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Chelmsford Schools Prepare For Sequester

The topic that has dominated discussion in Washington recently was also a part of the discussion at this week's Chelmsford School Committee meeting.

Regardless of what happens and has been happening in Washington, many school districts such as Chelmsford will feel the hit of the looming sequester.

However, Chelmsford Public School business manager Kathy McWilliams, says Chelmsford's schools are still planning on the status quo.

“We start with what our budget was in 2013, and what we’re allotted this year. The Town Manager (Paul Cohen) requested a level service budget and three percent increase, and that equals $1.4 million,” McWilliams said. “The money will be spent on the teachers and staff and then we have an operational cost of $600,000 that we have to mandate.”

The cost of Special Education for Chelmsford students also plays a big factor into any budget increase according to McWilliams.

“We’re trying to say we can live within our means all the time, close to a three percent increase, but it does appear difficult if I want to add programs, and I can never know the special needs tuitions all the time,” she said.

One of the other possible generators discussed was the option for more School Choice slots. Chelmsford Superintendent Dr. Frank Tiano said that for the past three years, the District would accept students from other communities for a fee. But with the projected increased enrollment, Tiano felt comfortable to make the recommendations for more open slots.

“It’s a great way to generate revenue and it helps out our student culture. We have looked at next school year’s enrollment projections, and based on enrollment, based on size, what we did at the time is we opened the first few slots were slated for (Chelmsford High School),” he said.

A recommendation by Tiano for fifteen additional school choice students to come to Chelmsford unanimously passed that evening. Some of Tiano’s suggestions included five open slots at the McCarthy School (Grades five-seven), seven slots at the Parker School grade six, seven or eight,  and three slots at CHS (Grade nine).

Jennifer Sneringer, a Lowell resident who works for the Lowell Public Schools spoke at the School Committee Meeting, and mentioned that while she was happy with the Lowell Schools as a whole, she felt that the Chelmsford Schools had what her Son, who is a sophomore, needed as far as music and theater were concerned.

“If he were a Division One athlete, then Lowell would be a great fit. My son is interested in music and theater and the arts programs in Chelmsford are fantastic. I would the opportunity for my son to be part of that program," said Sneringer. “My son is a wonderful student. He is not a discipline problem in any way. I just think that he would benefit from a school that offers more diverse programs in music and arts. I understand that we’re all in budget constraints, and there are tough decisions to be made.”

The proposed Fiscal Year '14 budget is available on the School Department website.

John March 01, 2013 at 07:18 PM
I work for a nearby town and I can assure you there is plenty of waste... If there is any excess before the year ends they hurry and spend it because they know they wont get any increases.. so spare me the poor me. The school is loaded with high paid administrators and staff and they always threaten the loss of teachers to scare everyone. Please dont be fooled.
Rob Carey March 01, 2013 at 07:36 PM
As for the school budget, how much dead weight do we have on the payroll? I do not know much of the school department in Chelmsford. I know most school districts around the country have dead weight, useless teachers that they can not fire because admins are afraid to go against a union and fire somebody. Does Chelmsford have any of these that the admin could grow a pair and just get rid of to offset any losses from the fed?
Rob Carey March 01, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Tyler, Do some research, the Tea Party is more closely affiliated with the Libertarians than hard core conservatives. And the Tea Party has been trying to get us out of the situation that both Republicans AND Democrats have put us in.
Rob Carey March 01, 2013 at 07:49 PM
I got the 3.8 number straight from the White House budget website. I think that you of all people would agree with what is on that website. Cut 1.2 trillion from PROPOSED spending and increases over the next 10 years. That does not count for actually cutting spending. He has spent close to or more than 1T a year (over Bush) since he got in office.
Rob Carey March 01, 2013 at 07:57 PM
Republican Recession? Pick up a history book. Watch more than MSNBC and read more than the Democratic Party talking points and you will see that the steps that led up to the recession were put in place by Carter way back in the 70's, stepped up by Clinton and warnings by Bush put down as nonsense by Democrats like your hero Barney Frank. Now I believe that BOTH parties are equally responsible for the recession not just one party. Now I do find one thing very interesting in the history of US recessions. All have started under a Democrat controlled congress. What does that tell you?
Tyler Jozefowicz March 01, 2013 at 09:11 PM
Rob C: do some homework on your own. ALL the Tea Party representatives in the US House are registered and elected REPUBLICANS. All members of the Republican Caucus, not the Libertarian Caucus. Quit lying.
Anna Bucciarelli March 01, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Ron Johnson ... You're correct, reaching out to local company for donations of not only funds but time is critical to non-profit agencies such as the one I volunteer for. Employees devote several days each year providing services in the form of repairs to group homes, painting, providing numerous and sundry services and the company provides all of the supplies needed and additionally usually makes financial contributions. Were this not the case the agency(ies) would never be able to manage the funds for the upkeep of the facilities they run. None of these activities/funds are to provide for salaries, just simple maintenance. Additionally, grants are a perpetual activity, no matter how small the sum offered, and outreach is constant. If, as Tyler said, the PBS has "grant writers who go after everything", that's a good thing for sure. (Note, I said "if".) Would these grant writers be salaried I wonder? And if so, why? Seems to me that such activity should be part of administrative job descriptions ... am I wrong in this? Correct me if I am.
Anna Bucciarelli March 01, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Excuse my error ... not the "PBS" but the CPS ... got NPR and GBH on my mind since they're primarily on my dials.
Tyler Jozefowicz March 01, 2013 at 11:09 PM
Rob C. : Bush II was left with a Clinton surplus and the best economic growth and economy in the history of the world, and dropped it to deficits and a recession in 2007. to go back to Carter is absolutely ridiculous, laughable. the biggest deficit maker of them all was Ronald Reagan (R) who quadrupled the national debt from 78BILLIOB to 4 trillion when reagan was done. recessions caused y democrats? remember the Great Depression with Herbert Hoover(R)? That one slip your mind?
Tyler Jozefowicz March 01, 2013 at 11:16 PM
John : we are talking about Chelmsford schools here. Chelmsford is not top heavy with unnecessary school staff. History lesson: Chelmsford around 1990-3, cut enormous amounts of school administrative staff and never hired them back since . There is no fat there, but the crazies keep throwing around the classic right wing banalities without any thought like you just did..
Vincent DiRico March 01, 2013 at 11:17 PM
Wow low info for sure! - Mr 0 is late again with his budget proposal - the sequester came out of Mr 0's admin and now they are after poor Bob Woodward for telling the TRUTH - the sequester percentage wise is ~ what each tax payer had to adjust to at the start of the year, even Mr 0 has backed off his prediction of Armageddon because low info voters did not cry loud enough to for a change - next crisis: continuing resolution to fund the gov and debt ceiling, I predict Mr 0's leadership will NOT improve - this was a good day smoke them apples!
Iron Mike March 01, 2013 at 11:23 PM
Eighty years ago THIS week, Hitler burned the Reichstag, accused the Communists of doing it, and rounded them up and had them killed. Any day now I'm expecting our US Capitol Building to burn....
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) March 02, 2013 at 12:15 AM
Looking forward to your World War I column, Iron Mike! (just gonna keep on bugging you about this, I think it'd get a lot of readers.)
Rob Carey March 02, 2013 at 01:24 AM
Tyler, Again I will recommend that a reading comprehension class will do you good. Where did I lie? All I said was that Tea Party is more closely aligned with the Libertarian party in their ideas. Lower Taxes, smaller government, less government involvement in our lives. The fact that they caucus with the republicans is irrelevant. Ed Markey caucuses and calls himself a Democrat yet he is a member of the Socialist Party Of America. And as to your other comment to me about the great depression and Hoover. You are correct, Hoover was pres but my comment was about who controlled Congress when every recession started and that is the Dems. As you stated earlier, it is Congress that controls the cash. If you want to be taken seriously and sit at the grown-ups table, Read the comments, understand the comments, think about the comments and then reply with something that makes sense.
Anna Bucciarelli March 02, 2013 at 02:58 AM
Again, me too! C'mon, I-Mike ..... divvy up with your memoirs and history lessons.
Rob Carey March 02, 2013 at 03:13 AM
Andrew, As a relatively new person who recently stumbled upon “The Patch” in my internet travels. I have to say as a local, I like the site and interaction between people in the comments section. Of course none of that would work without the good news coverage of local events. In my opinion the Independent website doesn’t cover the amount of local stories or the tie-ins to other communities that this site offers or the ease to make comments. I especially like the humor added when trying to add an exceptionally long post/reply with the “Easy there Tolstoy” comment if it exceeds the allowed limits. I know that you are not the person who designed the website or have much say in how it is designed, but I would like to recommend that you try and have them add the basic thumbs up/thumbs down that many other news sites have to their comments section. Having read many of the comments over the last month or two on the site I would be interested to see how many people agree or disagree with a particular point of view. Just my $.04 (inflation, its not worth $.02 anymore) Keep up the good work on the local news.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) March 02, 2013 at 05:40 AM
Thanks Rob! I have very little input over how the site is made, I can only produce (and help others produce) the content. But on that content, I think you've hit the core of my philosophy and Patch's philosophy. There are other places that have more resources to report on things like Afghanistan or the Red Sox or something a long way away. What we can do well is Chelmsford-specific things and things related to Chelmsford in some fairly direct way, so that's always going our primary focus, at least while I'm here. If there's something that doesn't seem like it doesn't have a direct Chelmsford tie-in, it's only because I'm down at Town Hall or the Java Room or Drum Hill or somewhere in town hearing a buzz about it. And while I was trained as a newspaper reporter, this isn't a newspaper, we're aiming for a conversation whenever possible in addition to the news, whether it's coming from me or any of you.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) March 02, 2013 at 05:50 AM
While we're waiting for Mike, I'm going to fill in for him and note that Sunday is the 95th anniversary of the Treaty of Brest-Livotsk. It makes you wonder what would have happened in World War I without the Russian Revolution, especially if the Germans didn't let Lenin back into Russia through their territory from Switzerland. Churchill called the Germans letting Lenin back into Russia comparable to spreading a "plague bacillus"
Anna Bucciarelli March 02, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Andrew ... perhaps you can write your own history blog, if allowed? Whoever comes up with one, I'll read it with gusto ... and don't end with WW1, you can start there but continue on through WW11, and on and on.
Anna Bucciarelli March 02, 2013 at 02:56 PM
By the way, Andrew, I completely concur with Rob C.'s comments. Like him, I just happened upon Patch accidentally and, as you know, am hooked and really enjoy the interaction, tho some of it can be rude and downright nasty at times. Keep up the good work ... remember to improve the housing post as recommended.
Iron Mike March 02, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Folks, I'll chat w/ Andrew off-line - and see if he has space for the quiz... Been VERY occupied with the signature drive in the last 3 weeks.... should have a little time next week.
Andrew Sylvia (Editor) March 02, 2013 at 04:28 PM
Thanks Anna, I agree, it can be a bit too rude at times. I do my best to keep things under control, but I can't get to everything. I'm sure the folks at HQ are working on some technical ways to help with that, but in the meantime, we can all brainstorm on ways to make sure they get the right to say what they want without creating a negative atmosphere for others. Just deleted three comments above (the "blogging in your basement/diaper" thread there) On the houses, remind me next Tuesday if I forget, we'll start adding bed/bath info on the three real estate articles. And on blogging, I definitely can do a blog on anything outside of issues relating to Chelmsford. The only reason I haven't is because I have around 20 non-serialized/ non-scheduled stories still pending that folks are waiting on me to do (held up by the stuff like the moderation here and other continual breaking stuff). I've tried to write them, but whenever I start I feel like I am letting those people down. Iron Mike, There's always room on the Patch for everybody as long as they follow the terms of use. The only caveat is the real estate on the front page, but again, we will all figure that out.
Tyler Jozefowicz March 02, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Hi Rob C: to answer your question. The libertarians are also closely related to the Democrats in may ways. No time here to elaborate. My point about the information was that all the tea party elected Congressmen , to my knowledge, are registered and elected Republicans, not Libertarians, and even if there is an errant libertarian party rep, they all nonetheless caucus with and vote with the Republicans in Congress. Brown , a lifelong registered Republican , tried the rap that he was 'independent" because the Republican label is dead in this state . Democrats have a clean sweep.
Mike Rigney March 02, 2013 at 08:11 PM
The point of this evaluation system is to drive a cycle of continuous improvement in our teaching staff. Different kids will always have different experiences with teachers but our aim is to build a body of educators that everyone agrees are at least proficient at their job of working with our kids. While it may sound a little Lake Wobegon-y, I think it's an important step away from keeping the rubber room people instead of talented newcomers. Even more important, it asks all of our teachers, not just the new ones, to thoughtfully reflect on their teaching methods and not be satisfied with doing things the way they always have. Thanks for bothering to read it all.
Mike Rigney March 02, 2013 at 08:13 PM
But rather than just throw our hands up and retreat to seniority alone, Massachusetts is developing a system of educator evaluation and Chelmsford has been an early adopter. Briefly, every one of our teachers is repeatedly observed in the classroom by one or more administrators over the course of the school year. Those observations are combined into a Summative Evaluation which classifies the teacher's praxis as "exemplary", "proficient", "needs improvement", or "unsatisfactory". Following an "exemplary" or "proficient" rating, each teacher is asked to write a plan setting their goals for the next year. If the rating is "needs improvement" or "unsatisfactory", the teacher's plan for growth must be written in collaboration with one of their evaluators. Such a directed plan resulting from an "unsatisfactory" rating may be for a time as short as 30 days. If at the end of the directed plan the performance is still rated "unsatisfactory" the teacher can be dismissed without regard for professional teaching status (aka "tenure") or seniority. Evaluations have been implemented for the first time this year and the Summative Ratings will be expanded next year to incorporate student feedback as well. Pursuant to 603 CMR 35.11, these evaluations "shall be considered personnel information within the meaning of M.G.L. c. 4, § 7(26)(c) and shall not be subject to disclosure under the public records law." That means the evaluation results won't be publicly released.
Mike Rigney March 02, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Hi Iron Mike, you're right that we are a ways off from forced layoffs, much less forced teacher layoffs. But I'd like to address your question about whether we have identified the 10 or 20 WORST teachers because it might be of interest and shed some light on how the Chelmsford school district is thinking about teaching quality. I've split my response into three parts to deal with Patch's character limit. The School Committee does not maintain a teacher performance list akin to seniority lists. nor does the district. One reason for that is nobody has a good idea of how to create such a ranking. Only 20% or so of our teachers have classes that take annual standardized assessments and even if all of them did, it's not entirely clear how you would deduce teaching effectiveness from students' subject knowledge alone. This is a long-standing debate without clear answers but if you or anyone else is interested, you might start with googling Value Added Models for Educators.
Oreo March 13, 2013 at 12:51 AM
Does anyone know how the Custodian lawsuit against the town and school committee is going? Another bright move by the school department...and no, I'm not a custodian!!!
Tyler Jozefowicz March 13, 2013 at 02:05 AM
Rob C: you are hilarious . Why not go back to Herbert Hoover according to your logic. The 3.8 Trillon. There are no major Obama spending initiatives. Obamacare is negligible and scheduled to take effect 2014. Care to name a few that are attributed to obama; you will be hard pressed. I detailed the Bush initiatives that continue . BTW , every year you can continue to add the revenue lost by the bush tax cuts of 2001/2003 that continue year after year. The did not go away when Obama was elected . We cut 1.3 trillion in Aug 2011, enacted 600B in revenue in Jan 2013, there is 2 trillion, so give it up and get real. Your sarcasm and condescending platitudes , e.g., " pick up a history book" ignorance ,don't add anything to the conversation either.
Tyler Jozefowicz March 13, 2013 at 02:11 AM
Rob C. : that's right , you don't know much about the " school department in Chelmsford" according to you. The article we are commenting on is The sequester affecting Chelmsford . Not trying to embarrass you, you can do that on your own, but that is the topic we are here for.
Rob Carey March 13, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Again Tyler, some reading comprehension classes are in order for you. Yes this article is on sequester and Chelmsford Schools preparing for it. My comment about trimming some dead weight from the payroll directly goes along with sequester and Chelmsford schools preparing for it. If they need to save money due to budget cuts, I would go after dead weight on the payroll first if there is any.

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