concrete?
ToL: Unable to find any reports on the slipperyness of brick; there are different types of brick and concrete, but nothing
TMM/P4: Similarly on maintenance of brick or concrete?
ToL: The ad hoc Working Group asked for the same thing, but we couldn't find anything on this either
TMM/P6 asks what materials experts were heard by the ad hoc WG -- ToL runs through a list of experts from memory, acknowledges his list isn't complete
NOmic: TMM/P5
TMM/P6 Calls the Question
YES: 114
NO: 47
No final comments
MOTION to adopt 16e as AMENDED requires 2/3 Majority
YES: 121
NO: 21

On to 16f— presentation is HERE
Assistant Town Manager with brief Financing Plan presentation on the last four pages of presentation above: Enterprise Debt and MWRA Debt; borrowing term of 10 years, 4% interest rate. Three hypothetical scenarios; decisions made during rate-setting process in the fall.
SB: Unanimously supports 16f
CEC: 5-1 in support of 16f
AC: 6-3 in support of 16f
Qmic: TMM/P4 Wants to know if anyone has looked at the cost of ownership over time, as in costs of maintenance?
CEC: Yes
Town of Lex (ToL): Average maintenance ~$20K/year
TMM/P4: Spending $6Million works out to ~500/household. Over what amount of time to cover that cost?
ToL: Not a complete return on investment. Automated meters saves staff time, abatements, at ~$250K/year
Qmic: TMM/P6 Wants to know if people really need to put up antennae on their house
ToL: Not every house; there will only need to be a few and they will not go up on houses
TMM/P6: Confirm that no one will be asked to put an antennae on their house as part of this project
ToL: Yes.
Qmic: TMM/P2: How often can we get a report?
ToL: That's up to you
TMM/P2: Can we get it in real time?
ToL: Not in real time but the next day
What about on leaks?
ToL: Sensitive to 1/10th of a gallon,
A lot of questions from a TMM/P2 having to do with particulars of the network system, radio frequency, on which the system is built
TMM Calls the Question
Debate closed on 16f
VOTE on 16f requires 2/3 Majority:
YES: 121
NO: 21

Voting on Article 16b and 16c together, which had no questions or debate
VOTE requires 2/3 Majority:
YES: 149
NO: 0

MOTION to ADJOURN until Monday, April 8 at 7:15 PM PASSES on a VV
10:31 PM 

Image credit: Superintendent Dr. Julie Hackett presenting her first LPS Operating Budget and School Technology Budget requests Monday Night, April 1 ~ mas

Monday, April 1, 2019

Third Night | Town Meeting

We're in the usual place -- Battin Hall of Cary Memorial Building (1605 Mass Av)
James Malloy, Town Manager (TMgr) has forwarded changes to The Brown Book since printing; they may be found HERE
All Open Money Articles, Debt Schedule, HERE
Schedule of Articles anticipated tonight is HERE

Town Moderator (TMod) has gaveled the Call to Order.

MOTION presented by the School Committee to Reconsider Article 39. TMod states we will take up reconsideration next week.

Article 2 is now open; the Article remains open throughout TM, to receive reports from Officials, Boards, and Committee

Article 2: Report of the Appropriation Committee (AC)
The Report is received and placed on file
Glenn Parker with brief remarks about the AC Report

Article 2: Report of the Superintendent of the Minuteman Regional High School
The report is received and placed on file
Being presented by Kevin Mahoney, Assistant Superintendent - Finance
Presentation HERE 

Article 2: Report of the Lexington School Superintendent

The report is received and placed on file
Superintendent Dr. Julie Hackett's presentation is HERE

The Meeting is now open on Article 11: Appropriate FY2020 Operating Budget
TMod will go through each line and will take questions from Town Meeting Members. Vote will be taken at the end.
Select Board (SB): Unanimously supports
School Committee (SC): Unanimously supports
AC: Unanimously supports
Question/TMMP6: on Education, LPS and Minuteman. LPS Health insurance: is this a one-time increase?
TMgr: Brown Book has been updated, amount has been reduced; every year there are new employees who start working here, that number is based on our estimated number of new employees
TMM/P6: Can you report on the number of METCO students enrolled relative to the space
LPS: 215 METCO students in the system, looking at a potential 25 more students.
Q for MM School from TMM/P6: 1). Operating cost/pupil?
MM: $32,000
2). More students to drive down costs?
MM: Students decide if they wish to attend.
3). Facilities for swim team at LPS -- when will it be demolished?
MM: Building demo will begin August 1; running modest use of pool in July.
Q from TMM/P4: Rough outline of how allocations are made relative to split?
TMgr: 73% for schools, 26% for municipal
Time to Vote:
YES: 167
NO: 0
MOTION is UNANIMOUS, as it carries more than the 2/3 required
TMod turns gavel over to Deputy Moderator (DMod), Barry Orenstein

Article 19: Appropriate for School Capital Projects
Dr. Julie Hackett with the presentation
Presentation is HERE
SB: Unanimously supports
Capital Expenditures Committee (CEC): Unaimously supports (S/O for the 5-year plan)
AC: Unanimously supports
SC: Unanimously supports
Q from TMM/P6: Fully supports. How are we disposing of or recycling these after their useful life?
LPS: Using zero landfill; recycling
TMM/P6: Donating?
LPS: Yes!
Q from TMM/P8: Do we Bring Your Own Device at school? Many students have their own, have the schools considered this?
LPS: We have had this conversation; BYOD for seniors and juniors may opt out if they so choose. Goal is to create equitable systems for "ease of use" for teachers and students.
TMM/P8: Will BYOD be phased out?
LPS: That is the current thinking
Time to VOTE on the MOTION
YES: 161
NO: 1
MOTION CARRIES by more than the 2/3 required

Article 5: Establish Qualifications for Tax Deferrals


Vicki Blier (VB), TMM/P9 with a brief presentation
SB: Unanimously supports
AC: Unanimously supports
Q from TMM/P: Very much in favor. Do we have any idea of the percentage of people applying?
VB: It's difficult to know; we do know that 477 seniors qualified for the State Circuit Breaker
Q from TMM/P: What can the Town do to publicize?
VB: The actual tax bill did have something included with it to describe the program. Item included in newsletters, newspaper. Conversations at Community Center, other times, places.
Q from TMM/P3: What is the rationale for $75,000?
VB: We started at the State Limit of $40,000 and have been notching it up.
Q from TMM/P2: What is the interest rate?
Pat Costello: Approximately 1.96% currently; 2.55% in 2020
Q from TMM/P4: Do more people actually apply for the tax deferral?
VB: We've had steady increase
YESmic: TMM/P6
VOTE on the MOTION (simple majority):
YES: 164
NO: 0
Returning the gavel to TMod

Article 10: Post Employment Insurance Liability Fund
SB Chair Barry recuses herself

SB: Supports 4-0 (1 recusal)
AC: Unanimously supports
Q from TMM/P4: Where are we WRT meeting our full funding for Pension?
Town Of Lexington (ToL): On target to be fully funded by 2024
Q from TMM/P3: How are we doing compared to other towns?
ToL: Many other Towns have not funded its Pension, some are ahead of us, they are the minority
YES: 147
NO: 4

Article 12: FY20 Enterprise Funds Budgets
SB: Unanimously supports
AC: Unanimously supports
Seeing no questions
YES: 154
NO: 0

TMod passes gavel to DMod

Article 13: Departmental Revolving Funds
For occasional peer review of water management systems
SB: Unanimously supports
AC: Unanimously supports
Q from TMM/P7: Who can invoke the process? Is it mandatory once requested?
ToL: Not necessarily applies to every building application, but where the Building Commissioner recommends referral for peer review
TMM/P7: Are there no guidelines?
ToL: Because there are no standards, and the Building Commissioner is not a Civil Engineer, which is why we need a Civil Engineer
TMM/P7: Is there an appeal process? 
ToL: Not unless there is a Civil Engineer in the roles
TMMP7: Is there a waiver?
ToL: There is no waiver process
TMM/P7: Subjective, can't support
TMM/P1: By what authority is there for charging this fee?
Town Counsel: MGL, Ch. 53G accounts
TMM/P1: Does it cover imposing a fee for the town to hire?
Town Counsel: Yes
YESmic: TMM/P9
Q from TMM/P3: How many homes have been affected? Average amount?
ToL: Have had, last year, 71 homes torn down, not all required, but each one has had to be
looked at. 8 reviews per month maximum, 4 hours per review, $150/hour
No further Questions
YES: 149
NO: 4

DMod to TMod

Consent Agenda: (For Articles 14c, 14l, 14m, 16a, 16d, 16g, 16j, 16k, 16l, 18, 20a, 20b, 20c, 20d, 20f, 21, 23, 24,25,27)
SB: Asks to have Article 27 removed (it will not be taken up tonight)
Q from TMM/P3: For sidewalks not included in Center Streetscape?

ToL: Annual item, not part of Center Streetscape
TMM/P3: Same material?
ToL: Regular sidewalk repair, so in-kind repairs--if asphalt, asphalt; concrete, concrete
TMM/P6: Center Streetscape project is substantial cost, please separate 16g
TMM/P3: 16 j, k, l -- where is the work to be done?
ToL: They are done at existing signals throughout town. Off of Lowell Street is one area. Street improvements are townwide -- update website, mailings to abutters (15 miles each year). Map is put on the website each year
TMM/P3: Walnut Street on the list?
ToL: have to take a look to see if it is on the list this year
TMM/P3: I don't live there, but is one of the narrower roads, many potholes, was hoping, yes
Seeing no questions
VOTE on CONSENT AGENDA (Not on the items asked to be pulled out):
YES: 150
NO: 0

There is time permitting, TMod asks for a MOTION for TM to take up Articles scheduled for 
Wednesday, April 3; SB Chair Barry with the MOTION; TM approves:
Article 17: Appropriate for Water System ImprovementsMOTION is HERE
SB: Unanimously supports
AC: Unanimously supports
CEC: Unanimously supports
Apologies for missing the questions from TMM/P3!
Q from another TMM/P3: Given the discussion last year, can you tell us the inspection process that goes into the 100-lifeyear cycle of water mains?
ToL: Water system is under pressure, inspections are much more difficult to investigate.
Seeing no further Questions, VOTE on MOTION (requires 2/3 majority):
YES: 146
NO: 0

Article 22: Establish, Dissolve, and Appropriate to and from Specified Stabilization Funds
Requires 2/3 Majority
SB: Unanimously supports
CEC: on parts a and b--unanimously supports
AC: Unanimously supports
Seeing no questions
YES: 143
NO: 0

Article 26: Amend FY19 Operating, Enterprise, and CPA Budgets
AC: 5-0 in favor (just took their vote with the members remaining at the table)
SB: Unanimously supports
YES: 141
NO: 0

No further business tonight
We meet again Wednesday, April 3 at 7:30 PM
Until then—we are adjourned
10:11 PM

Image credit: James Malloy, Town Manager introduces Senior Management Staff to Town Meeting on Wednesday, March 27, 2019 ~ mas