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Are the aldermen interfering in School Committee business?

2012 June 6
by Gail Spector

The TAB and Patch included information about the following resolution in their budget stories, but I have seen no follow-up discussion or remarks anywhere on the implications.  Somebody please tell me if there was online or print conversation that I missed.  If there wasn’t, we let the Board of Aldermen get away with something.

On May 21, the Board of Aldermen passed the mayor’s $313 million budget. They also passed — unanimously — the following non-binding resolution:

Budget Resolution #9

School Fees 

Submitted by Aldermen Kalis & Sangiolo

Whereas the Newton community strives to educate the complete student, including but not limited to the core curriculum, and whereas the implementation of school fees makes it burdensome for families to participate in aspects of student activities.

Be it RESOLVED that the school administration, together with the Mayor, School Committee and the Board of Aldermen, conduct a review of the fees policy to better understand the
impact fees are having on student participation in activities, to outline the new fee collection process, and to establish a working group focused on developing revenue sources to reduce or eventually eliminate the hardship of student activity fees over a specific timeline.

APPROVED by Voice Vote 

Probably the aldermen thought they were doing a good thing: trying to help struggling families. But they have no authority to interfere in the business of the School Committee. It may be non-binding but I find it disturbing that the 20-something aldermen who were there that day believe that because they don’t like that the school department charges fees, they can summon the School Committee to work with them to create a new process and generate “new sources of revenue” to eventually eliminate the hardship of fees.

How are board members quantifying the hardship? Is it anecdotal? How do they know the school department would prioritize eliminating fees if they were able to identify a new revenue source?  If there are really new revenue sources to be found — to the tune of $1 million a year — why are we talking about naming rights? Should the BOA have any more say than any other Newton residents about School Committee policy?

I hope somebody will tell me that I completely misunderstood this resolution.

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39 Responses Post a comment
  1. Anil Adyanthaya permalink
    June 6, 2012

    Here is what the Charter says about the School Committee’s powers:

    Sec. 4-3. General Powers and Duties.
    The School Committee shall have all the powers and duties which school committees may have under the General Laws and may have such additional powers and duties as the Board of Aldermen may by ordinance from time t0 time assign. The powers of the School Committee shall include but not be limited to the power to (1) appoint a superintendent, (2) appoint all other officers and employees connected with the schools, fix their compensation and define their duties, make rules concerning their tenure of office and discharge them at its pleasure, (3) furnish all school buildings with proper fixtures, furnishings and equipment, and (4) provide ordinary maintenance and repairs on all school buildings up to a maximum expenditure equal to two per cent of the School Department’s operating budget adopted for the preceding fiscal year, but sums in excess of said maximum for the provision of ordinary maintenance and repairs may be appropriated by the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen, and no sums appropriated to accounts for such ordinary maintenance and repairs shall be transferred without a two thirds vote of the Board of Aldermen. (Referendum of 11-4-75)

    Here’s what the General Laws say about school committee powers:

    Section 37. The school committee in each city and town and each regional school district shall have the power to select and to terminate the superintendent, shall review and approve budgets for public education in the district, and shall establish educational goals and policies for the schools in the district consistent with the requirements of law and statewide goals and standards established by the board of education. The school committee in each city, town and regional school district may select a superintendent jointly with other school committees and the superintendent shall serve as the superintendent of all of the districts that selected him.

    There seems to be at least an argument that the resolution falls outside of the powers granted to the School Committee.

  2. Tricia permalink
    June 6, 2012

    Doesn’t the BoA approve the city budget, which includes the school budget, which includes those fees?

  3. Ted Hess-Mahan permalink
    June 6, 2012

    @Gail, for crying out loud, it was a resolution. The BOA was not exercising any authority other than to ask the School Committee and the Mayor to work with the board to review school fees, that is all. I can assure you that I hear from parents all the time who are concerned about the fees and who feel like they are totally screwed. This was trying to do something proactive for those folks, not overreaching.

    @Tricia, we approve the bottom line for the school budget but the Board cannot change the line items in the school committee budget. That is why we pass budget resolutions. My first term, I drafted a resolution asking the schools to conduct a management and administrative compensation review because of concerns about cuts in the number of teachers. The school committee accepted the resolution and paid for two comprehensive studies which included a number of recommendations, some of which the schools adopted and others of which they did not.

    A budget resolution is a totally appropriate way to raise and issue and seek action without mandating it. Now, everybody chill.

  4. Gail Spector permalink
    June 6, 2012

    Anil – The resolution is about the powers granted to the Board of Aldermen, not the School Committee.

    Tricia – The Board of Aldermen approves the budget but it doesn’t approve school department policy. As I understand it, if the School Committee decided to add $1 million to the budget to launch a full day kindergarten program, the board couldn’t prevent it from doing so without voting down the entire budget. That would be interfering with policy, in the same way that aldermen inserting themselves into the fees process is interfering with policy.

  5. Gail Spector permalink
    June 6, 2012

    Sorry, Ted, I don’t buy it. It’s a resolution giving yourselves permission to overstep your boundaries. Does the school department even want to discuss eliminating fees?

  6. Tricia permalink
    June 6, 2012

    @Ted, thanks for that clarification. I’m with you on this one – since, at the end of the day, the BoA approves the budget, I don’t see how they are “interfering” by raising an issue related to the budget.

  7. Tricia permalink
    June 6, 2012

    @Gail – to me, a decision to launch FDK would be policy; where the $1m to pay for it would come from would be a budget question, which the BoA would seem to have a right to weigh in on (as it would effect the overall school budget, which they approve. I don’t see fees as “educational policy”, but as a budget mechanism that NPS has decided to use to pay for activities related to educational policies (athletics, drama, clubs, etc.) And IMHO, if the school department doesn’t want to discuss eliminating fees, they should, because I’m sure plenty of parents would like to discuss it.

  8. Joanne permalink
    June 6, 2012

    I think it is great. I am so glad that the BOA passed this resolution – they need to interfer in the SC business – with the exception of one Member of the SC the rest are just the rubber stampers of the Superintendent. Have you ever watched a meeting – if that One member asks a pointed question than the Chair just makes sure that is the last question, doesnt allow any follow up and then just moves on. Half the time she trys to ignore him even trying to ask a question.

    It is about time that more than that one SC member starts asking for answers. It seems that the BOA has realized this and in now pushing for more information on the naming rights and now fees. Keep it up.

    And they are not interfering in SC business – they are questioning NPS administrators policys – that the SC just happens to rubber stamp- all the time. The BOA are if you think about doing the SC’s job, since the SC doesnt have the guts to do it themselves. I guess this is a roundabout way for the BOA to get the SC to look more critically at the fees. Maybe in the process of the BOA asking some pointed questions – the SC will figure out that they might need to fix them. Thank you to the BOA for doing this.

  9. Anil Adyanthaya permalink
    June 6, 2012

    Gail,
    My point was that the School Committee’s duties are limited to what is explicitly described in the Charter and state law. Any other powers would have to come from the BOA ( per the Charter). So if the power to set school fees and raise revenue isn’t described as a School Committee power in the Charter or state law (and I don’t think they are), then it would seem to be a power that is held by the BOA .

    Also, I think that, per the state law, the “policies” that the School Committee have power over are “educational.” Fee setting seems to be more fiscal policy than educational. So I don’t think the BOA is inserting itself into educational policy here.

  10. Jerry Reilly permalink
    June 6, 2012

    If anyone does look at fees, I hope they start with the bus fee. It’s unconscionable that a public school charges for transportation when the city has chosen to locate that school nearly two miles away from a K-5 student’s home. No one in the school department would recommend that a 1st grader walk four miles round trip to school every day.

  11. Mike Striar permalink
    June 7, 2012

    I was sold before I reached the second coma of the first sentence… “Whereas the Newton community strives to educate the complete student, including but not limited to the core curriculum…”

    Seriously, I’d like to give a pat on the back to whoever wrote that line. It’s exactly what we should be doing [educating the complete student], what we’re trying to do, and what we are falling short of doing right now. So whoever wrote that line, whether it’s Alderman Sangiolo, Alderman Kalis, or someone else… Bravo, and thank you for reminding us of the real educational mission in such an articulate and succinct way.

    As far as the goal of reducing or eliminating school related fees, that certainly seems like a worthwhile endeavor, and I completely support it…

    Far more broad reaching in it’s significance however, is the recent attention being given to alternative revenue sources. It wasn’t so long ago [2005] I ran for mayor on a platform that featured a heavy emphasis on developing new, alternative revenue sources. I feel more strongly than ever, given the constraints of Proposition 2 1/2, and the challenge of achieving overrides, that alternative revenue sources are the real answer to fully and properly funding our schools and city services. I’m heartened by the Warren Administrations embrace of the concept, and more than a little impressed with the aldermen who had the courage and wisdom to advance this initiative.

  12. Sean permalink
    June 7, 2012

    What’s particularly unconscionable is that one of the consequences of the higher bus fees is increased driving to school.

  13. Sean permalink
    June 7, 2012

    Gail concludes:

    I hope somebody will tell me that I completely misunderstood this resolution.

    You completely misunderstood the resolution.

    There are two elements to this:

    * Determining the impact of user fees
    * Figuring out how to find more money to reduce or eliminate user fees (if appropriate)

    The board determines how much revenue will be devoted to and, therefore, the revenue sources for the school budget. So, it’s perfectly within its purview to consider the second element. Before they make a decision about adding revenue to the school budget, they are, appropriately, trying to understand how necessary it is.

    It strikes me as a touch, uh, assertive — after all, they could just ask the School Committee to provide the analysis — but well within bounds.

  14. Sean permalink
    June 7, 2012

    I’m left wondering, as I usually am, why the board is considering alternative revenue sources before exhausting traditional revenue sources. It’s been ten years since the last override, four years since the last override attempt, and two years since we started debt service on a top-dollar high school. It’s the city’s school system. The city ought to pay for it. Let’s have an override vote.

    I’d like to hear from one of the “can’t ask for an override until we prove we can spend the money wisely” crowd why the same reluctance doesn’t apply to soliciting money from new revenue sources.

    While this looks like a bold step on the part of the board, it’s a weak alternative to the right bold step.

  15. Ted Hess-Mahan permalink
    June 7, 2012

    @Gail, a budget resolution is the way that the BOA opens a conversation on matters of mutual interest to the BOA, SC and the Mayor. We can only vote for the SC budget or reject it or write a budget resolution asking that something be done. We cannot subtract line items, as we can with the city budget, and we cannot add line items for either budget, so we use a budget resolution to make our wishes known. If the SC ignores it, then the BOA can always just reject the school department budget. But that won’t happen. We generally find a way to work together, as we do with the Mayor on the city budget.

    This resolution was not intended as a broadside, but it was designed to get some attention to the issues. I was told by people “in the know” that my budget resolution–which was co-written and co-docketed by 5 other aldermen–asking for studies of the compensation of administrators and the management structure of the schools was interfering with the schools too. Maybe it was, but the schools were cutting teachers and the “popular wisdom” was that there were too many administrators getting paid too much. The studies were done, they yielded a lot of helpful information, and led to some constructive changes in the management structure and the way job descriptions and compensation were determined. All good.

    To be clear, I voted for this resolution because it was of citywide importance and impact. As Sean correctly points out, raising bus fees encourages more parents to drive instead of send their kids on the bus. That affects the whole city not just the schools. And, while there is a hardship exemption, there are many more people who cannot afford all the things that the schools charge fees for now ($1800 a year) and a lot of folks who will not ask for an exemption out of embarrassment or pride. As with the naming rights issue, we are asked to create revolving accounts to receive funds raised from fees. When a docket item to create a revolving fund for various school fees first came to the BOA, I voted against it (and got my rear end chewed by some SC members for my trouble). But it was approved and the concern I raised then–that once you create these fees they will only rise and you will never get rid of them–has come true.

    So, kudos to Sangiolo and Kalis.

  16. Gail Spector permalink
    June 7, 2012

    @Sean:

    The board determines how much revenue will be devoted to and, therefore, the revenue sources for the school budget. So, it’s perfectly within its purview to consider the second element.

    I thought the mayor determines how much revenue will be devoted to the school budget. The board can’t adjust this line item.

    @Ted:
    I have no problem with the board discussing anything with the School Committee. Discussions are good and if resolutions are the proper protocol to make them happen, so be it. But this resolution doesn’t say let’s find out if there’s a problem. It says let’s look at the problem that we know exists and then fix it this way, whether you think it should be fixed or not. That is overstepping your bounds.

  17. Ted Hess-Mahan permalink
    June 7, 2012

    Gail says:

    It says let’s look at the problem that we know exists and then fix it this way, whether you think it should be fixed or not. That is overstepping your bounds.

    It is what it is.

    Every resolution includes some “whereas” clauses which state the facts as the board of alderman finds them. We meant to step where we stepped. If we were overstepping, so be it. But I would do it again in a New York minute.

  18. Sean permalink
    June 7, 2012

    Gail,

    You seem more exercised by a simple board resolution than by the fact that our schools are badly underfunded and, in at least one critical regard, in a way that is dramatically unfair.

  19. Lisap permalink
    June 7, 2012

    If I may borrow from the words of Brendan Sullivan, the BOA is not a potted plant. They do not have to sit idly by and ignore an issue which is in the minds of many parents. Whether they have the power or authority to take corrective action is not the question. Rather, it is whether they can and should have the ability to speak up and initiate a dialogue about a local matter which is of concern to their constituents.

    A resolution is not a summons and describing it as such is a mischaracterization of the process of opening a dialogue. It is the difference between asking and demanding. Would it be better practice for the board to remain silent and simply exercise their power to reject a budget without ever having addressed areas of concern? Keeping strictly within the confines of what they are empowered to do, that would be a rather atomic option.

  20. Gail Spector permalink
    June 7, 2012

    @Sean -

    You seem more exercised by a simple board resolution than by the fact that our schools are badly underfunded and, in at least one critical regard, in a way that is dramatically unfair.

    Not true at all, as I suspect you know. But declaring that there is a problem — without back-up data — and laying out the path to remedy such problem is grandstanding. It is not a way to fix the underfunding in our schools.

    If the board unanimously passed a resolution requesting that the mayor, Board of Aldermen and School Committee set up a working group to discuss ways to raise new revenues for the schools with no designated purpose, I’d have no problem with it. Somebody please let me know when that happens.

    @Ted – Thanks for clarifying the purpose of a resolution. We disagree on this one.

  21. amysangiolo permalink
    June 7, 2012

    “But declaring that there is a problem — without back-up data — and laying out the path to remedy such problem is grandstanding. It is not a way to fix the underfunding in our schools.”

    Gail: Do you really think it is alright to use fees as a way to fix the underfunding in our schools and do you honestly believe that the institution of fees has had no impact at all?

    Too bad you didn’t join in on the bandwagon with the few Aldermen who suggested going out to the voters and paying for Newton North with a debt exclusion or at the very least – not encouraging the Board to “stop talking – start building” without having a sound financing plan or even a concrete budget in place.

  22. amysangiolo permalink
    June 7, 2012

    I forgot to add Alderman Kalis should receive credit for putting that outstanding resolution together.

  23. Gail Spector permalink
    June 7, 2012

    Gail: Do you really think it is alright to use fees as a way to fix the underfunding in our schools and do you honestly believe that the institution of fees has had no impact at all?

    Thank you, Amy. You have made my point for me. What I think is one opinion as is what you think, and the board should not be acting on just a few people’s opinions. Is there data on the impact of fees? Maybe David Fleishman would keep fees and use additional revenue to reduce class size and add full-day kindergarten. It’s his — and the School Committee’s — issue to discuss, not the board’s.

    While I never completely joined the bandwagon about a Newton North debt exclusion, you’ve forgotten that I did encourage the board to consider “Brangiolo” because I felt that, despite some problems, it was the most responsible way to go in 2008.

  24. Joanne permalink
    June 7, 2012

    The bottom line is the the SC members do not have a backbone and rubber stamp whatever is placed in front of them from the NPS and the BOA are at least listening to parents complaints. GOOD for them. Too bad that Gail believes them to be overstepping their role. The majority of Parents don’t. Maybe if you are concerned with the SC role – you should highlight how one member is continually shut down from asking important questions or probing that issue prior to voting. It is clearly apparent at every SC meeting. Until the SC realize that their job is NOT to just rubber stamp what the Superintendent wants – we can only hope that the BOA will continue to pass resolutions so that we can all get the full information.

  25. Sean permalink
    June 7, 2012

    Gail,

    Clearly, you don’t think that, with the current divvying of responsibilities, this is something the board should look into. If it weren’t a jurisdictional issue, would you argue against the board’s action? Is there something fundamentally wrong with the general legislative body looking into school fees? Do you feel like it ought to be the SC’s business only?

  26. Gail Spector permalink
    June 7, 2012

    Good question Sean.
    I need to think about that one. My first instinct is to say, yes, I think this is a matter that should be before the School Committee alone because I see it as school policy, but I’m not sure I want to commit myself to that answer. I’d want to know how other districts set their fees and whether it’s under the jurisdiction of their school boards or their general legislative bodies.

    If the aldermen have a say in whether to set school fees, what’s to stop them from participating in the discussion of setting the fee amounts? Do we really want 33 people determining how much to charge a kid to play lacrosse? Do they get involved every time fees get raised?

    Personally, I’d rather see the board put its energy into coming up with its own ideas for raising revenue but that’s a topic for a different blog thread.

  27. Ted Hess-Mahan permalink
    June 7, 2012

    Gail, I will try one last time to persuade you of the correctness as well as the righteousness of our cause.

    If impact of the schools’ fee policy affected only the schools, students and parents, it would be a tougher call, because that would indeed be solely within the school committee’s purview. In that case, a budget resolution asking the school committee to reconsider its fee policies in light of the harsh impact on some families would have been in order.

    But some of these fees, particularly the student parking and bus fees, have a profound citywide impact on traffic and parking, and a negative environmental and public health impact on everyone, because higher bus fees and lower student parking fees encourage more people to get in a car to go to school. Those impacts are within the purview of the Board of Aldermen, as well as the Mayor and the School Committee. In my view, that justifies a stronger budget resolution demanding action from all three affected branches of government.

    The incredibly high cap on activity fees is also having a deleterious effect on families, because it discourages participation in athletics, theater, and other extracurricular activities that promote the public welfare and health. While somewhat more tangential, it is hard to sit idly by while we receive so many complaints about these fees from people who are having to choose between offering their kids opportunities or buying groceries and clothing for their kids. So if you believe that is overstepping our bounds, so be it. But as I said, I would do it again in a heartbeat. It is not as if the School committee wants to charge high activity fees, it is because there is not enough money to do all of the things the schools want to do without them. That requires getting the Mayor, the School Committee and the Board together to come up with a solution. And that is what the resolution seeks.

    Okay. I’m done with this. Time to start drafting my graduation speech for the Class of 2014.

  28. Bill Brandel permalink
    June 7, 2012

    I always found it bizarre that the Charter lists budget management as one of the key roles of the Board of Aldermen, but then the School Committee is granted the power to proactively shape 60% of the City’s expenditures.

    At the same time, the Board does have some oversight overs school issues, through programs and services, finance, traffic control, and public facilities. Inevitably, the Board will be expected to vote on a budget that includes these fees, and potentially will deal with an override request that may or may not impact fees. Shouldn’t the Board be concerned with whether City policies reflect residents’ desires concern environmental transportation, fee equity and usage, walkable sidewalks or vehicle queuing on streets surrounding schools?

    What this points to is how arcane the arrangement is between the Board and School Committee. The idea should be for them to collaborate, and this current structure begs for items such as this one. If they do Charter Review, I hope that this structural arrangement is one of the issues that gets addressed.

  29. Sean permalink
    June 8, 2012

    I’m sure that Ted will have more information on this topic, but I’m pretty sure that the it’s state law, not the charter, that dictates the degree of control (or lack thereof) that the board has over the school budget.

  30. Ted Hess-Mahan permalink
    June 8, 2012

    I’m back. Sean is correct that state law gives the School Committee sole authority over the schools:

    Except as otherwise provided in this chapter and subject to any laws which limit the amount of money that may be appropriated in any city for school purposes, the school committee, in addition to the powers and duties conferred and imposed by law on school committees, may provide, when necessary, temporary accommodations for school purposes, may make all repairs, the expenditures for which are made from the regular appropriation for the school department, shall have control of all school buildings and grounds connected therewith and shall make all reasonable rules and regulations, consistent with law, for the management of the public schools of the city and for conducting the business of the committee.

    Shorter, the Board of Aldermen and the Mayor control the bottom line for the school budget, but the School Commitee controls how that money is spent. What requires the most collaboration is funding to build and renovate schools, since that is almost entirely within the control of the Board of Aldermen and the Mayor. That is why we have been having joint meeting of the BOA and SC to discuss the long term capital plan for the schools. But we need to understand the long term capital plan for all city infrastructrure since it all comes out of the same pot (except for water, sewer and stormwater management, which comes from the enterprise fund that is funded with usage fees).

    But here’s the thing: because the BOA gets to approve, reject or reduce the school budget, it is incumbent upon the SC and the school administration to demonstrate that they are following a wise fiscal policy, just like any other department. The only difference is, the BOA cannot go in and cut a specific line item from the school budget, whereas the BOA can cut line items in the city budget. Similarly, the SC approves the funding of school employees collective bargaining agreements while the BOA approves the funding for city employees’ CBAs. So it all gets back to using budget resolutions to influence the fiscal policy of departments. The BOA has stronger tools to use with city departments but in the end, the Mayor has to agree to changes in fiscal policy requested by the board, and the same is true with the school committee. The only tools that the BOA has to influence school policy are reject or reduce the bottom line or submit a budget resolution (which carries the implicit threat that the next budget cycle the BOA could decide to reject or reduce the bottom line if no changes are made).

  31. Gail Spector permalink
    June 8, 2012

    @Ted:

    But some of these fees, particularly the student parking and bus fees, have a profound citywide impact on traffic and parking, and a negative environmental and public health impact on everyone, because higher bus fees and lower student parking fees encourage more people to get in a car to go to school. Those impacts are within the purview of the Board of Aldermen, as well as the Mayor and the School Committee. In my view, that justifies a stronger budget resolution demanding action from all three affected branches of government.

    Using that same logic, shouldn’t the School Committee get involved in zoning decisions that affect the schools? Certainly there are many parents who are worried that Riverside will add too many students to an already overcrowded system. I know that Countryside parents worry every time there’s talk of a new development in the area. Why not include the SC in every zoning discussion that adds residential units?

  32. Steve Siegel permalink
    June 8, 2012

    I have no issue with this BOA docket item. Perhaps this is because the elimination of fees is consistent with my own beliefs, and a wider discussion of current fee policy and other school funding sources may help us get there.

    On the very positive side, the group proposed by this docket item may help the SC and NPS reach better financial footing: When the school department was laser-focused on closing last year’s $4 million budget gap, fee growth provided an immediate answer within our control that seemed less damaging than some alternatives, like cutting teachers and program breadth. But a wider formal discussion with the BOA and Mayor may help bring more funds into the system once all parties better understand the trade-off discussions that led to fee increases in the first place.

    I do believe that details of school policy and program spending belong squarely on the school side. Yet where funding comes from and how it impacts our citizens is of general interest; good perspectives and good solutions are available across our city.

    Talk is good. Let’s talk.

  33. Tricia permalink
    June 8, 2012

    Why not include the SC in every zoning discussion that adds residential units?

    …and I’m with Gail on this one (even if she’s asking sarcastically.)

  34. June 8, 2012

    Nice to see a School Committee member and two aldermen on this thread. Be nicer to hear from a few more.

  35. Sean permalink
    June 8, 2012

    Gail challenges:

    Using that same logic, shouldn’t the School Committee get involved in zoning decisions that affect the schools?

    If you believe, as I do, that increased density is a moral imperative given our environmental situation, then the intersection of schools and land use is incredibly important. One of the biggest blockers, if not the biggest blocker, to increased density in the city is our overcrowded, falling down schools. Our ability to handle increased school population is a green issue.

    Absolutely, we should coordinate school policies and land use.

  36. Bill Brandel permalink
    June 8, 2012

    Alderman Roche: Thanks for the clarification. However, I still find it to be arcane. I would surmise (and pls. correct me if I’m wrong) that this statute was probably written at a time when school budgets represented a fraction, rather than the lion’s share of municipal budgets. For Newton, the school budget is that tail that wags the dog. And while it is appropriate for the SC to determine its allocation *request*, it is still the Board’s role to provide fiscal oversight. Not having the means to interact with the SC about specific expenditures impedes that process.

    I am happy to see Steve’s comment about this subject, and I agree with his policy approach in this matter. To this matter, at the end of the day, city government is an organization, and virtually every organization on the planet is now working to eliminate silos, not reinforce them. And as I would believe that it is the primary desire of everyone in City government to arrive at the best possible outcome, I would hope that the focus should be on how that best happens, not how it used to be done.

  37. Tom Sheff permalink
    June 8, 2012

    kudos to amy and david for bringing this issue public

  38. Ted Hess-Mahan permalink
    June 8, 2012

    Gail, the school committee certainly plans for increased enrollment but, no, they do not have a role to play. It is not in their purview under the statute. They have control of public education, school buildings, the line items in their budget, and collective bargaining. Land use and zoning, not so much. Those are solely within the Board’s purview (this is because an affirmative vote on land use and zoning matters requires a veto proof majority, so the Mayor’s role is limited).

    This is all pretty much a moot point, because the Board of Aldermen is going to take these issues up anyway when the Mayor has to come in with the docket items to create the revolving funds for some of these fees. That is indisputably within the Board’s purview. And, as we have seen with the naming rights policy (which I happen to support), the Board is not just going to roll over.

    Steve: Attaboy!

  39. Geoff Epstein permalink
    July 29, 2012

    I agree with Steve.

    It’s a sign of a healthy city that the Board of Aldermen can put forth their opinions as they see fit.

    Fees are a pain in the head and there is quite a degree of concern on the SC about them.

    In general, the board has played a very useful role in raising issues which need more conversation. They were very helpful in the Day/modulars debate for sure.

    Keep it up Board of Aldermen!

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