I will vote "no" on the override question because a yes vote continues the status quo while a no vote forces the district to consider alternative means to meet educational obligations, and THAT I believe is necessary for our students to thrive.
I consider it a colossal failure that we have lost Mary Weeks (music and fine arts), Dr. Peterson (math and physics), and many others of the stellar educators that made Melrose Public Schools famous for the quality of education it delivered.
I consider it a travesty that when a teacher has repeatedly made racist comments to students, she should be moved to another school (like a sex-abuse priest) and allowed to retire with full benefits. This is not only morally reprehensible, it has resulted in multiple OCR complaints with a finding of violation from the first already on the books.
I consider it completely unnecessary that legal counsel is hired to spend months fending off requests that the district apologize for perceived Open Meeting Law Violations or breaches of privacy laws. If a simple apology is all that is needed to appease the offended citizens, it is wasteful to spend thousands of dollars parsing legal words and definitions with the Attorney General.
I consider it an embarrassment that our superintendent (and the majority of the School Committee) feels it is professional behavior to swear in an Open Session of the School Committee when she doesn’t like what a member of the public says, and that she feels justified using legal counsel for her personal use at taxpayer expense. (Not even the School Committee members whom we elect to oversee the dispensation of our tax dollars can access these bills because of "Attorney/Client privilege"!)
If like the mayor and the majority of the School Committee, you feel the above situation is “exemplary” and that they are doing a wonderful job at district leadership, you will no doubt support the prop 2.5 override question on the ballot.
If like me, you consider this a colossal failure, giving more money to this band of incompetent individuals simply means that we will have a MORE EXPENSIVE colossal failure, and you will vote no.
Although the district has defined what the windfall of a yes vote will mean in the next year, these “improvements” do nothing to address the most critical problems that burden the district. Maybe the increased monies will help with these problems in the future (but they have not mentioned future plans for the money since the effort is to portray the override as a one-year vote and to ignore the fact that it redefines the base tax at a higher level for all future years).
Personally, I would like to hear the cost-free alternatives on how to improve the quality of education in Melrose from individuals such as Ms. Kourkoumelis and Gerry Mroz, and see those proposals discussed and vetted before I decide current funding is inadequate. Transparency in budgeting and expenditures would allow me to judge whether our dollars are spent wisely or wastefully and without that I cannot make an informed decision about a tax override. Lastly, I recall many instances where wasteful and inefficient government bodies have failed to deliver on their obligations. Further funding in every case has led to continued inefficiency and wastefulness. A denial of increased resources has resulted in creative solutions and elimination of much of the waste in order to improve the system at the same level. A no vote will require Melrose Schools to revamp their failed approach to education in the district and I firmly believe this will be a good thing for students and the citizens as a whole.
If I had any trust that the district leadership had the best interests of students in mind, the judgment to know what is good and what is not, the decency to treat each other and the citizens respectfully and listen to their concerns, and the ability to do something constructive and beneficial with my tax dollars, I would eagerly support an override. I do not have that trust and therefore it is the wrong time to enable them to continue this madness.
Sincerely, Martin Peters
Agree with everything you say, Martin Peters.
An additional point..... The safety of MPS students is not a priority with the SC, City Hall or the Administration. Schools should not be open on Election Day. They have been traditionally closed in order to protect student safety. The increase in traffic on the roads and the numbers of people who can access unlocked school buildings without showing an ID were the reasons to schedule professional development for the teachers and make student safety come first. The shenanigans of the "Yes" campaign is clear. Maybe more parents will vote for the Override, if picking up their kids. If the parents can't make an extra trip to vote, they don't deserve more money for this manipulative and despicable school system which repeatedly shows children are not at the top of Melrose's agenda.
I reject the premise of your post. The sad reality is that funds from the state are drying up. This is about maintaining our quality of life in Melrose. I am voting yes.
"The sad reality is that funds from the state are drying up. " Rubbish
"This is about maintaining our quality of life in Melrose. " Bigger rubbish
The actual truth is that the Melrose Public Schools have received $4 million more in the past two budget cycles than they had in previous years, even before all the bonds ($6 million plus for science labs, $5.3 million for MHS library, $420,000+ for textbooks,...) and BOA allocations (like the $1.5 million for technology, $50,000 + $100,000 Science Kits--unsure of exact amounts). No amount of new money will ever suffice for this self-serving and self-rewarding administration. "Investing" in this case is only about padding a self-created expediently defined "structural deficit" (translation: Administrative Slush Fund of $750,000+ for the superintendent and mayor to spend any way they choose). It's a myth that this override is about anything else.
This school system is unwilling to be honest about how it's spending our money--like, for example, how much they are burying in SPED line items to cover huge legal settlements for the administrative failures to abide by the law.
Sure, there are reductions in state aid, reductions that all communities are confronting, but not all communities lie and cheat the taxpayers when it comes to telling the truth or abiding by the laws. Not all communities are willing to commit what amounts to fraud in order to get their stubborn point across or extract more tax dollars from citizens.
This has nothing whatsoever to do with maintaining a "quality of life in Melrose." Quite the contrary. It has everything to do with an unethical political Machine mowing over the laws and basic decency in order to achieve its political goals.
"Martin up" is either the primary Machinist himself (the one who persists in perpetrating the fraud about "the loss of federal ARRA funds," too) or one of those who has guzzled the koolaid.
Doesn't make sense.
No matter how much you hate the people in charge or how incompetent you think they are, reducing their available money won't help matters. We are already in a situation where all the fat has been trimmed (elementary school librarians gone, class sizes at upper limit, basic educational materials are being funded by parent donations through the PTOs). So no matter how much you disagree with budgeting priorities, it's not like anybody could do much in the way of frivolous spending even if they wanted to.
Why punish the general population just because you don't like the current school committee?
Funny, a woman came by my house this weekend to try to convince me to vote no. She handed me her pamphlet and I then gave her my reasons for voting yes and she immediately became hostile.She made a few terse comments and turned around and left in a huff. I looked at her pamphlet which included the phrase "Say no to divisiveness" and I had to laugh out loud. As far as I can see, all of the divisiveness and toxicity is coming from the "No" camp, with their ominous black signs to boot!
Voting YES here.
"Funny because my experience has been that yes crowd is that way if you are NO vote. I know many NO people that feel like they have gotten their heads bitten off by the Yes crowd.
Well I'm Voting NO & proud of it. City should just live within budget just like the rest of us."
Voting NO and have learned valuable lessons about who NOT to trust in this city.
To "Why punish yourself":
"Why punish the general population just because you don't like the current school committee?"
This has nothing to do with "hate" or rather, at least it doesn't from my perspective, since that is a four-letter word that actually means something to a lot of us.
This also has nothing to do with "punishing" anyone. This is about a campaign for an override that is simply not credible and for which there is not a shred of evidence linking it to a better result for the school system. If this were a credible campaign put forward honestly with fully transparent evidence, then it would be worthy of consideration.
How anyone with half a brain and a conscience, let alone all those with college degrees and who still read, could think that an administration found guilty of violating civil rights, that has chronic problems in being truthful, that has produced some of the worst student outcomes in memory (including taking Melrose down to a Level 3 district) is beyond comprehension.
P.S.: Lots of us planning to Vote No are not willing to put signs in our yards because of the culture of bullying that now characterizes this hate-mongering administration. Also, we are more thrifty and won't waste valuable dollars on uncredible campaigns or flocks of plastic flamingos, no matter how much we might be shunned by the Yes crowd. (Shame on them! and thanks to Martin Peters for a good summation!)
I have seen unmarked black sedans driven by men in black suits with black ties parked in front of houses with "Vote No" signs. I think they are writing down the addresses...for what nefarious purpose I do not know. I quickly switched my "no" sign with a "yes" sign across the street. I don't like the b*tch who lives there anyway. Maybe they will shut off her water.
Agreed. Why should we pay $20 a month just for a dozen teachers and a couple police officers? What is this, socialism? Shouldn't kids be able to educate themselves by now? Why do we need schools anyway?
"No matter how much you hate the people in charge or how incompetent you think they are, reducing their available money won't help matters. We are already in a situation where all the fat has been trimmed (elementary school librarians gone, class sizes at upper limit, basic educational materials are being funded by parent donations through the PTOs). So no matter how much you disagree with budgeting priorities, it's not like anybody could do much in the way of frivolous spending even if they wanted to."
I doubt hate is a relevant criterion for any vote. Incompetence? not so much. If you feel the money is being wasted, it is foolish to think more will fix the problem-it simply prolongs the wastefulness by enabling the incompetent people. From all the information I have, there is ample "fat to trim" from the existing expenditures (and I mentioned a few in my initial post), so there is indeed a lot that can be done about it. Furthermore, the claims by others that less-expensive alternative approaches (that are summarily dismissed without allowing any discussion) open another avenue to make the current millions go further. As JD LaRock recently pointed out, other districts of similar demographic are achieving far better student outcomes with the same or less money.
In regards to the disrespectful lobbying, mentioned by other replies, I too have felt bullied by the "yes" people (and not yet by the no campaign) but I don't pay much attention to such groups since I feel this should be a vote of individual conscience.
The question as I see it is about whether you feel the job done by administration (city and school) is "exemplary" as they would have you believe, or whether you feel they are failing the citizens. If the former, vote "yes" since you expect your tax dollars will be well-spent and those you trust have said they needed them. If you feel as I do, that your current tax dollars are being squandered for a vision that is failing to meet the obligations of our city, then a yes vote just makes it a more expensive failure and a no vote is the only thing that might induce them to reconsider their strategy.
As I have seen the demise of much that I thought was wonderful about Melrose Schools and in particular the attrition of the unparalleled educators who made the district great, my confidence in the leadership has dwindled. The recent refusal to allow a public official (elected for the purpose of overseeing the distribution of taxpayer dollars in the School District) from being allowed to view the communications with attorneys on a school matter, has convinced me that the leadership is neither trustworthy nor transparent enough for us to believe anything they tell us. I am not referring to Ms. Kourkoumelis' public records request that resulted from that refusal, but rather to the prior refusal to allow her, a public official sworn to maintain confidentiality and privacy of individuals that may be named, to view district documents. If as Ms. Taymore claims, she (and not the district) is the client, then we have to wonder why she is using tax dollars for her own personal legal advice with no oversight from those we elect to oversee these monies. Without transparency, the city hasn't a leg to stand on when I or anyone says we feel they may be squandering thousands of taxpayer dollars through mismanagement, back-room deals, and inappropriate use of public funds such as legal counsel paid for by the public and where the district led by the school committee is NOT the client. Until there is transparency and those whom we elect to oversee the dispensation of our tax dollars are allowed access, we just don't know.
Yes, Yes & Yes Mr. Martin Peters! Thank you for your eloquent posts. YOU see what's going on in our city.
Paranoia is Real made me Laugh for Real.
My experience has been that the yes people are not open to considering any new information. They have their demands and that's it. No ability or desire to analyze.
The no side seems more open to looking at and processing facts, claims & assertions.
That's one of my biggest concerns if the override passes. Stubborn clinging to fixed ideas with no faculty to compute new ideas. Complete lack of mental fluidity.
Amen. It makes no sense to pay for services. Teachers should be free.
I think I put my ballot in feeder face side up. Yuck will it still count?
I put mine in face-up too -- there were no instructions on which way it should go.
I did notice a counter on the display that incremented when it sucked my ballot in, and one would hope that if the counter doesn't match the number of votes that get successfully scanned then it will be reviewed.
I'm pretty sure you and I voted in diametrically opposing ways, so they'll cancel each other out anyway.
If you can't follow simple instructions on how to insert you ballot into the box it does not get read and counted. Most of us think that is a good control mechanism.
Right. If you're too stupid to read the instructions maybe you shouldn't vote in the first place.