Preview: City Council agenda (July 19)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 6pm. The agenda is here.

This week: Pokémon Go, conservation, the Neighborhood Response Team. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Pokémon Go: Councilor Lukes has an item asking if we can use Pokémon Go “as a teaching tool regarding current public events and city historical monuments and buildings,” and also asking if there are “negative and dangerous aspects of the game and whether police oversight is required.”
  • Public and Private Streets: Carole Edwards et al request Hooper St. from Catharine St. to Mount Vernon St. be made public; Tony Bahnan requests the Council reconsider their decision to deny the request to make Luther Ave. public; the Council will officially make public Barrett Ave., Candlewood St., Hilma St., Navasota Ave., West Chester St., Wescott St., and Willow St.; the Planning Board recommends the Council make Bangor St. public, and revert part of Bergin Lane to be private.
  • Library Board: The Council will at long last be electing someone to fill the vacancy on the Library Board of Directors.
  • UMass Walking Paths: UMass Memorial Health Care would like to create walking paths at the Memorial and Hahneman campuses “some of which are actually city property.”
  • “To Keep the Constitutional Oath”: Rich Aucoin and Susan Serpa would like the Council to reiterate their intent to keep their oath to the Constitution.
  • Boards and Commissions: Njeri Gichohi will be appointed to the Elder Affairs Commission, and Michael Crompton to the Memorial Auditorium Board of Trustees.
  • Thoreau’s Seat: The Greater Worcester Land Trust (with help from the Paxton Conservation Commission) is buying 98 acres on Asnebumskit Hill in Paxton. The Council will vote to aquire a conservation restriction on 78 acres of Asnebumskit Hill to protect our drinking water and continue to build the belt of protected lands in and around the city.
  • Neighborhood Response Team: The Manager has a report on the 8-person Worcester Police Department Neighborhood Response Team. “…the overriding objective of the NRT is comprehensive and substantive problem resolution. Officers will identify problems in neighborhoods by seeking information and feedback from residents, business owners and Neighborhood Watch Groups. They will maximize their efforts by utilizing data from the departments Crime Analysis Unit to pinpoint patterns of crime in the city. The NRT has been in effect since June 26, 2016. Since its inception the NRT has focused on the lower Pleasant Street area between Oxford Street and Winslow Street and lower Main South to include Oread, King and Benefit Street neighborhoods. Officers have made 62 arrests for various quality of life issues including drug dealing, drug possession, drinking in public, trespassing and warrants.” (Another part of the report claims 20 arrests…)
  • Off-Highway Vehicle Task Force: For several weeks now the WPD has had some police focused on people driving off-road vehicles around our streets. According to a report this week, they’ve made 6 arrests, written 55 city ordinance violations, and confiscated 48 bikes and four wheelers, finding that most of the off-highway vehicles they’ve looked into are either unregistered or stolen.
  • LED Streetlights: The city will soon replace a bunch of streetlights with LED fixtures. If this goes well, we’ll replace them all. Payback time is 11 years. After that, the city expects they will save us about $1 million a year. They are planned to last 30 years.
  • Downtown Roller Rink?: The Parks and Rec Committee wants the Manager to report if we can make the Oval behind City Hall a roller rink for the fall.
  • Submission of Profane Material: Councilor King has an item asking that we revise the Council rules so that no “council member, municipal employee, and or member of the public at large” can submit anything to the Council “that is profane, contains slurs, or hate speech…there is no place for such material in the official record of the City of Worcester.”
  • Outsourcing the Parks: Councilor Lukes has an item asking for a pilot program to outsource “maintenance of a large city park.”
  • Six-Figure Capital Transfers:
    • $170,000.00 between Watershed Land Acquisition accounts.
    • $309,778.74 between Parks Capital Equipment accounts.
  • Six-Figure Grants and Donations:
    • $200,000.00 from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for Improvements to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
    • $156,937.00 from the Department of Justice.
    • Acceptance of the gift of murals from the Worcester Natural History Society d/b/a EcoTarium, and an order to accept a temporary easement for 321 Main Street.
    • U.S. Department of Labor’s Disability Employment Initiative VII Cooperative Agreements Grant for a maximum award of $2.5 million.
    • Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Grant in the amount of One Million Dollars And No Cents ($1,000,000.00).
  • Six-Figure Operational Transfers:
    • $953,326.00 for the Off-Street Program for the First Quarter of Fiscal Year 2017.
    • $6,636,036.36 from various General Fund, Enterprise/Special Revenue Accounts, and Capital accounts, and be appropriated to various General Fund, Enterprise/Special Revenue Accounts, and Capital accounts to make adjustments to City accounts to balance the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.
  • Six-Figure Loan Orders:
    • $9,316,000.00 to fund four building improvement projects of the Worcester Public Schools.



Preview: City Council agenda (June 21)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. This week: Airbnb, food trucks, eminent domain. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Airbnb: Last November, Councilor Rosen had an item raising concerns about Airbnb in the city. This week, he’s asking the Manager to present the Council with ordinances “to require those residential houses and buildings that are associated with Airbnb or similar companies and who offer short and long-term overnight lodging be permitted only in commercially-zoned areas and require such establishments obtain a business license from the city.” Personally, I am very pro-Airbnb, and I hope against hope that these ordinances will be well thought out and foster both nontraditional renting and quality of life in the city, rather than just hassling people with no upside.
  • Boards and Commissions: John Finlay and Elizabeth Proko have been reappoined to the Worcester Airport Advisory Committee; Edward Moynihan will be reappoined to the Community Development Advisory Committee; Robert Bilotta will be reappointed to the Commission on Disabilities.
  • Skate Park?: Bill Coleman has a citizen item asking about a previous request to establish a skateboard park and a Worcester Youth Commission.
  • Aquatic Events Regulation: Councilor Economou has an item asking the city to require any aquatic event in Worcester to be reviewed by the Fire Department and “and if need be a rescue dive team be assigned to such an event.” (Noting “this language would be similar to” language in both state and Lake Quinsig permits.)
  • Community Policing: Councilor Lukes has an item asking what changes are being made in our Community Policing Program and why.
  • Property Tax Appeals: Councilor Lukes has an item asking how many appeals have been filed in the past 2 years and how they’ve been decided.
  • Land Preservation: The Council will vote to amend the Greater Worcester Land Trust’s existing Donker Farm conservation restriction to include an additional 8.6 acres the GWLT is planning to buy out there. (This doesn’t involve city money.)
  • More Food Truck Zones: In recent years the Council has regulated many Worcester food trucks out of existence; lately they have experimented with “Food Truck Friendly Zones.” This week the city’s Chief Development Officer recommends two additional zones, one at Memorial Auditorium and one at the new Mercantile Plaza downtown.
  • Eminent Domain: In a report this week the city’s lawyer confirms that existing eminent domain laws allow the city to take and dispose of property for vague reasons like “the enhancement and economic well-being of a community” and so the city could use eminent domain to advance the Downtown Urban Revitilization Plan if need be.
  • Mt Carmel Church Historic District?: As part of the process of setting up a historic district to prevent the demolition of Mt Carmel Church (a demolition no longer planned), the Council asked the city’s lawyer for a report on this, a report which will be made to the Council this week, and which contains no surprising details.
  • Six-Figure Loan Orders:
    • $780,000.00 for capital equipment for the Sewer Department
    • $795,000.00 for Water Department Equipment
    • $550,000.00 for Capital Equipment Schools
    • $2,500,000.00 for various systems that are in need of improvements at the aging Water Filtration Plant
    • $300,000.00 for the acquisition and maintenance of water meters
    • $2,700,000.00 for rehabilitation of the Water Reservoirs
    • $400,000.00 for Newton Square improvements
    • $1,400,000.00 for Water Infrastructure
    • $12,025,000.00 for fixing parking garages and open-air lots
    • $200,000.00 for the development of a EAB & Forestry master Plan
    • $2,910,000.00 for the Blackstone Visitor’s Center
    • $2,000,000.00 for Blackstone Gateway Park
    • $6,000,000.00 for Water Mains & Gates
    • $1,000,000.00 for Water Transmission Mains
    • $100,000.00 for the Water Cross Connection Survey
    • $280,000.00 for improvements to traffic signals
    • $4,000,000.00 to fund rehabilitation at the Library
    • $300,000.00 to complete the construction of the Regional Emergency Communications Center
    • $200,000.00 for Water Building Rehab
    • $3,250,000.00 to fund school building rehabilitation
    • $100,000.00 for improvements to the Sewer building
    • $14,300,000.00 for Sewer Infrastructure
    • $550,000.00 for new street lights
    • $2,000,000.00 for rehabilitation and repair of dams
  • Seven-Figure Capital Transfers:
    • $1,680,000.00 from Building Rehab to RECC Center
    • $1,250,000.00 from one Sewer Reconstruction account to another
    • $1,500,000.00 from one Street Resurfacing account to another
    • $1,100,000.00 from Street Construction to Downtown Streets & Sidewalk Improvements
    • $4,078,385.00 from state funding to Street Resurfacing
  • Six-Figure Grants and Donations:
    • $400,000.00 from the FY17 Commonwealth of Massachusetts PARC Grant Program
    • $600,000.00 from the US Department of Education Performance Partnership Pilot (P3) Grant
    • $3,576,999 of state and private grant dollars for the FY17 program and operations of the Division of Public Health.

Preview: City Council agenda (June 7)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. This week: Economic development, finance items. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Quarterly Economic Development Report: Items include 4 new restaurants (Lock 50 in the Canal District, Deadhorse Hill on Main Street, British Beer Company on Shrewsbury Street, and Antonio’s Pizza by the Slice on Chandler Street); $18 million hockey rink scheduled to open in August of 2017 in the Canal District; foundations are being poured for a 237 unit market-rate residential apartment complex at Front & Foster—a garage and 133 more united to come; UMass Memorial Healthcare will soon bring 500 jobs downtown; the city plans to permanently close Southbridge Street in front of the Hanover Theater for a new plaza; the New England School of Acupuncture is moving downtown from Newton (120 employees, 200 students).
  • Private Street: George Kiritsy requests Holly Terrace be made a public street.
  • Marijuana: Billy Breault has an item asking the city to create a policy regarding medical marijuana use by employees while on the job and using city vehicles.
  • Fieldstone Farm Conservation Restriction: The city will be pitching in $100k to buy, along with the state, a conservation of 124 acres in Princeton that drain into our drinking water supply.
  • Library Board Attendance: The Library Board has a new policy to try to remove board members who miss 3 meetings in a row or 3 of any 5 meetings. The Council is in charge of the final decision to kick someone off the board.
  • 2017 Capital Improvement Plan: Huge amounts of finance items.
  • Six-Figure Capital Transfers: $473,276 from Fire Capital Equipment to Worcester Fire Department Capital Equipment; $240,000 from Sewer Infiltration Control and Sewer Infiltration/Inflow to Infiltration/Inflow; $300,000 from Sewer Reconstruction to Sewer Reconstruction; $100,000 from Water Land Acquisition to Watershed Land Acquisition to fund the Fieldstone Farm Conservation Restriction; $275,496.90 from DCU Special District to DCU Enhancement Project “for costs associated with the Corner Melt & Metal Detectors.”
  • Six-Figure Donations: $100,000 from UMASS Memorial Healthcare to support the City’s 2016 Recreation Worcester Program.
  • Six-Figure Operational Transfers: $1,435,000 transferred between various Community Development Block Grant accounts to pay for various CDBG projects; $700,000 from Contingency to Court Judgments “to provide funding for the settlement of legal cases through the end of the fiscal year”; $350,000 from Police Personal Services to Police Overtime.
  • Six-Figure Loan Orders: $780,000 to Sewer Equipment; $3,581,460 to Citywide Capital Equipment; $795,000 to Water Capital Equipment; $550,000 to Capital Equipment Schools; $2,500,000 to Filtration Plant Modification; $300,000 to Water Meters; $2,700,000 to Reservoir Rehabilitation; $5,000,000 to Street Construction; $2,150,000 to Sidewalk Improvements, to fund the continued improvements to citywide sidewalks.; $1,500,000 to Private Street Conversions; $400,000 to Newton Square Improvements; $100,000 to Citywide Street Improvements; $1,400,000 to Water Mains & Gates; $12,025,000 to Off Street Building Rehabilitation; $250,000 to Building Rehabilitation-Parks; $6,100,000 to Parks Improvement; $200,000 to Parks Tree Planting; rescind previous loan orders for Blackstone Visitor’s Center and replace with $2,000,000 to Blackstone Gateway Park; $1,400,000 to Account #91C7847, Parks Improvements, for costs associated with Parks improvements; $6,000,000 to Water Mains & Gates; $1,000,000 to Water Transmission Mains; $100,000 to Cross Connection Survey; $280,000 to Traffic Signal Improvements, to fund costs associated with the improvements to traffic signals; $4,000,000 to Library Master Plan Rehab; $974,850 to Citywide Building Rehabilitation; $300,000 to Regional Emergency Communications Center Building Rehabilitation; $200,000 to Water Building Rehab; $300,000 to Water Land Shed Acquisition; $3,250,000 to Building Rehabilitation Schools; $100,000 to Sewer Building Rehabilitation; $140,000 to Building Rehabilitation Parks; $14,300,000 to Sewer Construction; $550,000 to Street Lights; $2,000,000 to Dam Improvements.

Preview: City Council agenda (May 24)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. This week: Library board, SWIP, properties, little motorcycles. Pretty short. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Library Board: Someone will be elected to the vacant spot on the Library Board.
  • “Council In Session”: Bill Coleman has a citizen petition asking the city to install “a ‘Council In Session’ light outside of the Council Chamber that turns on for loud and exiting crowds.”
  • Boards and Commissions: George Cortes will be appointed to the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee.
  • SWIP: The city is selling 5.22 acres of the long-vacant South Worcester Industrial Park for $417,500 to locals who plan to build industrial and commercial buildings.
  • Saving Mt Carmel: The city’s lawyers have submitted draft laws that would extend the Council’s ability to delay demolitions from 12 months to 18 months. This was request in light of the possible demolition of Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church. The City Manager notes that the proposed laws wouldn’t be retroactive, and so wouldn’t affect the Mt Carmel situation.
  • Appointing Assistant City Clerks: Who’s in charge of this? According to a report, the laws are complex, but the Manager says he’ll hire whoever the Council appoints.
  • Code Violations: There’s a report on all code violations at properties the Worcester Redevelopment Authority would like to see redeveloped. Since basically the only thing people have been emailing me about is the fate of the Midtown Mall, here are the code violations there: operating multiple churches without a certificate of occupancy (this is resolved); possible basement mold (inspected, “no cause for formal enforcement”); possible fuel oil leak behind a wall (inspected, “no cause for formal enforcement”); complaint concerning water infiltration (inspected, “no cause for formal enforcement”).
  • Non-profits with Taxable Property: Some non-profits own property on which taxes are paid, non-profit status notwithstanding. There’s a list of them in a report this week. These include the Antiquarian Society, Preservation Worcester, the bishop, Worcester Academy, and some of the colleges. The report notes that possibly taxes are being paid because these properties are being used for non-educational/charitable purposes, though it could just be a mistake.
  • New Murals: The city is granting easements for 2 new murals, one near the Hanover Theater, one on Jackson Street in Main South.
  • Six-Figure Grants and Donations: The city will apply for 14 Massachusetts Division of Career Services grants totaling $3,035,328.00; a donation from the Worcester Redevelopment Authority for the Worcester Jobs Fund totalling $100,000.00; 3 state Highway Safety Division grants totalling $106,500.00; Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education‘s Connecting Activities and Career Pathways grants totalling $317,380.00.
  • Off-Road Vehicles: Are the people riding little non-street-legal vehicles around the city irritating you? This week the Council is considering an “emergency ordinance” to crack down on them. It would increase penalties for riding them where not allowed, and assign 2 police officer teams to focus on “aggressive enforcement” for the next 4-6 weeks. This would include monitoring social media to track down riders.
  • Racial Incidents: In response to an alleged racial incident involving a city employee, the city notes that it can’t release details of such investigations, because they are personnel matters, and those are confidential by law.

Preview: City Council agenda (May 17)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. This week: Towing, Mt Carmel, FiOS. Pretty short. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Racial Incidents: In response to an alleged racial incident involving a city employee, Gordon Davis has a citizen petition asking the City to, as a matter of policy, make public “investigations of racial incident[s] involving City employees.”
  • Street Sweeping, etc.: What is going on with the Department of Public Works these days? This winter we only had a few snows, but it seems like each one was a snow-plowing fiasco. And this week, Councilor Gaffney has an item asking about a bunch of cars in the Plantation Street area that were towed on May 9, even though street sweeping happened on May 10.
  • Low Interest Rates: Councilor Russell has a item asking how the current ridiculously low interest rates affect the city budget. Can we add more items to the capital budget “without changing repayment obligations”? And could this somehow benefit taxpayers?
  • Saving Mt Carmel: Councilor Lukes has an item asking if we can preserve Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church by making the area a historic district, and if the city’s ability to delay demolitions can be extended from 12 months to 18 months.
  • Homelessness Division: Currently, the city’s Homelessness Division is within the Department of Economic Development. Councilor Rivera asks it be moved to the Department of Public Health.
  • Better Internet Access: Verizon is bringing its high-speed FiOS network to Boston soon. The mayor asks if we can somehow get it in Worcester. (It hasn’t been possible in the past.)
  • Assistant City Clerk: Last week, Councilor Russell tabled an item from the new City Clerk about her proposed Assistant City Clerk, Stephen Andrew James Pottle. This item will be back on the agenda this week.

Preview: Worcester Education Meetings (Week of May 16)

Cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.

There is an Accountability meeting Tuesday at 5:30 pm. On that agenda: review of the PARCC and MCAS scores for 2015; the impact of Community Eligibility on things besides feeding kids; the report from DESE visiting Elm Park Community School in December of 2014; and the review of school improvement plans and end of year reflections from UPCS (end of year),  and from Worcester Tech (end of year) (plus what looks like a response from an earlier inquiry about Wake Up Math at Forest Grove).

There is a regular committee meeting on Thursday. In addition to (lots of) recognitions, the above meeting with report out, there are a few notifications by administration of appointments.

Miss Biancheria is requesting a clarification on parking at the administration building, would like the job description of the HR director, and is requesting a report on services provided to Deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

There is a donation from Lou Anne & John Branche in the amount of $5,000 for McGrath Elementary School. There’s also $500 each coming in from EOS as a recognition of universal breakfast (hurray!) at Belmont Street Community School School, Elm Park Community School, Goddard School of Science and Technology, Lincoln Street School, Francis J. McGrath Elementary School, Quinsigamond School, Rice Square School, Union Hill School, Vernon Hill School, Wawecus Road School, and Woodland Academy.

Ms. Colorio is requesting a report on excused and unexcused absences as used in accountability, and a report on staff development, parent involvement, and MCAS scores at Vernon Hill.

Mr. Monfredo is asking that students be informed about the Latino Dollars for Scholars dinner on May 21.

Miss McCullough is asking that students be informed about the dangers of the Space Monkey Challenge (yes, I had to Google it, too).

And there is an executive session scheduled on the ongoing (more than two months) negotiations with Ms. Binienda regarding the superintendent’s contract.

Preview: City Council agenda (April 26)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. This week: ATVs, JROTC, budget cuts. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • TIFs: There’s an Economic Development meeting at 5pm. Beforehand, there will be a Worcester Community-Labor Coalition rally outside City Hall calling for “local hiring requirements” and other conditions to be a part of any future special tax breaks (TIFs) on property development.
  • Boards and Commissions: Expected appointment of Shirley Konneh to the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee; Lindsey Silva to the Commission on Disabilities; Jose Ramos to the Worcester Housing Authority; Donna Connolly to the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women.
  • Elm Park Pond Water: Stephen Oliver has a citizen asking that “water in Elm Park Pond be drained and replenished with fresh water.”
  • Rydberg Terrace: Benjamin Parker has a citizen petition asking this become a public road.
  • ATVs: Billy Breault has a request that there be a new law allowing the city to seize ATVs and “dirt bikes” being driven illegally. Last week, a guy was arrested for riding an ATV around Crystal Park.
  • A Portrait of Mike O’Brien: Bill Coleman has a citizen petition asking that the Council invite former City Manager O’Brien to present a portrait of himself for display in City Hall.
  • Tobacco: The Public Health Subcommittee wants the full Council to vote in favor of slightly expanding the city’s tobacco regulation. The proposal would allow the city to yank tobacco permits from anyone who sells to underaged people. (This in addition to existing penalties.)
  • Citywide Crime Watch: Councilor Mero-Carlson would like a report on whether the police could reinstate semi-annual citywide Crime Watch meetings.
  • Manager’s Agenda: The whole “section 9” part of the Council agenda, the City Manager’s part, was late being posted this week, but now it’s up. I assume it was not posted so late as to require being postponed till the next meeting.
  • Boards and Commissions: Jacob Poplaski will be appointed to the Worcester Arts Council; Matthew Wally to the Parks and Recreation Commission; and Nghia Le to the Elder Affairs Commission.
  • JROTC: The Law Department is back with an opinion as to whether the Council can discuss expanding JROTC programs in the schools. The answer is: it’s under the School Committee’s control, but that doesn’t mean they can’t discuss it, and doesn’t mean the Manager can’t talk to the Superintendent about it.
  • Large Capital Transfers: $200,000.00 from Sewer Construction loan account to Infiltration/Inflow; $360,000.00 from Parks Building Rehab. loan account to Parks Building Rehab; $200,000.00 from Sewer Construction loan account to Sewer System/Stormwater; $171,000.00 from Union Station Garage to Parking Garages – Improvements, “to allow for payment of current and anticipated obligations associated with an upgrade of the fire alarm system at the Major Taylor Garage”.
  • Large Grants and Donations: Will file for a $292,000 grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs; $200,000 firefighting grant from FEMA; $500,000 Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Supplemental Grant from the EPA.
  • Lots of Budget Items: The Council meeting will recess to a Finance Committee meeting, which will discuss tax assessments, bond ratings, etc.
  • Budget Cuts?: The City Auditor has a report on possible budget cuts. If the city doesn’t increase property taxes (current proposal is to increase them 2.5%), there would be a $9 million deficit. The report notes this would mean cutting something like 150 city employees. Currently there are 1901 non-school employees. 281 are funded by non-property-tax sources; 219 are only partially funded by these taxes; the remaining 1401 are funded entirely by these taxes. The lowest staffing level in recent years was 1760 for the 2012 fiscal year.
  • Join the Library Board: Carolyn Noah has resigned her position on this board. Now’s the time to apply to be on this board.

Preview: Worcester Education Meetings (Week of April 25)

Cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.

It looks like a bumper crop of school-related meetings this week:

Monday morning at 7:30, there is a meeting of the negotiations (with the superintendent-elect) committee. As those are negotiations, I’d assume they’ll immediately vote to go into executive session. As we’re now at six weeks and counting since the vote to appoint, one wonders what the hold-up is on the contract.

Monday night at 5, there is a Joint Education (City Council) and Finance & Operations (School Committee) meeting. It appears that the discussion is budget.

Tuesday at noon (erg!) there is a Governance and Employees Issue meeting. There are a few issues on that agenda: cell phones is on there, though I assume there will not be student or staff comment, given the time of day. The item on a major overhaul of WPS policy (looooong overdue) is also on there.

Also on Tuesday at 5:30 is an Accountability meeting. That has the amount of testing on the agenda. Also, the “Arrested Futures” on student arrests is on the agenda, which certainly warrants attention, as well as the October 1 student count.

And the full committee meets Thursday. They’ll be opening with the annual school choice hearing (Remember this means school choice IN; school choice OUT is allowed, at the state level). There are a number of recognitions, both happening and requested, plus all of the above subcommittees reporting out. There is no report of the superintendent. Ms. Biancheria, interestingly, is asking that a grievance be reconsidered.

Bill Coleman, adding the School Committee to his rounds of public petitions, is asking that a portrait of the new superintendent be installed in every school. I will leave the historical and literary analogies to others, but they do leap to mind, don’t they?

Mr. O’Connell is asking that the School Committee consider the Rise Act (which has passed the Senate; I assume they’d be weighing in on House action).

Mr. O’Connell is also requesting the update of a couple of policies–administration of medication to students and student activity accounts–from recent MASC updates. He’s also asking that they update their substance abuse prevention policies (which MASC hasn’t updated yet, as the regulations from DESE haven’t been issued yet).

The audits are coming! (not attached; I’m assuming you should look for them to turn up in F&O)

Mr. Monfredo is asking that the School Committee go on record supporting the Fair Share amendment.

The School Committee is being asked to set the dates for their budget hearings: there’s no backup attached; my best guess is June 2 and 16 at 4 pm.

Mr. Foley is asking that the Committee invited Treasurer Goldberg to talk about the $eedMA program of saving for college.

And there are donations! $100 from Worcester Refugee Assistance Project to Greendale Head Start; $1000 from Worcester District Medical Society to support the CPR project; and $10,000 from Digital Credit Union and the DCU for Kids Charitable Foundation for scholarships for graduating seniors.

Finally (but coming first) there is an executive session scheduled to reconsider the grievance (as requested by Ms. Biancheria above) and to update the committee on the superintendent-elect negotiations.

Executive session is at 6; the school choice hearing at 6:45; the regular meeting at 7.

On blogging: I won’t be there for the full meeting Thursday; I plan to blog the joint meeting Monday night.

Worcester School Committee meeting preview (April 7)

Cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.

The Worcester School Committee meets Thursday, April 7. You can find the agenda here.

The report of the superintendent (and the big thing on the agenda) is setting budget priorities. It’s worth reading the backup for this (the PowerPoint you’ve already seen from the preliminary presentation in February). It lays out what you probably already know if you’ve been watching this: the increases in the budget ($4.6M) don’t come close to covering a level budget ($11M), never mind the increases the district actually needs ($11.7M at least!).

The meat of the message (from the memo) is here:

Given uncertainty as to student enrollment and demographics, the state’s foundation budget
inflation factor, adoption of the Foundation Budget Review Commission Report, fixed cost
increases, and additional contractual or compliance spending demands, it is likely that a
reallocation, reduction, and deferred spending on positions and non-salary items will be necessary
in order to have a balanced budget. This means that while some areas of the budget will see
increases, there will be other parts of the budget may also see a reduction of teachers, other
positions and non-salary spending.

So, pay attention. I’d further note that the time frame on all of this is going to be somewhat compressed due to the superintendent transition (just the fact that they’re setting priorities in April is late).

That’s the big one.

There are a few recognitions.

There’s a communication coming in from a citizen regarding the MOU between the schools and the police department.

There are several midyear resignations.

The School Committee is being asked to approve a prior year payment for $3,536 for McKinney-Vento transportation for homeless students.

There are several requests for recognitions.

It looks as though the School Committee got an email on the Goddard Scholars program, as there are not one, but two items regarding expanding it.

Mr. Monfredo wants administration to create an early learning committee to consider lobbying for full-day preschool funding, discussing a two year kindergarten program, and “gradually advancing 4 year olds yearly, based on readiness” (and I don’t know what that means).

The vet tech program at Worcester Tech is getting a grant of $347,882.

There are donations of $500 for the Worcester Tech robotics team; $100 for the CPR project; and $1000 for the CPR project.

There is a Rice Square/Lake View sharing best practices grant coming in for $6658.

There is an executive session before the meeting for negotiations with the incoming superintendent (no contract as yet); collective bargaining (no group specified); and two grievances.

The policy handbook is going off to subcommittee.

I do not plan to be there; here’s hoping the press coverage is good!

Preview: City Council agenda (March 22)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here. This week: Food trucks, mattress recycling. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Boards and Commissions: Expected appointment of Shirley Konneh to the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee; Lindsey Silva to the Commission on Disabilities; Jose Ramos to the Worcester Housing Authority; Donna Connolly to the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women.
  • Food Trucks: A few years back the Council adopted new regulations on food trucks that drove several of them out of the city. Now there’s a proposal before the Council to allow the City Manager to designate “food truck friendly zones” where it would be easier to operate food trucks.
  • Federal Grants: The Council will be approving a bunch of “funding recommendations” relating to HUD Community Development Block Grants, Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), HOME Investment Partnership Program, and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS.
  • Hazardous Waste Disposal Day: Worcester residents will have the opportunity to get rid of hazardous waste properly on Saturday, April 23, 2016. More info.
  • Street Sweeping: Street sweeping will start in April and continue through July. The schedule will be posted online and signs will be put up warning people when & where to not park. Keep your eyes open.
  • Open Meeting Law: Can City Councilors spontaneously sign on as co-sponsors to a Council Order during a meeting? The city’s Law Department says yes.
  • Six-Figure Finance “Transfer” Items: $132,990.40 from Capital Equipment Technical Services to Technical Services Capital Equipment; $1,912,250.38 from Building Rehabilitation City & Schools to Citywide/Schools Energy Improvements for energy-related projects; $250,000.00 from Park Improvements – Worcester Common to Worcester Common for work relating to the war memorials; $400,000.00 from Elm Park Improvements to Elm Park and $250,000.00 from Citywide Building Remodel to Elm Park for park improvements; $475,000.00 from Park Improvements – Hope Cemetery to Hope Cemetery for cemetary improvements; $100,000.00 from Water Meters Replacement to Capital Water Meters Program; $100,000.00 from Sewer Pumping Rehab to Sewer Pumping Station Capital Program; $100,000.00 from Water Pumping Stations to Water Pumping Rehab; $500,000.00 from Sewer Reconstruction to Sewer Reconstruction; $200,000.00 from Park Improvements – Shore Park to Shore Park.
  • Grant Applications: Green Communities grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs for $250,000.00; Commonwealth Corporation’s YouthWorks 2016 Summer Jobs for Youth Placed at Risk Program for $662,972.00; Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s Mattress Recycling Initiative grant for $174,000.00.
  • Union Negotiations: The Council will go into “executive session” “to discuss matters regarding collective bargaining.”
  • Planning Board Items: These will likely be sent to subcommittees—if you care about them, you should look up the relevant subcommittee meetings. Request to clean up zoning discrepancies at 128 Chandler St (near Piedmont); request to make part of Market St no longer a public street (this is off Major Taylor between Police Headquarters and the DCU Center, Google Maps doesn’t even label this street); request to modify the official map for a teeny piece of land off Summer St where a hotel is planned; request to modify the map for a small area off Sherman St; request to remove part of Pitt St as a public street.
  • American Legion Parcel Rezoning: The Council is expected to approve rezoning of part of the old American Legion property at 1023 Main Street, so the parking lot will no longer be “residential.”