Melrose Cares: Open Community Dialogue

Click here to report offensive or inappropriate posts.

Alderman & City Politics
Start a New Topic 
Don't Use METCO as Budget Scapegoat

This excellent post was on the School side (in response to a very flawed posting by "Real Facts" that suggested METCO creates $800,000+ cost to Melrose--NOT true!), but deserves fuller representation regarding city governance:

Dear Real Facts,

If you're looking for some scapegoat for home-grown mismanagement, I'm afraid you've fallen for the politicians' tactics - hook, line, and sinker. Don't feel bad, you're not alone. Look at all the well-meaning, but naive override proponents who are knocking on doors each weekend. They took the bait, too. They also scapegoat things like METCO. Their argument is that the politicians have already been working 'magic' against some horrible, external villains, and now can't keep up with it.

The real problem isn't METCO, it's not the charter school, it's not state funding, and it's not increased enrollment, either. The real problems are sitting in the offices of the mayor, auditor, and superintendent. Their chronic, status-quo mismanagement persists, unabated, due to their insular nature and the willful neglect of the school committee and the aldermen. The very people in Melrose charged with governance and oversight have become nothing more than rubber stamps. That Melrose model is what gets Melrose into unfortunate situations, time after time. The only 'magic' the politicians here make is with the smoke and mirrors they use to convince taxpayers that the problems are due to money and other scapegoats - anything but them.

Here's the Real Facts about METCO:

The largest revenue source for METCO is the one you left out - all the Chapter 70 funds Melrose receives for the 125 students. It likely amounts to $1.4 - $1.5 Million, by itself. It's about one-sixth of all the Chapter 70 funds Melrose receives from the state. It amounts to about the average per-pupil expenditure for Melrose times each of the 125 METCO students. (It's not any fault of yours that you don't know about it. The politicians are happy to let you believe anything which supports their narrative.)

Of course, the AVERAGE cost per pupil is far more than the MARGINAL cost of adding in 9-10 students per grade of 300. In the last few years, Melrose has been overjoyed to get money for the "School Choice" students, and they only bring in $5,000 each. Melrose likely makes a 'profit' off the METCO students of about $700,000 on the Chapter 70 reimbursement, alone, compared to if we didn't participate in METCO.

The $700,000 from the METCO grant about which you wrote is supposed to cover transportation, the director and support staff. Because Melrose doesn't hire nearly enough METCO support staff, it pockets another few hundred thousand dollars from the METCO students. Between Chapter 70 and the unapplied funds, METCO students subsidize the hometown students to the tune of $1,000,000 a year.

Please don't attempt to use METCO as a scapegoat any longer. As of now, let's take that one scapegoat off the table for the rest of this override discussion. Now that you've seen the Real Facts, someone may begin to believe you have other motives if you persist.