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Sunday, July 31, 2011


The budget sheet for ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS has a couple of interesting if not downright peculiar lines. First we have 1 position budgeted as a $93,220 listed under ADMINISTRATION SALARY. Then we have a PROGRAM SPECIALIST AT $72,046 (don't worry that's from a grant, like manna from heaven). Can you say DUPLICATION in Spanish, French, Creole, or any of the numerous other languages spoken throughout LPS?

Okay, I hear the argument. The sheer volume of the variety of languages spoken is too much for one person to oversee. I mean they need a secretary to take their calls at $50,528. Then of course we need a TESTING SPECIALIST at $52,074 and 3 CHAIRPERSONS for a combined total of $195,288. That's a lot of money. Do we really need ALL those people? (They even have an ELL PAC for $300)

Now don't go beating up on me making me out to be a racist and that's why I am picking on this department. Listen here I have had 4 wives and no two have been the  same color. In high school I had two years of Spanish and a year of French. In college I had a year of German. (Though about all I can do is say hello in four languages. In Spanish though I can ask where the bathroom is) Even though I think I'm German on my Dad's side, I grew up in a mostly Italian town where I grew up with pasta sauce pulsing through my veins. My palate is fluent in many cuisines. Suffice it to say money is green in any language.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Tucked away quite nicely, we have on the Superintendent's page, a line item for a DIRECTOR OF GRANTS at $93,756. NICE. This person must not be as exciting as the STIMULUS PROJECT MANAGER at what was it a $101,000. Since these and many other administrator salaries come from GRANTS we need a cash flow conductor to insure that river of revenue doesn't stop. I mean how are these administrators going to eat? And they are good cause how else are we going to have so many high paying positions when our schools are failing.


Friday, July 29, 2011


The Daily Item: MIT program aims to get girls interested in science

Once again I would like to thank the ITEM for fleshing out my scoop. A part of me (okay only a small part of me) grugingly has to admit I had a somewhat unfair advantage since my daughter Asiah was part of the program, but a larger part of me, the poet turned part-time journalist says, "GET YOUR OWN SOURCES!".


We spend about $200,000 a year for a Director ($111,371) and for an Asst. Director ($89,800) of curriculum and instruction. Why do we need all that amount of supervision an direction? I mean what do principals do? How many students do these people have contact with? How many student yearbooks will they sign? I say split the responsibilities of the Director and Asst. Director among other people and put the $200,000 toward direct services. Oh I forgot, these position are funded by GRANTS and you can only spend it on certain things. I guess your job security is tied to some one's ability to keep the gravy train rolling.


Thursday, July 28, 2011


My daughter, Asiah, is attending "GE Girls at MIT" this week with I think 25 other 7th grade girls from the three middle schools around the city. Today they had a "cookout celebration", got some gifts and a nice picture. Asiah said she was asked to give an extemporaneous speech. Dr. Latham, who deserves a lot of credit for bringing this program together. Dr. Latham who was in attendance asked Asiah where I was. it's nice to be missed.


I just found out I got added to a new group on Facebook, "Fans of re-opening Ford Annex K - 8". Wow, watch out, because social media has changed the face of how we live. People feel empowered and want to participate in the decisions hat affect their lives. It is no longer "Politics as Usual". Well maybe it is cause didn't the late TIP O'NEIL say "All Politics Are Local"? Social media has just made everywhere local.

A Little Courtesy Can Go A Long Way

The Daily Item: Lynn police take aim at gang-related crime

This is nice but I don't feel safer yet. I question how effective this program or anyone costing who knows how much will be. This is not a policing or enforcement problem. It is an economic and moral one. Too many people with too little to do. The only way yo provide any kind of solution to this problem is through education. We've got to learn to be nice, to have respect of ourselves and our neighbors.

Textbooks and slide rules are expensive but common courtesy are free. I was walking downtown today, by the Blue Ox I think and I kind of stepped aside to let two policeman by. They were talking to each other about something. I don't know the particulars but there was no crisis and it definitely wasn't about official business. They never broke conversation. Not an "Excuse me", "Good afternoon", or even a "Hello".

An opportunity was lost. There was a chance for these officers to work on building a good rapport with their neighbors (my wife was with me) and it wouldn't have cost a thing. Now if these officers wouldn't take the time to exchange salutations with a poor, disabled poet, what do you think the chances are they would have greeted a tattooed teenager with his jeans sagging. Positive experiences now help prevent negative actions in the future. It's up to us to teach, we control what they can learn.


There has been a decrease of $1000 in memberships this year in a line item from last year, from $6000 to $5000. What club or organization does the SPED not belong to now? For that matter what do we belong to?
Do we have a clubhouse or a secret handshake? I don't care as long as we don't have to pay green fees.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


The Play it FOrward Giving Circle is honored to present the Dean of Harvard's Graduate School of Education on Wednesday, august 24 from 7:00-9:00.

Dean McCartney has focused her education work on early childhood and especially children living in poverty. We would be honored and delighted to collaborate with Lynn Public Schools and help kick off this academic year with some inspiration, collaboration and support for the Lynn Public Schools and surrounding area. We need a venue to offer this and a chance to work with you to help publicize the event. The hope is to have Dean McCartney speak for 45 minutes and take questions. We would like to have a dessert reception to give people a chance to meet her and each other. 

Kathleen McCartney is the Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development. Her research program concerns early experience and development, particularly with respect to child care, early childhood education, and poverty. She is a member of the NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, which published the results of their longitudinal study in numerous articles as well as in their book, Child Care and Child Development. McCartney also co-edited The Blackwell Handbook of Early Childhood Development. McCartney received her B.S. in psychology from Tufts University, where she now serves as a trustee, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Yale University. In 2009 she received the Distinguished Contribution Award from the Society for Research in Child Development. She is also a Fellow of the American Education Research Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Society.
Jan Plourde Cell Phone 978-808-3602


We are spending close to $9,000,000 a year on outside placements for SPED kids. Goodness knows I want them to not only have the services they need but also what the LAW REQUIRES. Still that's a lot of money, over 7 cents out of every dollar for a relatively small number of kids. What to do, what to do?

Well, you asked (okay I asked myself), I tell you what to do. Develop more programs in house, spend less money on the generals and fill the fox holes. Maybe get rid of some generals?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


No I'm not talking about a field trip to Franklin Park Zoo. Actually it's a little foundation I want to start. The "ADVANCEMENT of POETRY in EDUCATION" will promote students writing poetry as a method for a more creative communication. Like President Obama said when he "borrowed"  the phrase from Gov. Patrick, "Words Matter".`

I'd like to start off by offering awards to winners of poetry contests to elementary students.  These awards could be finance through the sale of "Lynn School Watch" like the one I wear to LSC meetings. My BFF has talked about wanting to buy some and so did this lady the other day in the Boston Public Library. I got the shirts when I ordered my business cards from Vistaprint so ordering more would be easy enough.

What do you think? I don't really want to make money off them, it would cost me too much. You see there is power in poverty.

I've got a picture, I  just got to get it up somehow. HELP!

HAVE A MEAL ON US (not me, but you know what I mean)

School may be out but lunch is in.Approximately 200 kids are dropping by Ford school daily for a free lunch. For more details and other locations go to the Lynn Public Schools web site. BON APETIT!


The Special Education Department must really strive to take the concerns of parents seriously, at least that's what the numbers say. Wait numbers can't talk so what does that mean? There is the word "parent" in two line items in this year's budget.

First there is a "LS Parent Coordinator" that comes straight out of the budget at $58, 181 a year. I must protest ignorance here because I have no idea what this person does but I'm just a poor, disabled poet.

Then we have a "Parent Liaison" at $52,031 annually. That money comes from some magical grant. LPS was so concerned about us parents that they kept the position vacant for around two years. Where did the budgeted money go? I don't know, they don't have a line item for that.

Monday, July 25, 2011


It's all in how you read it. Now this is a budget and us poets don't read this stuff none to well. I see the salary total for the Deputy Superintendent for FY 12 at $186, 127. Now that includes a clerical salary of $50,528. That is around the amount that they would have had to squeezed out of the budget if Dr. Latham would have got her wish last winter halfway through the year.

What areas would have been cut had that wish been granted? Maybe we would have just jammed some more students in some classrooms somewhere. Thankfully the DOC didn't get her way. Battle-lines were drawn. The position as approved. The MAYOR in a move reflecting her political wisdom suggested the job posting be sent back to committee for updating before posting. Once there forces were marshaled and a stalemate ensued. Sensing emotions were charged and they were, the mayor refused to vote, not wanting to get in the middle of what appeared to be a partisan battle, effectively killing the position.

By taking the high road, the mayor got to choose sides by not choosing sides. Have I said she is a smart lady? This move of political face saving saved LPS $200,000 this year and probably $100,00 last year. Just to remind you how the voting finally went down, voting for the addition of an extra Deputy Superintendent were PATTI CAPANO, JOHN FORD. AND VINNIE "GQ" SPIRITO and voting against posting the position were MARIA CARRASCO, RICK STARBARD, and DONNA COPPOLA.

By being politically coy, MAYOR KENNEDY saved LPS in the neighborhood of $300,000. Pretty nice neighborhood.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Wow, $104, 271 a year. That's what LPS pays for a STIMULUS PROJECT MANAGER. Don't worry, it's only grant money. At least it was last year and this year. You know line items don't tell everything, like what this person does or what job they had before they got this one. It must be an important job that's why the pay is so high and look what a good job they do. I mean we have twety someting LPS employees with salaries over 100K. So what if we have a failing district, our kids have time to learn and that stimulus money won't be there forever.


Saturday, July 23, 2011


Lynn Public Schools was well represented today at the Dominican Festival at the North Shore Navigators game at Fraser Field. LSC member MARIA CARRASCO, LSC chairperson MAYOR JUDY F. KENNEDY, and PAC parent liaison FRANCES MARTINEZ rocked the mike in the pre-game introduction of dignitaries. I couldn't have done that. I guess that makes her so much more qualified than me dealing with the concerns of special needs students.

I saw CLAY WALSH, councilor-at-large candidate at McDonald's before he game and was told by a mutual friend he was going to go over there but wanted to eat first because they didn't think there would be ANY FOOD there. Sounds like an insult to me. I never heard his name announced, Maybe nobody knew the Spanish translation for "CLAY". I don't know they could have used a similar word like DIRT.

Friday, July 22, 2011


BOY, DO I NEED HELP! I just can't understand how you can have a SCHOOL without a PRINCIPAL. No line item exists for such a position at LVTI,not even for a VICE-PRINCIPAL. Instead we have a line for DIRECTOR/ ASST. DIRECTOR'S at $309,371 for 3 positions. Wow, that's a lot of cash.

They have TEACHERS, both in all the core classes and trades. There are COUNSELORS, CLERICAL STAFF, and SPED TEACHERS. How come NO PRINCIPAL or VICE PRINCIPAL. Are we playing a name game just to get specific people in place?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Here are some numbers that make this poor, disabled poet's little head spin. We spend over $250,000 a year in salaries for attendance officers, yet nothing in dropout prevention (except for $30,000 in grant money). With our poor retention rates, it doesn't appear it's money (a lot of money) well spent. Possibly we would be better off just taking that money and buying everyone an alarm clock. It might be worth a shot.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I mentioned this o and n my THE HIGHLANDS WATCH blog yesterday but I don't think enough people saw it with school starting just around the corner it is appropriate to mention it here. The WALK light on the corner of CHESTNUT and ADAMS Street has been burned out for a long time. The safety of our kids walking demands that this light be fixed soon!


The Daily Item: Lynn teenager shot in back near park

"Idle Hands Do The Devil's Work". DONNA COPPOLA'S fears came true. She voiced concerns on mostly deaf ears earlier this spring about the DANGERS of not having enough for our young kids to do this summer.
 Granted it is not LPS's place to provide 24 hour/365 day protection for all its students. The money is just not there.


We have mostly empty school buildings that could be used as a house for programs or camps or other activities where minimum resources could be leveraged to provide something to do for a large number of kids. All it takes is leadership.


The line item for the Marine Corps JROTC line item was $86,000 for FY12. For that price we are getting national prestige and even in one class, a national champion, There is not much argument that it is money well spent. The self discipline learned by the students involved provides an invaluable foundation for growth. The pride felt by the whole student body, the faculty, the entire city of Lynn is priceless.


I have a couple of questions, 1) Since we have 4 high schools (don't forget Facteau-Leary), do we have equivalent programs in the other schools? 2) What is the Marine Corps contribution to the program?

There is another line in English's budget for $4500 for ROTC expenses while the line for athletic supplies is only $7300. I don't know the numbers but I would like to know the comparative ratio of the dollars spent per student.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


It seems to me that the whole purpose of school is to graduate. You Know, "Finish what you started" and "Clean Up Your Plate" (Sorry for the food analogy but I was hungry when I wrote this). That's why I can't understand why only $30,000 from a grant  is all I see listed in a line in the budget under "Dropout Prevention". LPS contributes $0 for the program.

Considering we have such miserable numbers all around throughout the district, one would think a little more attention would be paid to retention rates than just depending on the whims of federal grant money. I sat through a presentation last year about a credit recovery program authored by Sue Rowe and Dennis Thompson (I think) that seemed to have a lot of computer generated bells and whistles. It was nice but it only helped a small number of students.

I guess the strategy is if we keep our graduation rates and test scores low we'll get rescued by a big influx of money as a reward for our failures. I have to admit it worked for Harrington and Connery, at least until the money runs out.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Trimming costs. That should be right up my alley. We don't needs layers upon layers of administration. But EVEN a poor, disabled poet knows you can't always make a blanket statement. We've left the Head Of The Science Curriculum's position open since last year. I wouldn't swear to the exact "job title" but I'm a poet not a personnel manager.

Science is where it's at now. The jobs of tomorrow will created by the advancement of technology today. We need to be on top of the crest of science before we are swept away by the waves of the future.

"Politics Make Strange Bedfellows" - From The Highlands Watch

"Politics Make Strange Bedfellows"

Words become tired old cliches when they become overworked, overused. They become overused because no other word or combination of words better describe a particular situation. It looks as if HICO's former lawyer, Mari McKeon is in a partnership with Mark DeJoie, businessman, lawyer, social activist extraordinaire.

One of the many pies Mark has his finger in is KIPP. Now Mari spent hours in discussion with various members of HICO about ways of blocking KIPP's construction. A lawsuit was even filed by a HICO member in Superior court. Mind you, I believe it says on one of the pages on Ms . McKeon's website she teaches or has taught ETHICS.

 Other board members were surprised when HICO got a big bill in the tens of thousands of dollars from Ms. McKeon when originally they had only intended to hire her to file papers of incorporation as a 503c non-profit corporation. Then people got off track talking about KIPP's evil empire. Highlanders are passionate people who love to talk. Well I've learned with lawyers the meter is always running.

A huge bill was amassed that no one wanted to pay so Ms. McKeon being a lawyer, doing what lawyers do she sued all the board members of HICO. That included ME. Since nobody had any money a suggestion was made by a former HICO board member who went to work for Ms. McKeon that if a letter was written, the debt could be written off somehow on her taxes. What college does Ms. McKeon teach ETHICS at?

Oh yeah, the non-profit incorporation papers were never properly filed!

Anyway in the interest of full disclosure, Mark is a friend on Facebook and I am LinkedIn to Mari. What did you expect from me? I am on my 4th marriage.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why Can"t We Vote At FORD?

I received a response the other day to my part of a class action lawsuit against the city of Lynn for closing down the Ford School polling location in 2004 for reasons of non-compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). One would think that I should have been overjoyed to see the voting rights of the disabled treated with such respect and sensitivity. Or were they?

You would think the remaining locations would be violation free. My personal inspection of all eight remaining polling places found the opposite to be true. Every polling station had some violation. So does that mean we should close down every other place?

The spirit of ADA is not confrontational. As a community, we disabled have been oppressed too long and we have learned from great examples of past discrimination that real change does not come from the point of a sword but instead from the point of a pen especially when used in a ballot box.

So it infuriates me when the ADA legislation is perverted to be used as a justification for a possibly dubious task. This law is meant to be one of accommodation and participation, not one of retribution and retaliation. ADA is not just to protect the disabled minority, everyone at some time in their lives will have the opportunity to benefit from the realities of its enforcement.

Failures to enact this legislation because of solely financial reasons is unacceptable. The purpose of this legislation was to insure civil rights, equal rights. You can't put a price on that.


PAC was budgeted $700 last year. Rumblings of confusion permeate throughout all of the chatter I have heard on the issue. Here I come as the newly elected Treasurer trying to get some answers on just exactly where every nickel and dime was spent.

Then I look in the FY 12 budget and lo and behold and increase of $300 has been added to the line item to give a new amount of $1000 for next year, an approximate 40% increase. More numbers to make my little poet's head swim.


   This is a picture of a poster on the fence at FORD SCHOOL but it is not the only location of this great program. You can go to the Lynn Public Schools Website for other locations.