Thursday, October 16, 2008

School of thought

I'm more than a little amused by Mayor Correia's proposal to close the gap on a 3.5 million dollar shortage in the Fall River school budget. When news of the shortfall hit the front page of the Herald News, I told a friend that the Superintendent and the admin staff should take a 5-10% pay cut and the School Committee should return ½ their salaries. These were some thoughts I meant to blog about days ago. See what happens when you end up sitting on a post?


So the Mayor has offered a proposal along those lines - that would cut salaries and eliminate 48 positions, mostly administrative. To no surprise this has well received by the general public who feel too much money is spent in administration and not enough in the classroom. Like everyone else I have been angry and upset by the current condition of our school department. Like everyone else I don't want cuts that are going to affect the quality of our children's education. However, I am not sure if the Mayor's proposal is really the best way to go about this.


I've said this before, but we need to compare the structure of the Fall River School Department to that of similar communities. We need to figure out what services are essential and the amount of manpower needed to provide those services. It sounds great to cut the fat out of administration, but what if it isn't fat? Can you imagine if a company cut it's sales staff to save money? That would probably result is a poor sales forecast! Can you imagine if a company fired it's research and development team? It would be trying to sell an out of date product! The point is you can't just make cuts and eliminate positions without considering what the impact will be.


The Mayor, Superintendent, and School Committee need to start at square one. They need to figure out what the cost is to meet our minimal obligation. How many teachers are needed and what is their cost? How many people in food services, janitorial staff, para-professionals and their cost. This process should continue until we've figured out the cost of a bare-bones budget. This budget would include no extras, no after school programs, no after school sports, if it isn't required by law, if it wasn't essential, it wouldn't be included.


Of course people will complain about the loss of certain programs and the negative effect that will have, but I'm not saying we should stop there. At this point the big three above need to figure out what services go above and beyond the bare-bones that they are not willing to do without. Do we want after school sports? Add that in. How about the music program? Think of this a little bit like buying a new car. First you take the base cost of the car and then you add the options you want, adding and taking away based on what you can afford and what is important to you. Sometimes you end up with the car you wanted and sometimes you end up with one that isn't as nice as you wished but it's still better than basic transportation.


However, at some point the numbers get pretty inflexible. What happens if the Mayor is saying the budget has to be under 85 million but a bare-bones budget is 84 million? What happens to our extras? What happens to after school sports, arts and music? I think this is kind of where we are now, except I'm not sure anyone knows what the bare-bones cost would be or the costs of the extras, or that anyone really knows what's fat and what's bone.


So we're left with a school system in crisis, and most people are pointing the finger of blame directly at Dr. Nick Fischer. I think that's pretty unfair. To be sure, he has a lot to answer for. It seems every school committee meeting there is a new discovery of a budget shortfall, or something unexpected, or under-projected. It's gotten ridiculous! It's gotten to a point where I wonder why Dennis Sullivan has a job. Dr. Fischer may be the captain of the ship, but he has been let down by his crew! That's something he needs to answer for! Why does it seem that the department doesn't have a handle on it's own budget? If Dr. Fischer knew that this was a woefully underfunded budget he should have said so, LOUDLY. However he also needs to be ready to justify EVERY expense.


I would love to take the Fall River school budget to the superintendents of New Bedford, Brockton, and Taunton and ask if they could provide these services under this budget? I get why people are upset at Fischer, but I also think people find him aloof and arrogant and so blaming him becomes pretty easy. I'm upset with him too, but I'm furious that Mayor Correia cut the school budget and now offers up MORE cuts. (By the way, has he offered to cut his own salary?) I'm furious because I don't think the Mayor made the effort to figure out if the budget was adequate to meet projected expenses. I'm ticked off that our school committee seems willing to bicker back and forth but unwillingly to challenge the Mayor for more money. It's easy to point fingers at Dr. Fischer but did the members of the school committee have any idea if the budget they passed was adequate for the program they helped put into place?

Our school system is in crisis and so far the solution of our leadership is to keep chipping away until it fits into the budget the Mayor has deemed appropriate. The motto of the day is cut the fat and blame the Superintendent! The reality is we're cutting more than fat. We're cutting quality and services. No one is bothering to analyze where the fat is or to see if the budget was ever enough to cover expenses. The actions being taken now are going to have far reaching effects on our future. Who do we point the finger at then?

175 comments:

Anonymous said...

According to figures released by the federal government, over the last year, inflation has grown by about 3% over the last year. This means that the same level of goods and services that was provided last year now costs 3% more. This same rate of inflation applies to the cost of public education. Yet, the Mayor dictated a bottom line to the School Department which was 1 million dollars less than that of the 2007 - 2008 school year. How can our schools even stay in the same place under those conditions? The Mayor is correct to blame the Superintendent and leadership team, but he must also take responsibility for ignoring the economic facts of life.

Anonymous said...

My mom always used to say:

Don't cut of your nose to spite your face!!

RadioFree said...

Correia put Fischer into a practically impossible situation, a budget below the previous year -- with no adjustment for increased energy costs, increasing health care costs, etc. In addition, people were bitching to keep a middle school open for sentimental reasons -- not logical ones, so all the "emotional" factors that suddenly become financial headaches also had to be dealt with. (The Morton issue is symptomatic of the nonsensical BS that must be factored into the budget ... because Fall River logic demands that Morton/Durfee/Washed up basketball player pride overrides the reality of any situation. Let's bitch about the consultants that are keeping us off state watch lists and brow beat the superintendent into making stupid decisions because we were born in Fawl Riva and know better than YOU.)

Everything is always underfunded in the Fall River school budget. This is nothing new. People are just paying closer attention (to some degree now.) Happened with the last superintendent ...

To me, this is all political:

Bob Correia and Bob Karam are very close. Some might say too close. Bob Karam and Nick Fischer are close. Bob Karam hand picked Nick Fischer for the superintendent's gig. Bob Karam wanted Nick Fischer to get a new contract. (Jack Sbrega and Jean McCormick? Very close to Bob and Bob as well. See op ed.)

Nick Fischer got his new contract. Now, Bob Correia can use Nick Fischer as his new punching bag, (formerly Ed Lambert) and use him as an excuse for his administration's failures. Nick keeps his job, Bob gets re-elected based on the oldest slight of hand trick in the book and Bob Karam gets what he wants -- when he wants it.

Dig?

It Said said...

Keri, the situation is far more fluid then you realize..

The ice under Nick Fischer is getting thinner by the hour..and negotiations on that new contract may never start, if enough committee members want to change their vote of only a few weeks ago..

Fischer has not been served well by his administrators, especially those handling Facilities and Operations, who kept hiring people for whatever reasons were avaliable.

Don't be surprised if some heads roll down Rock Street once this is all said and done..

Anonymous said...

It can't happen fast enough for me. I hope Fischer is the first head to roll. He's such a lying and conniving bullsh*t artist. Selling us all down the river for his big paycheck.

Anonymous said...

Radiofree, I'm not sure what "sentimental" reasons you are referring to for keeping Morton open. Morton continuing to run as the 4th middle school in this city is not the reason we are in a budget crisis. The budget not even being level funded from the previous year is definitely where it started. How can you run a school system with less money with increasing energy costs, cost of living increases in salaries and health care cost increases? Anyone with half a brain knows that costs for everything are increasing not decreasing. Next, there has definitely been mismanagement of school ddepartment funds. There is plenty of blame to go around for that. There are department heads that do not know how to develop a budget never mind live within it. It has been common practice for a department to overspend what he had in the budget and go to the school committee and ask for a transfer of funds from another line item or department that realized a savings. The transfer would be approved. "No problem" spend all your money we'll give you more. Now there is no more and they are still spending. The person who is spending over his budget should be fired. The superintendent is to blame for not providing more oversight to his staff. The school committee is to blame for not paying attention to the budget when it was presented to them and voted on in June. How could they not realize that $38,000 for the year was not enough to budget for utilities for one of the new schools? Did the school committee not look at a final copy of the budget? Did they just approve the bottom line and trust that the school department would budget it correctly?
What bothers me the most is the the students of this city are the ones that are going to pay for the school departments mistakes and incompetence. Direct services to our students are being cut. Some might think that art, music and sports are frivolous but they are not. Children need to be involved. Extracurricular activities are important on so many levels. Not only do they give students something to be involved in rather than hanging on corners, sitting in front of the tv they are needed to get into college. College admissions look for well rounded students that are involved in a variety of extracurricular activites. Cut the music, art and athletic programs and you doom our children to not be competitive candidates for good colleges. Our high school graduates don't go to college what do they do then? Get a job in the mills in Fall River? Oh wait a minute, those don't exist anymore!
I am disgusted by the whole situation. As a parent of a child in the FRPS system I am seriously thinking of sending my child elsewhere. Somewhere she has a chance of succeeding.

Anonymous said...

Keri,

Now the love/hate relationship with the mayor , wsar and fischer makes sense

Anonymous said...

keri please go away you are making a joke of yourself..your blog gets no traffic..you are hanging on but your bully pulpiy is gone.despite your predictions wsar is thriving in your absence..the hurricanes show is at a whole different level ..go away and keep whatever dignity you have left!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Keri,

He's begging.

Anonymous said...

Bob Correia will be re-elected because no one with any chance at all of beating him is going to run. In a recent article in the Herald News, Al Alves, Brad Kilby and Eric Poulin all declined to run for Mayor in 2009. So who is going to beat Bob?

As far as Morton, it does make sense to have a middle school in the North End of the city which has a large population and that middle school is not underperforming. There are two middle schools in the South End and both of them are underperforming. Why two underperforming middle schools in the South End? It must be for sentimental reasons, why not ask former South End representative for 30 years Mayor Correia about that one.

Anonymous said...

...and WSAR is at a whole different level from when you were there Keri and that level would be low, the lowest point to which that station has ever sunk and that is saying something considering the way its ownership has mismanaged it for years.

Anonymous said...

The unions should NEVER take a pay cut. Rule number one of ALL unions. That is INSANE!! Once you start, it will never stop and you'll be working later and coming in earlier with no pay, etc. That is why we have unions. This mayor is an autocrat, and he orders people around like they are chess pieces. He prides himself in having his little trophy assistants who work long hours with no compensation. That is fine if the mayor is their king and they choose that life to worship him. But teachers and administrators who are unionized had better NEVER accept a pay cut. That is the end of the end.

Anonymous said...

The arrogance of the Superintendent of Schools continues to reach new heights as the level of red ink continues to rise. When asked about the Mayor's proposal of a 5% pay cut, he responded that he would consider it only as part of a new contract. The only thing that the School Committee should be negotiating with him is a SEVEREANCE PACKAGE

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
...and WSAR is at a whole different level from when you were there Keri and that level would be low, the lowest point to which that station has ever sunk and that is saying something considering the way its ownership has mismanaged it for years.

Lefty,
Once again you have an antagonistic poster, here we go again, next you will be blogging with wsar and censoring the comments. Obviously this person is afraid of Keri's comments.



And just because she doesn't have traffic on her blog doesn't mean people aren't reading the information she provides. Maybe the commentor could register on her site and comment.

Anonymous said...

If you note the counter on Keri's website she gets plenty of traffic. I think people are hesitant to post because you can't do it anon. People may be afraid of retribution.

Anonymous said...

http://media.umassp.edu/massedu/bot/8200botminutes.pdf

Robert Karam is the loving husband of Susan, proud father of Missy
and Stephen and of loyal brother of James and Thomas

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
If you note the counter on Keri's website she gets plenty of traffic. I think people are hesitant to post because you can't do it anon. People may be afraid of retribution.

Retribution from whom? Karam or Keri???

Anonymous said...

As I recall Keri, you were quite passionate in your reasoning for keeping Morton open. You thought they were the best performing middle school in the city. You thought the North End needed a middle school. You actually went above and beyond in degrading the other three middle schools, which is something I do not believe ownership would be on board for at all. You just seem really bitter now and seem to be rewriting history. Furthermore, how long did you live in Fall River and how many school committee meetings did you go to? I really think you have very little handle on this mess at all.

Anonymous said...

I believe the school committee should vote to cut out an administrative position that is not providing a direct service to students. But before they vote to cut a teacher, para, or personnel providing direct student services they should ask the Mayor to hand over some of the money he is clinging to in the stabilization account for one time expenses. Also the Mayor has added to the school department budget the retirement, health care, and unemployment expenses among others. These expenses use to paid on the City side of the ledger. Pay close attention to the article in yesterday's Herald News about what costs created this deficit. I think the City is as much to blame as the school administration.

FRC said...

I agree with the above comment. The School Dept. received a smaller budget this year than last year, and had to absorb additional costs that the Mayor shifted to the School Dept.


Smaller budget + More expenses; what did we think was going to happen?

It is just a bonus for the Mayor that some of the Leadership Team happen to be incompetent also.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 11:02 are you slow? That comment noted that things are bad since Keri left so how is that antagonistic to Keri? Reading comprehension, try it some time.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:37,

I apologize I meant to respond to this post. But thanks for the condescending comment. :)


Anonymous said...
keri please go away you are making a joke of yourself..your blog gets no traffic..you are hanging on but your bully pulpiy is gone.despite your predictions wsar is thriving in your absence..the hurricanes show is at a whole different level ..go away and keep whatever dignity you have left!!!!!!!!!

signed,
slow

Anonymous said...

I always wondered why Keri was up the superintendent's butt every time she interviewed him. She sounded so sickeningly sweet. Then I forgave her when I found out she was only doing the bidding of her bosses. It enrages me now that she is defending this superintendent and his incompetent administrators. I expected her to tell the truth now that she is out of here. If she really feels that Fischer is doing a great job and that these problems can be blamed on other reasons, she is stupid. The evidence speaks for itself, he overspent his budget, he knew what his budget was, and he went out and hired and hired his friends as consultants, his incompetent leadership team members and got a fat paycheck and every time he was on her show she sucked up to him and he lied through his teeth to her. She had to know, yet she still defends him. It is sickening. I am there every day, I assure he is a liar and he is trying to cover up the mistakes of all of his incompetent staff, such as Sullivan. But it is too late. They had to send in troops from the city side to even get figures from him. He expected to get bailed out like he did with the previous mayor but it ain't happenin.

Anonymous said...

You obviously are in the school administration and I agree with you that we need to know all the workings of the political machine in fall river, there is so much more going on than is reported here.

RadioFree said...

I posted a comment here this morning, but it never made it up onto the site. Anyway ...

For the record, I don't really care what happens at WSAR anymore. I stopped listening to the station completely the day that I heard Mike Herren tell the audience that communism -- isn't really that bad and that communism in China was actually "kinda good" and "really working out for them". Jesus H. Christ.

You see, I didn't go to Durfee High School and I have no interest in the daily high school reunion that has taken over the airwaves. It's too pathetic and it makes me sad for people who have to relive their days at Durfee because their best days are behind them. No thanks.

However, I am free to express my opinion. Really free -- unlike talk show hosts at WSAR. No one is going to call me during the breaks to tell me to "shut my f**king mouth" anymore because there are no more breaks. And those who tried to keep me quiet can now kiss my ass. I could care less if people read my blog or read my comments on this site. But no one is going to stop me from expressing myself.

As for the subject at hand: Most of you are missing the point. You are concentrating on the consequences. The incompetence. But the only incompetence that will ever cause any real consequence is political incompetence. The school committee needs a punching bag to justify keeping their jobs. The mayor needs a punching bag to justify keeping his. Bob Karam provides the punching bag -- and gets what he wants in return.

None of these people give a flying crap about anything other than controlling things, controlling other people and preserving the relationships that keep them in a position to keep control.

Everything else is just an unfortunate detail to these people. And yes, it is that simple. The real problem in the city of Fall River has much more to do with long standing relationships and back door political maneuvering.

Off to Cleveland Ohio soon to bring it home for OBAMA. Don't forget to vote people!

Anonymous said...

KERI IS FAKE SHE ALWAYS HAS BEEN AND ALWAYS WILL BE I AM SAD THAT IT TOOK ME SO LONG TO FIGURE THIS OUT. WHEN IT CAME TO HER SHOW SHE ALWYSED RIDES THE WAVE OF THE HOTTEST TOPICS FLYING AROUND. I CALLED IN ALMOST EVERYDAY AND IT WOULD DRIVE ME CRAZY HOW SHE ALWAYS DEFENDED DR. FISHER. I AM SO HAPPY FALL RIVER IS OVER HER , AND MY ONLY SUGGESTION TO YOU KERI IS TO GET EVALUATION SO YOU CAN GET THE HLP YOU NEED.

Anonymous said...

Where is the president of the FR Chamber now! Wasn't Alan Silva esq. behind nick fisher and the job he's done for our school dept.. I believe the herald quoted him as saying the school is heading in the right direction. I would love for little alan to explain himself. It's obviously not just the toys that are yo yo's at omega.
By the way where is The other Alan now,. Boy genius will be leaving soon; seems like history does repeat itself!!! Its always easy to take things apart, maybe Alan will try to stay long enough somewhere to make the adjustments to put it together. Must not have taught that at Harvard nights!!(school)

Anonymous said...

Writing in caps again!

Keri,

You are correct it is all about political favors and you forgot it's also about power. Someone is awful upset that you have the freedom of speech to write what you want. Unfortunately what happens is it gets censored so just keep writing on your blog.

Anonymous said...

The School Department was given less money this year than last year but fixed costs for gas, electricity, etc. went up therefore that would require cuts. The city side of the budget also used to pay for the school department's health care, worker's comp, etc. but all that got dumped in the school department's lap including making them pay the new sewer user fee. Everyone was quiet while all this happened, most of the School Committee and City Council allowed it to happen and now all of a sudden there is outrage and no one understands why there is a deficit?

Anonymous said...

Somebody close to keri should reach out to her and tell her to stop it about wsar,the karams, mike herren etc ..its at the point now were it is ridiculous!!She tried to blow the place up on her way out and has been obsessing about it ever since..let it go the gig is over keep whatever dignity you have left and move on!!

Anonymous said...

The Durfee HS reunion on WSAR is being enjoyed by all the listeners. It is great to hear hometown boys with Fall River stories. Mike Herren talks about what all of us true Fall Riverites know and he does it with respect for our opinions. He remembers Fall River back in the days when this City was a place you were glad to call home. Thanks Mike for not forgetting the Fall River I remember,

Anonymous said...

How does every post end up about Keri, Herren, WSAR and the Karams? This is a discussion about the school department budget and the crisis we are in. Our children are getting the raw end of a very bad deal and all you people care about are bashing eachother? Can we please stick to the issue?

Lefty said...

Many thanks for those commentors who have stayed on topic!

Look, I'm glad that Keri shared her opinion but this post is not about Keri, WSAR, or any WSAR employee. I think Keri herself has tried to steer this back on topic and for that I thank her.

Our school system is really in a perilous situation. The powers that be seem to feel that the solution is making cuts until it fits in the defined budget, but what will be the condition of the school system when that is achieved? What will be the quality of it? What happens next year if we're still tightening our belt!?

I've put a submitted blog post about the mess our school system is in on www.fallriverblog.com - check it out!

Fall River Parents & Citizens for Change said...

I have been tracking these same issues. I am the organizer of "Fall River Parents & Citizens for Change". I to agree that the blame lies with the entire School Committee as well as Nick Fischer's School Department. I blame the School Committee who hired Fischer knowing full well that this is the same thing he did in Christina, DE, his former Superintendent gig. They were also left millions of dollars in debt upon his departure. What is the saying? "History repeats iteself". Well Fall River residents, welcome to life in Christina, DE.

Anonymous said...

It is time to return to the srudture that served the system for decades. One superintendent, one asst superintendent, with secretarial staff in place at appropriate salary. Durfee does not need "associate principals" making $1oo,000+ per year...
it needs a vice principal for each grade,2 guidance counselors for each grade, middle school needs a principal, at least one vice principal and 2 guidance with nothing else, none of the dept heads, coaches, etc...buildings and grounds - cut it to the one person in charge with an assistant, like it was when the city had 39 schools, not the 15 it has now. First step - fire Fischer, then fire Sullivan, HR guy, Cindy Keane. Sell off the schools not in use, sell the 3 Ford 150's that cost 50 grand each. Mayor and employees need to renegotiate health insurance package - BCBS is too expensive, better deals can be made. Do this and school dept budget is back to normal and direct care services are saved "for the kids"...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Keri,You always sucked up to Fischer. He never did anything wrong in your eyes and you always defended his actions even when they were wrong! Exactly like what you are doing now...This IS Fischer's problem, he created most of it by creating jobs and hiring people when he well knew there was no money in the budget to pay them. You honestly think this is ok? If this was someone you didn't like, you would be all over it and if you were still on WSAR, it would be your breaking news story (again, if it was someone you didn't care for). It's amazing how you spin.
I have worked in several school systems and I have never seen the fat that FR School Dept has. No other systems have assistants to the assistants and so on and all making good salaries at that. It's no wonder why there is a huge budget problem. People need to wake up and realize this is only going to get worse. After this mess is resolved (how I don't know), the next thing that needs to be done is to get Fischer and all of his cronies out of this dept.

Anonymous said...

R + R + R = Education ...Any extras should be paid by those using the services ...If your kids wants to play a sport $250.00 an after school program $250.00

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:04
I believe at the meeting the other night, the mayor said that the old schools are the property of the city and they will be the city's to sell. I am unconvinced as to the mayor's commitment to education so that money could never be seen by the schools.

I agree with the basic tenor of what you say. The coaches and dept heads were ok when there was money, but coaches should be gone before vp's and guidance counselors.

Anonymous said...

Comment deleted
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:10 AM, October 18, 2008

Lefty,

my comment was related to the post
kaeam selecred fisher its a fact not an attack.

Anonymous said...

Please at this point, how can anyone including the presidents of universities, owners of radio stations, former talk radio hosts, and heads of the chamber of commerce defend Fischer? He knew what the budget was in the spring, ok so it was woefully low-- so AT THAT POINT you pull back. Don't wait until all the pieces are in place, and classrooms are of 30 students (unless you happen to be a child of an assistant superintendent, that is), don;t wait until the busses are running, and the students are in business classes at Durfee, sports have started, etc, to say we need money!!! Fischer and his so-called "Team" had the 82.2 figure in the spring. I don't want to hear anyone defend him at this time. He f***ed it up and now, EVERYONE except him is going to pay for it. First, Sullivan hired 22 administrators for Buildings and Grounds. We have 15 schools, that means they are doing NOTHING all day. Fischer, the mayor and the school committee must be held accountable for Sullivan's incompetence. Get rid of Sullivan first thing,then the excess principals at the high school, dept head of guidance, etc etc, etc,. I agree it worked for years and it can work again, of course you need more staff for the huge elementary schools than just principal. Maybe one vp and a counselor. That should do it. THE FAT IS NOT IN THE SCHOOL BUILDINGS!!!!! Fischer was allowed to create non-school non-union administrative positions to the tune of 5 million, now what is our deficit, 5 million!!! What a big surprise!!!!! IF FISCHER IS NOT THE ONE TO BLAME, THEN WHO WILL TAKE RESPONSIBILTY? I don't want to hear anyone defend him, it makes me sick, and Keri of all people should know the truth.

Anonymous said...

Principals love the coaches because it helps their jobs become easier in analyzing the data. Principals like having a counselor because they don't have time to deal with every little problem that comes along. Principals are supposed to be evaluating the teachers and doing all kinds of things that they never did when we were kids. It's a whole new world for them. they ALL work many hours overtime, like 80 hours a week, so I think they deserve their salary of 90 thousand or more. That is a killer job and you couldn't pay me enough to do it. If you have bad scores, you are history. The school dept is a mess, and don't look to the buildings to solve it. Look at the administration building. The staff in the schools is completely stretched as it is.

MortonMom said...

Does anyone know how many school committee meetings can be missed by a committe member? Are there any rules pertaining to this? How many votes can a school committee member miss before he is no longer an active member? Also, does anyone know who came in 6th in the last election for school committee?
Just curious.

Lefty said...

Anon 12:45 - I apologize. When I read it I assumed it was someone berating me for wanting this to stay on topic.

I am curious, how is Fischer Karam's pick? Where is the fact to back that up? I believe it is possible that Karam did favor Fischer and talked to various elected officials but how is it HIS pick?

Anon 11:04 - We may see 'pay services.' We might not have a choice! Let's hope they don't start charging a nickel for every sheet of paper!

Anon 11:29 - I really liked Eric Poulin's plan for selling off the school and having the real estate tax go to the school department. If there is any talk of selling the schools I hope some city councilors introduce this measure first!

Anon 2:20 - Dr. Fischer has a lot to answer for. I still say it's unfair to blame all of this on him. Who will take responsibility? Well Fischer should for the countless budget blunders and for NOW saying the money isn't enough! However, the Mayor and school committee also share in the blame. Bob set the number for the budget. Where did he come up with it? Was the reality of what it takes to run the department enter into his thinking? Did the committee members do any research to that effect?

I ask you this - IF Fisher had provided a budget that fit into Bob's cap, with all the cuts that that would entail. Think about it, all the cuts already made, all the cuts that will be made. What then? So this wouldn't be the big issue it is now, but our school system would be underfunded and unable to meet its mission. Who would you blame then? Because the reality is that is what is happening. Fischer should be blamed for the mistakes of his department. He should be blamed for not yelling and screaming and fighting for his department and every child in this city. Maybe he SHOULD be fired. But the other part of this is the Mayor and the school committee are showing a total lack of commitment to the health and future of our school department.

Interested in another view? Visit www.fallriverblog.com!

Anonymous said...

Lefty,

Thank you, my pointin regards to karam "picking" per se Fischer was there is just too much politics involved in this school budget mess. Should there be some kind of "arbitrator" in this, an outside set of eyes to look at the budget that was approved, what the real deficit is and then look at where to cut? Do we really trust fisher and the elected officials to make the decisions that affect the children and be objective?




Decisions are being made for political reasons.

As for fact, I'm sure there are records of Mr Karam being on the search committee. The point is there is too much conflict of interest on all sides of this issue.

Maybe Gus had the right idea.

For the full articles read go to:
http://archive.southcoasttoday.com/daily/02-97/02-22-97/c08lo121.htm
Fall River councilor sees conflict
Wants media members kicked off city boards
By Ric Oliveira, Standard-Times staff writer
FALL RIVER -- City Councilor Gus Suneson is questioning whether it is ethical to have members of the local news media serving on city boards, commissions and committees.
Mr. Suneson said he is going to file a resolution at Tuesday's City Council meeting that would prohibit the practice, calling it a question of media ethics and control.

However, Mr. Suneson declined to mention names of members of the media he wants removed.
"How can you be publicly critical of your decisions?" Mr. Suneson said yesterday, referring to journalists on city panels.
Mr. Suneson said several city boards have members who either work at local radio stations or other media outlets.
"I think it is an unhealthy situation," he said. "How can you report on yourself, whether it be radio, cable or if it happens in a newspaper?"
Mr. Suneson said the practice has gone on for several mayoral administrations.
He is asking the council and Mayor Edward Lambert Jr. to pass an ordinance urging "any person now involved in any of these city positions to graciously resign."


http://gussuneson.com/opinions-gus-has-one/letter-to-the-editor-hail-the-new-king-of-slots/

Letter to the Editor: Hail the New King of Slots

Remember the old saying “What is good for General Motors is good for America”? Now we have a new South Coast revised and updated version.


The new king of slot machines, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, has rewarded his two biggest cheerleaders and fund-raisers in the area two big “goodies” … slot machines and an executive appointment. Yes, Jim and Bob are beaming and overjoyed! Remember, what is good for the Karams is good for the South Coast.



Jim and Bob both served a total of 18 years on the Mass. Board of Trustees. It seems this is almost like a family business. Of course, owning the only English speaking radio station in the area does help in the selection process; as well as raising big bucks for elected officials.


Now, Jim Karam is back! Several weeks ago, brother Bobby, hosted a $28,000 fundraiser at the Venus De Milo for Governor Patrick, our new king of slots! The check cleared and … surprise, surprise … Jim again is appointed to the Board of Trustees!


However, remember, what is good for the Karams is good for the South Coast.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

To further the point above of an independent set of eyes perhaps we should look at what Fischers former school district did to get out ot the financial ruins he left there.

By the way this information was readily available public information had the "search" committee checked references.

Erin B




http://www.christina.k12.de.us/BudgetFinance/archive/2006/0613_Board_Cuts_Raises_for_Administrators.htm

Christina Board Cuts Raises for Administrators

The Christina School District Board of Education voted at a Board meeting on June 13 to remove $600,000 earmarked in next year’s budget for administrative pay increases. The money was set aside as part of a board policy approved in September 2005 on performance-based compensation. The $600,000 would have replaced the annual pay increase if professional goals were successfully met. A total of 138 school-based and central office administrators would have been eligible to receive performance-based pay increases in 2007 under this policy. These include the superintendent, central office administrators and specialists, and school principals and assistant principals. Administrators will not receive this compensation because of the Board’s action. The Board also voted to explore changes to the current policy as it is written.

Anonymous said...

How many people are employed under the "Buidlings and Grounds" dept in the school dept ? How many are needed ? They are not direct care employees "for the kids" and as such should be the first to go. Fischer and Mayo-Brown are the so-called leaders and therefore should be eliminated first. As far as pay cuts, it is politically popular idea but how many of you out there would take a cut honestly? The reminaing school level people are going to be left to do the jobs of two or three people and we are asking them to take a pay cut as well ? This just doesn't make sense. Most of those speaking out against the school employees are not school employees which is fine but look to yourselves, who would accept the cut, I know I wouldn't drive my truck more hours for less money. Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

I work in the schools so here's my perspective. The Leadership Team must go Monday nigt before anything else is done. All of them. Buildings and Grounds needs to be trimmed to bare bones level, i.e. buidling level custodians stay, carpenters, electricians stay, painters stay. One director.
Durfee's associate principals become vice principals. Middle school vice principals stay, Fischer already cut the second middle school VPs last year. Middle schools do not need department heads, redesign coaches, or deans of teaching and learning. Guidance is more direct service than most people realize, keep them. Bring some common sense to this mess. City drops the stormwater run off fees from school dept, gotta make sacrifices Bob. Sell the empty schools, sell off the $50,000 trucks. Vice principals in elementary schools, no way, they go. There is money to run this dept, get rid of Fischer's hires, Fischer's structures, and of course Fischer's team. We in the schools have been saying this for years, no one listened.

Anonymous said...

It;s time for an objective audit.


The stormwater fee is a good idea or spread it out over time, maybe they will find the money if they look again:


By Michael Holtzman
Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Oct 18, 2008 @ 08:10 PM

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fall River — At a time of nearly universal financial crisis, city officials seemed to have found a pot of tax gold.

Unexpectedly, department heads told the City Council last week that new growth tax revenues from the assessors office came in more than $700,000 above what they projected.

But the council, asked this week to use those funds for long-term school borrowing that Treasurer Dan Patton consolidated this spring, skeptically approved the windfall for the debt.

The vote was 5-4.

“There was an extra $700,000 in the budget for new growth and not one councilor was told about it?” Councilor Raymond E. Hague asked.

“We found out about this three weeks ago,” Acting City Administrator Alan A. Silva said.

“If you don’t approve the money, it’s not in the budget to pay these bills? I don’t get it,” Councilor Thomas F. Kozak said.

When Silva said he didn’t know at budget time about Patton’s plan for paying the long-term debt, Kozak suggested the administrator “get in the loop.”

Patton paraphrased his written explanation that his intention was to pay the $688,380 debt service — solely interest on this first year of a 20-year bond — by drawing 50 percent from one-time stabilization accounts and finding nearly $350,000 in budgeted accounts.

If the full amount were available in the budget, he would pay the entire interest on some $33.5 million in mostly school building costs from available funds, he said.

Asked to explain the windfall, Assessor Pamela Davis told the council the lion’s share came from business personal property taxes the city obtained through a five-year program “re-measuring and enlisting properties.” Many of those taxable items were not on the books, she said.

She said the city had spent additional funds to track personal property, and when questioned by Hague said she was not directed to take those initiatives.

“We really didn’t expect anything to this magnitude, especially with this market,” Davis said.
Patton, questioned afterward, said during the budget process new growth was estimated at $300,000 to $400,000. The new tax revenue budgeted was $449,153, an amount Hague said he questioned as low during budget reviews.

Patton said the new growth needs to be certified by the state Department of Revenue in the next few weeks, but he estimates it’s $1.3 million to 1.4 million.

Hague said Patton’s action to combine short-term borrowing into long-term at favorable rates “makes sense. ... I don’t agree with the administration’s plan to fund it,” he said, noting city jobs that have been cut back.

No councilor mentioned that the school department is in the process of cutting $3.5 million in budget shortfalls.

Councilor Cathy Ann Viveiros and Linda M. Pereira supported Patton’s recommendation. “I’m prepared to support it. It was an opportune time to convert it and get the best rates and terms, and that’s exactly what happened,” Viveiros said. “The intention was good.”

She said the council should discuss the new growth figures at another meeting when the administration is slated to provide its quarterly update.

Council President Joseph D. Camara said he had requested that update with the mayor’s office and was told their report would be ready for the next council meeting on Oct. 28.

Anonymous said...

Normally I agree with you Lefty, but we're not the ones making excuses anymore for disliking Fischer. It seems to be the new fad is not holding Fischer accountable, but rather defend him because he's SO accountable.

These shortfalls have nothing to do with the good Doctor's arrogance. They have everything to do with the fact that he's bloated the city's administrative staff with high paid friends and thought that these new High School sized Elementary School's would run themselves. At it would turn out, little kids need both teachers AND paras (especially since Fall River now has the most IEP children this side of Brockton). If he axes the admins, like Big Bob wants, and it doesn't work out...then oh well. I'd rather see them cut the fat of people who actually work with children than the people and programs that do.

No more excuses for Fischer and his refusal to let his precious admins go.

Anonymous said...

I've had it with people using the "Fischer may have screwed up....but...." arguement. He has persistantly messed up managing this department and cares more about his friends making money than keeping teachers in the classroom. Enough is enough.

When you think about the Titanic, you don't think "Yah, the Captain steered them into dangerous waters in the world's largest luxery liner. But damned if those iceburgs didn't at least try to get out of the way!"

That's all I got out of this blog, Lefty.

Anonymous said...

What do people think about the fact that teachers retire at 80% at age 55 and the rest of us work until about 67 and are lucky if we get about 40% of our working income? How about that retired school employees have the best health insurance that money can buy and pay 25%? The average citizen is paying for way better health insurance for the school department, fire department police, than what they receive themselves. The system is broke and out of control. Everyone is so quick to blame Fischer, the mayor, etc., but the system cannot go on the way it is going.

Anonymous said...

I think it is impossible to hold one person accountable. We need to make cuts, period. Some people will lose their jobs, some children will go without extras. Yes this is terrible but we need to stop bitching and get the system working again before we lose control of our schools completely. If you are unhappy with who is in charge keep it in mind when you vote instead of wasting your time trying to find a witch to burn.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Monday's school committee meeting is a continuation from last Thursday's meeting, or is it a new meeting? Will there be citizen input?

Anonymous said...

The mayor said it would be continued Monday, so I think NO citizen input.

Anonymous said...

no citizen input, meeting is to cut positions. as far as retirement benefits for teachers, don't complian about the deal, you too could have gone to college, earned the degrees and become a teacher, the retirement benefits are 80% at age 55 depedning on years of service and age. in regards to the finances, this budget mess is not the fault
of anyone who works in the schools with the kids, it is the fault of Nicholas Fischer, Cathy Macedo, Meg Mayo-Brown, Ed Lambert, Bob Corriea, the school department leadership team, and members of the school committee and city council, in addition the voters who did nothing about the people they (we) elected to serve and oversee our money. stop blaming people who have nothing to do with this mess, they are not responsible for the finances of the schools, the highest level administration is to blame. the teachers, vice principals, counselors, paras, will be losing their jobs due to the incompetence of others so put the blame where it belongs please.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:28. I have more than a college degree, so please do not make assumptions. I stand by the fact that the system is broken and that the public sector should not have earlier and better retirements and health insurance than the rest of us. This is a big part of what is killing our public schools. I love teachers. Most of the ones I have dealt with for my children have been nothing short of great, but it does not mean that they should not put into social security instead of pensions. I am thinking long term...beyond Monday. I think we all have to.

Anonymous said...

Teachers contribute 11% of their pay to their retirement, it is the only retirement system in the state that is making money and supporting itself, why should they have to change ? maybe the others should have followed the lead of those in charge of the MA teacher retirement system.....
the comment about college degrees is simple, you too could have gone into teaching but for whatever reason did not, it is very easy to blame the public sector at times like this, the employees are not the ones to blame, it is those in charge of the budgets who caused this mess

Anonymous said...

Do you actually think it is not a problem that people in Fall River public schools have the best health insurance going, which is mostly paid for by the taxpayers and they contribute much less than most people in the private sector, all the while the schools are crumbling around them? Is this the only part of the problem? Absolutely not, but it is part of it.

Anonymous said...

Of course no citizen input! Why would any members of the committee like to hear what parents, students, or organizations have to say. The Mayor was on WSAR with parent and stated that he has not hear from any parents regarding any cuts. How can he hear from parents if he does not allow citizens input. He further stated that the school department money from the state was 114 million. Why did he only give the school 82 or 83 million where is the rest of the money. We are charging schools, police and fire for storm water run off fees to the turn of a couple hundred thousand dollars. Are the schools paying for the vacant school building run off? If they are the school committee should transfer these buildings back to the City an the Couuncil can vote to sell them. I agree all money from the sale of these buildings needs to go to the school budget. This committee needs to make these decisions now.
So these funds can be used in this budget year.

Anonymous said...

My apologies the prior post should have read on WSAR with Barry. In to much of a hurry! Will proof read next time.

Anonymous said...

The comments from the mayor are the same on every issue. He goes on wsar and the (non screened)callers don't ask any tough questions. Then he says he has not heard anything negative from any taxpayers or parent or eachers. Same rhetoric differentissue. He will continue to ignore the wished of the taxpayers and do what is politically beneficial for himself.

That being said I agree with the statement below:

Anonymous said...
I think it is impossible to hold one person accountable. We need to make cuts, period. Some people will lose their jobs, some children will go without extras. Yes this is terrible but we need to stop bitching and get the system working again before we lose control of our schools completely. If you are unhappy with who is in charge keep it in mind when you vote instead of wasting your time trying to find a witch to burn

Anonymous said...

recall, recall, recall

Anonymous said...

The Mayor actually said on WSAR that he did not hear from many parents at the school committee meeting on Thurs. There was no citizen input at that meeting either. On the agenda it was noted "at the discretion of the chair", well, his discretion was not to have any! Then to go on the radio and insult parents who care deeply about all this, parents who are involved, parents who attend meetings...to make himself look better in all this he actually had to stoop to insulting the parents. He has already insulted the students with his condescending tone of "it's for the children"....see what's left for the children after tomorrow night!

Anonymous said...

cuts must be made but let's make sure the right cuts are made not the ones that seem to be the right ones in the opinion of alan silvia - start with the jobs that are not direct service to the kids, as mayor said "its about the kids", yeah sure it is bob, if that was the case why is nick fischer still employed ?

Anonymous said...

That is just amazing.

I guess it was another oversight that he forgot to mention he didn't let the citizens speak again! He couldn't fire fisher because he will lose the financial support from karam you know the owner of wsar, but that may change now that the voters are getting fed up correia may have to save himself politically.

Anonymous said...

There was citizen input 2 nights previously that went on for more than 2 hours. Do you guys go to the meetings? They can go until midnight when that happens. As someone who goes to meetings, I am glad people had their say earlier in the week, but I do not need to leave my kids at home to hear people go on and on for hours 2 nights a week. If people kept it brief, that would be great, but you always get those who do not care and are going to talk for 10 minutes and then have their child talk for 10 minutes. If people were not over the top, maybe I would agree, but I was thankful Thursday night.

Saying that, it is ridiculous for him to say he did not hear anything from parents Thursday night and if I hear "it's for the children again," I might have an unasked for outburst. Clearly getting rid of all vp's in middle schools and cutting down on guidance is not for the children.

Lefty said...

Okay, so what's the answer to the problem? Fire Fischer? Then what? How much admin can be cut before we hurt the school department? The number one question is still how much does it take to run this school department? If the budget just isn't enough than firing Fischer is not going to solve the problem.

Anonymous said...

The answer is all of the above.

If you can't manage the fiscal responsibilities than you need a superintendant and a CFO that can.

You won't know how much you need until you cut the fat and mismanagement. The school committee did sign the budget but my question is - when did the additional fees get put in the budget for the stormwater and insurance etc? Did it change after they approved it???

Anonymous said...

It appears as though the additional fees were put in the budget after it was voted on...the city council didn't vote on the stormwater runoff fees until mid-summer, I believe. Stormwater runoff fees were never mentioned in the school budget discussions in June. I find it surprising that not one member of the school committee has brought this up or questioned it. And, they are being charged for the old unused schools.

Anonymous said...

to lefty:
by cutting the leadership team you save about $700,000+. Yes that much. Fischer alone is making about 175,000 plus extras for travel, expenses, etc., figure close to $200,000 for him alone. Mayo-Brown is at about 120+,
Dennis Sullivan around 100,000, Martinson at another $100,000 or more...Cindy Keane at $100,000, Meg Christ $100,000. Slash the buses, most carry about 5 kids per
route to middle schools, they cost $50,000 each, so 3 buses per school, cut 2 for each middle school, we just found another $400,000. Hmmm, why couldn't Fischer have done this ? I am doing it for free !
Cut the building and facilities division to the director and one assistant saving another $250,000 at least. Then move to the schools. By cutting middle school v.p.s and guidance you are impacting the kids and teachers tremendously. The loss of these positions will impact ability of surviving people to keep schools running safely and effectively. The ones to cut are the people who do not deal with kids directly, dept heads, redesign coaches, coaches, the array of cafeteria supervisors, secretaries making $50,000. The stromwater runoff fee needs to be put aside. After the money is found and budget is repaired, find someone in the dept who can fill in as superintendent
until a competent one is found. We do not need Kean's position, Meg Christ's position (she is wife of some prominent bank official or chamber of commerce official, wonder why she's there ???)Dennis Sullivan is incompetent, gone ! Human Resources director, not needed, gone. Information Management, secretaries can do that, gone. SPED director, she's new and you have to have one, she stays, for now.
Some overpaid people remain but that can be worked out. and Mr. Mayor, the parents are watching, the taxpayers are watching, the voters are watching. We are not happy with you either.

Anonymous said...

Nick Christ is president of citizens union bank, a correia contributor and on the mayor's
financial task force to fixt the city finances !!!! and you don't think there is any collusion here??

Anonymous said...

anon 10:36
Maybe you should be the interim superintendent after we fire Fischer. All those are great cuts! I couldn't agree more. The bussing needs to be cut back to the state minimum. We are now bussing kids that live closer to school than the state requires. Middle school students are being picked up a 6:40AM and then sitting in the busses in front of the school until 7:20. A lot of kids are not taking the bus because of this, so you're right there's probably 5 kids on each bus. If Dennis Sullivan does not lose his job I think all the taxpayers of this city should hold a protest or riot or something. We need to do something to let the mayor especially, know that we are mad and we're not going to put up with this political bull****. These are our kids' futures that they are messing with!

Anonymous said...

The School Dept. budget is always passed before the city budget, because the school budget is part of the city budget. Than being said, both budgets begin to operate at the same time-July 1st.

So, even though the city budget included the funds for the stormwater fee before the ordinance was passed, I recall that the ordinance was retroactive dating back to July 1.

So, even though the school budget was passed before the stormwater fee, the concept that the fee would be included in the city budget was well known at the time, and the School Committee should have anticipated this additional expense.

As for an exemption for the School Dept., I don't see it happening because the Mayor and his administration are very reluctant to give exemptions. If he gives the School Dept. a break because of financial hardship, then others will want exemptions too.

While an exemption for the School Dept. would assist somewhat in managing this financial crisis, it wouldn't necessarily assist the Mayor who would then suffer a loss on the city side of the budget. In addition, the Mayor still faces the loss of revenue for the proposed exemption for those not connected to the sewer system.


Also, I'm not sure if Meg Christ is the spouse of Nicholas Christ, but she used to be the Principal of Doran before she became the Director of Instructional Services.

Anonymous said...

And Meg Christ has been in that job long before Correia, people.
Can't we just stick to the facts and how we get out of this situation without conspiracy theories? We have always had a Super and Asst since I can remember - Correiro and Gibney. Maybe people think we need new people, but some of those salaries are going to be incurred.
Does anyone know how much we can get from raising taxes without trying to override 2 1/2?

Anonymous said...

yes, meg christ was there but I agree, would she be making 100K if it were not for the husband being in on political things in the school dept? judge for yourself. others don't have a rapid rise to power like that. there are many principals that have been there over 30 years who were making 68,000 up until 2 years ago, while others who are relatively new (like meg christ) have gotten big and even bigger bucks right away. the evidence speaks for itself.

Anonymous said...

I think we can raise taxes 2% before you need a prop 2 1/2 override. The Mayor however has made a pledge not to raise taxes. We will never have any businesses located in an area with a failing school system and the lowest tax rate. We need the citizens to make an investment in Fall River Education.If our children get great educations and good jobs we will not need the vast amount of social service programs the taxpayers are now paying for.

Anonymous said...

I just did not know how much money that would translate to and can you do it again the next year? I know very little about the Prop 2 1/2.

Anonymous said...

A tax increase at a rate of 2% would result in millions of dollars for the City. If the tax rate was increased in cannot be more than 2 1/2% or the votes have to vote on an override.

Anonymous said...

I had heard that it would be less than 2 million and then we could not do it again next year, but I do not understand why you could not do it again next year, unless this is because of stipulation number 1.


Under Proposition 2½, a municipality is subject to two property tax limits:

1. Ceiling: The total annual property tax revenue raised by a municipality shall not exceed 2.5% of the assessed value of all taxable property contained in it.
2. Increase limit: The annual increase of property tax cannot exceed 2.5%, plus the amount attributable to taxes that are from new real property.

Anonymous said...

Which citizens of fall river should step up to the plate? The ones struggling to make ends meet, the elderly that don't have children in the school depts? Let's tax all the people unemployed in the city due to business leaving because we can't get our act together.

How about sticking to the facts-the budget was cut too much and there are too many political hirings. Take that out of the equation first then come back to us about raising taxes.

Anonymous said...

If the fact is the budget was cut too much, how do you propose that we not cut it too much while keeping the system in tact for our children? Do you think there is still $4M in political hirings of unneeded people in the system? I do not.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is $4m in political hirings , I said that was in the equation. If you actually think that there are not still political hirings still in the budget you need to look again.

1. defer stormwater fees
2. remove political hirings
3. cut positions not directly in contact with the children. Keep only absolutely needed amdinistrative positions.
4, learn fiscal management
5, Have fund raiser for those that want to contribute

THEN ASK THE TAXPAYERS FOR MORE BAILOUT MONEY.

Lefty said...

Anon 12:17

I'm on board! Now can we get a school committee member to say something to that effect?

Anonymous said...

We need to hold every elected official accountable for not stepping up to the plate and recommending common sense solutions,like above, to address this problem. Does anyone think the City should offer some money from free cash to help bailout the schools after the administrative cuts are made?

Anonymous said...

Lefty,

I forgot # 6 above but I don't know if it can be done:

Remove the insurance costs that the city added into the school budget and put it back into the city budget???

And for the fiscal management add in some type of objective versight commitee made up of non-political financial people. Even other city municipalities financial folks with municipal budget experience.

I would love to present to the school committee but there isn't public input is there?


Erin B

Anonymous said...

FallRiver Parents & Citizens for change seem to be in email contact with some school committe members.

Perhaps they could forward the comments?

Anonymous said...

Their e-mail address are on the Fall River Schools website and have of them are pretty responsive.

Anonymous said...

yes, meg christ was there but I agree, would she be making 100K if it were not for the husband being in on political things in the school dept? judge for yourself. others don't have a rapid rise to power like that. there are many principals that have been there over 30 years who were making 68,000 up until 2 years ago, while others who are relatively new (like meg christ) have gotten big and even bigger bucks right away. the evidence speaks for itself.


Let's start the donations here , you can try to tax the rest of us later:



Correia’s war chest tops list
http://www.heraldnews.com/archive/x477567517
Donors to Correia’s campaign include Jay Cashman, the former owner of the Shell Oil site at Weaver’s Cove, who contributed $500 — the maximum donation allowed under campaign finance laws.
Other donors include attorney Arthur Frank ($450), Fall River Ford owner Fernando Garcia ($500), University of Massachusetts Dartmouth President Jean F. MacCormack ($425), President and founder of First Bristol Corp. James Karam ($500), Karam Financial President Robert Karam ($500), Bristol Community College President John Sbrega ($125) and Citizens Union Savings Bank President Nicholas Christ ($200).
Correia also picked up donations from political action committees for the Massachusetts Beer Distributors, the Massachusetts Police Association and the National Association of Government Employees.
Correia also reported loaning himself $12,000 for his campaign. His largest reported expenditures included a $20,452 bill for a fundraiser at the Venus de Milo.

EB

Anonymous said...

http://www.efs2.cpf.state.ma.us/EFSprod/servlet/ContributionSearchExec

07/14/2006 Christ, Nicholas 278 Woodlawn St. Fall River, MA 02720 $100.00 Correia, Robert
12/29/2006 Christ, Nicholas 278 Woodlawn St. Fall River, MA 02720 $200.00 President Citizens Union Savings Bank Correia, Robert
04/11/2007 Christ, Nicholas 278 Woodlawn St. Fall River, MA 02720 $300.00 President Citizens Union Savings Bank Correia, Robert
02/27/2001 Christ, Nicholas 278 Woodlawn Street Fall River, MA 02720 $125.00 Correia, Robert
02/11/2002 Christ, Nicholas 278 Woodlawn Street Fall River, MA 02720 $125.00 Correia, Robert
02/12/2003 Christ, Nicholas 278 Woodlawn Street Fall River, MA 02720 $125.00 Correia, Robert
02/11/2004 Christ, Nicholas M. 278 Woodlawn Street Fall River, MA 02720 $125.00 Correia, Robert
01/26/2005 Christ, Nicholas M. 278 Woodlawn Street Fall River, MA 02720 $125.00 Correia, Robert
01/31/2007 Christ, Nicholas M. 278 Woodlawn Street Fall River, MA 02720 $200.00 President Citizens Union Savings Bank Correia, Robert

Anonymous said...

think the Christ family donations paid off ? and now we know why Correia voted to keep Fischer, good thing there was no political pressure ! If Fischer and his team are still in place after tonight but direct service people are let go, it is time for the recall vote to get rid of correia.

Anonymous said...

Only in Fall River would Alan Silvia make arbitrary cuts to school dept personnel without consulting school principals to determine which positions were most needed, would the superintendent keep his job after causing a 3.5 million dollar budget disaster and ignoring the directives of the school committee he works for. Only in Fall River would direct care personnel be cut from schools before buildings and facilities personnel. Only in Fall River would the mayor support such cuts. Only in Fall River would and entire leasdership team be allowed to remain after such a demonstration of imcompetence. Only in Fall River would there be more buildings and facilities employees when we have 15 schools than when we had 38. Only in Fall River wold the mayor approve a school dept budget then add to it causing it to go in the hole then layoff school based personnel to balance the budget while saying we are a city that is "for the kids".
Only in Fall River would the Mayor complain about the pays of secretaries then hire his daughter's friend to be his driver for $50,000 a year. Only in Fall River would buses be allowed to keep running with only 3 kids on them and continue to do so while laying off school based personnel while keeping buildings and facilities personnel. Only in Fall River would the Mayor propose cutting pay by 20% of the secretary who was coerced into taking the trasnportation coordinator job after when she did not want the job in the first place yet the superintendent who caused the budget mess not only keeps his job but only gets a 5% cut, maybe..... only in Fall River would the mayor charge people not connected to a sewer a sewer runoff fee and charge city agencies the fee as well....
and of course only in Fall River would all this really happen for real
.....Gotta love it.

Anonymous said...

What happened at the meeting, the herald reported they had not come to a decision who and what was actually cut?

Anonymous said...

the herald's last report was at 10:09 p.m., either the cuts were horrific and they don;t want to report it or the cuts were not made and they don;t want to report it...

Anonymous said...

The cuts were not substantial but it was after press time. They cut maybe 15 positions. Left many clerk/secretarial types that they could have cut. They cut Martinson, but not Keene. Costa, McCoy and the mayor voted to cut most positions. Aguiar and Cadime pretty much voted no on all. The ones that were cut were because Martins and/or Roderick said yes. Roderick did more often than Martins. Costa and McCoy did go against cutting vp's, adj counselors, guidance and the AD as I recall. Maybe some others. I left after they went down the list. I am sure the mayor was not happy. They might have cut 1 million in those jobs. Not sure if they did more or what.

Anonymous said...

the mayor announced that only less than $300,000 was cut. I was pleased that they didn't cut out the building level staff, but I don't get why they still left all those newly hired admin positions in bldgs and grounds!!!!! That dept is bleeding the system dry. There is a lot more to cut there. Then the mayor will see to it that Sullivan is fired and he will put his own guy in immediately if not sooner.

Anonymous said...

The school committee needs to cut buildings and grounds as soon as possible. We don't need all this personnel with less buildings to maintain. They also need to transfer the closed school buildings to the City so they can be sold and the monies used to increase the school department budget. This is the first time in years that the City has not given the school department money to help fund education. We will soon see the affects of these foolish decisions in the quality of education.

Anonymous said...

I'm embarrassed to live in this town. Look at all the empty storefronts, "for sale", "out of business", etc. It will only gt worse. Not only will rats be occupying abandoned buildings, people will too, if they are not already. Yes, this does speak to education, because we are in a community that does not place much value on education. This school budget is an absolute mess. I keep hearing about accountability, but where is it, really? Has anyone yet been held accountable for grave errors? Not that I have seen. The school committee can't even do their job to make the necessary cuts. As all the kids in the school system move through in the next several years, with the MCAS scores and literacy rates the way they are, underperforming schools, what do people really think the future of Fall River is? Sorry, no "restaurant row"...maybe "dollar store row". I used to think that with huge effort on the part of parents and kids, a decent education could be had in the Fall River public schools. But, with the current situation and necessary cuts, problems will be come issues of safety, the environment of learning that has been created will be more one of chaos, and is in some schools already as I understand. It's headed down the tubes. How do I subject my kids to this? I don't even see any economic promise in this community. It's time to get out.

Anonymous said...

The school committee needs to cut buildings and grounds as soon as possible. We don't need all this personnel with less buildings to maintain. They also need to transfer the closed school buildings to the City so they can be sold and the monies used to increase the school department budget. This is the first time in years that the City has not given the school department money to help fund education. We will soon see the affects of these foolish decisions in the quality of education.

I believe if you watch one of the previous meetings correia said to sell the schools back to stop the cost of keeping them but that the money actually"has" to goe back into a capital fund and not the school budget.

So we have a few rubber stamp groups on this committee-the mayor has a few to vote with him and others don't know what to vote for.

Question: Exactly who was cut and who was not touched. Will we receive a list with the net savings and their position/seniority ? How did they determine which clericl were let go-last hired (after the hiring freeze) Joe Camara's sister in law was she let go???

Any thoughts on the added city Personnel and part-time Labor Lawyer for 75k ??? Think there is any union breaking going on???
ErinB

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

The money for the sale of these buildings does go back to the City side. But I think the council can vote an appropriation to the school department if the request is made by the school committee or the Mayor to increase the budget. We need to make sure that our children are receiving a quality education by continuing to fight the system to assure that they get it!!

Anonymous said...

I hope there is union breaking going on. They had their day 60 years ago, but not anymore.

They cut some clerk positions. The names next to them are not the people who will lose their jobs. There will be bumping and least senior people will go, just like other union positions.

Anonymous said...

You need to watch the school committee meeting again where the mayor says the money will not go back to the schools from the sale of the schools. It is a telling statement.

I hope the cuts are done by seniority. My point was is this another manuever by the city to get an up in union negotiations?

ErinB

Anonymous said...

I listened to Mark Costa on WSAR for as long as I could. His lack of backbone and the two talking heads discussing things such as impact bargining which they clearly don't understand was more than I could bear.

I find it interesting that the Mayor and the School Committee are now turning to the teachers. For the last three years the Superintendent and his underlyings have repeatedly violated the teachers' contract resulting in a record number of grievance actions. They have tried to manage the school system by intimidating young teachers. One artbitration award against the administration was more than $20,000.
At a time when the help of the Fall River Educators Association is clearly needed, a middle school principal forced the President of the FREA to leave a school last Friday in direct violation of Chapter 150E of state labor law.

The school department saved over 1.7 million dollars last June when it laid off 39 classroom teachers. Now the Mayor is looking for more to bail out his politically driven bottom line. Teachers would be well within their rights to say, "It's your mess you fix it!'

Anonymous said...

Teachers would be well within their right to say it's your mess so fix it but I hope they won't. That type of attitude is the wrong one to have in this crisis. Anyone carrying that type of attitude will hurt the efforts to plug the budget gap. Everyone needs to pitch in and do what they can to solve this mess and put politics and petty bickering aside but so far the School Committe hasn't been able to put politics or petty bickering aside. I hope that the teachers and anyone else do not start to follow their example.

We need to push the Committee to stop the politics and bickering and teachers and everyone else should do the same. Our leaders are supposed to lead by example but unfortunately with our Mayor and some on the School Committe and City Council that hasn't been the case. We the people will have to speak during input time if they ever allow any and will have to be classy and constructive with our comments and if our politicians don't get it we can vote them out in 2009.

The problem in Fall River is that we say we want change and an end to the status quo but then every election we elect the same people over and over again. It's a recipe for the type of disaster that is going on right now.

Anonymous said...

what no "pride city wide" ? no "believe and we will succeed" ?
total incompetence from the 6th floor of city hall to every floor at Rock street.....keeping supervisors of custodians and cutting direct care personnel in school buidlings who work with kids and parents everyday...RECALL ELECTION TIME...can we get someone who has some stones to throw out fischer, mayo-brown, christ, sullivan, correia please ?

Anonymous said...

I know, and we thought "We'll Try" was embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

They are going to try their little "impact bargaining" soon. Teachers give up nothing. Other unions follow the teachers. no union should vote until the teachers vote first. Solidarity. He's hiring on the city side while laying off and reducing pays for the school side. Don't buy it.

Anonymous said...

recall Mayor Robert Correia - he is not fit to lead !

Anonymous said...

We are tired of being pawns in this fight between the mayor and the school department administration. Building level administration is direct care / direct service to the students and families of Fall River. Find your cuts in the positions that are not direct care / direct service.

Anonymous said...

Bringing out Lizzie's axe.
Is this why Oliveira got the look "of death " as he called it on the radio this morning from Fischer. Hard to blame Fischer for being upset.

http://www.ojornal.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=20173348&BRD=2677&PAG=461&dept_id=543384&rfi=6

Anonymous said...

follow the breadcrumbs fischer, the mayor, and ric oliveria who works for wsar and karam. I hope
Ric is staying objective here, he usually does.

Anonymous said...

there is a movement afoot and petition drive to stop the lowering of heat for the schools. All we heard about was "this is about the kids and put the kids first and then what do they do? They cut the heat for the KIDS!!!
Unbelievable. Committee members who voted to cut the heat, Cadime,Roderick, McCoy and Aguiar. will people put the heat on them?

Anonymous said...

Changing the temperature of the school by 1 or 2 degrees is not going to adversely affect students. I don't think anyone can tell the difference of 2 degrees.

Anonymous said...

the heat in most of these "modern", "state of the art" buildings fluctuates from one room to another, dropping the temperature one or two degrees is not a big deal, the kids can do what we all did, wear a sweater! Stop babying the kids, they can handle a couple of degrees.

Anonymous said...

I hear all these people talking about school department employees taking a pay cut but I rarely hear about anyone in the private sector giving up their pay, school employees pay taxes too so in essence they are helping to pay their own salaries. Would Joe the Plumber take less money ? Of course not. We hear the mayor saying its about the kids, well if that's the case then why are employees who are directly service personnel being cut AND survivors are then asked to take cuts in pay yet will have to do more work to maintain the services to the kids ?
Try these pay packages on for size:
Nick Fischer $202,562
Meg Mayo-Brown $134,753
Cindy Keane $ 112,596 a position that was supposed to be eliminated upon the retirement of Dr. Costar..
Adam Sedlow $113,785
Dennis Sullivan $129,097
Margaret Christ $ 101,260
Betty Yokell $110,232
Cathy Macedo (former CFO who quit before this all hit the fan and she would have to face the music directly) $116,699
total - $904,285 (not counting Macedo)
NOT ONE of these people perform direct service work to the children of the Fall River Schools. Are their positions important ? Maybe, but let's remember what the Mayor said, "it's about the kids".

Anonymous said...

I was listening to Hurricane's interview of Kevin Aguiar. They said that Dan Rapoza, the former school dept head of buildings and grounds is now working as a legislative aide for Aguiar. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

what's so interesting, a retired guy took a legilsative aide job, yaaaaaaaaaawn! Come off it already--please find an issue!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I also listened to the Hurricane interview Aguiar. Herren cut him off while he was trying to make a point. The point was that the schools have been forced into using their adjustment counselors to do all of the things that the laid off paras once did. Aguiar was making the point not to get sympathy for these poor counselors, but to highlight that the counselors are not doing their counseling jobs full time because they are not available to be at their posts.His point was that this is a poor use of funds. The paras need to be in the schools and doing those jobs they were hired to do, and that will free up the counselors to go and do the jobs that they are being paid very well to do. And meanwhile the kids don't get the needed services from the counselor. Hurricane just cut him off by saying that he has no sympathy for the guidance counselors.I don't think these people are looking for sympathy, but it is stupid to be laying off paras and replacing them with higher paid staff.

Anonymous said...

Lefty,

The way the progress on this issue is going you may have to keep this post open until the 2009 election!!!!

EB

Lefty said...

I know!

The situation is so bad that I'm sure at some point I'll end up doing another school post!

I've been reading everyones comment and wish I had more to say. I think we're making cuts that we're going to be sorry for in the very near future. We're not solving problems, just postponing them and maybe creating new ones.

Anonymous said...

Minim Housing Stadnards for temperatures for public housing, edlerly housing and landlord controlled heating units for apartments - 68 degrees. Lower than that can lead you to charges of neglect.

Temperature for our school kids, set by School Committee members Aguiar, Cadime, Mccoy and Roderick
65 degrees.
Can we cahrge them with neglect?

Anonymous said...

Lefty,

After the school post maybe you should re-visit this post. It's interesting to look back. Hindsight is 20/20.

http://aviewfrombattleshipcove.blogspot.com/2006/10/who-should-be-mayor.html

Anonymous said...

That's a bit much, don't you think. Sixty five is hardly what I would call neglect. The kids will be fine, their not orchids! When we hyperfocus on one thing I feel we lose sight of the larger picture. Who you think is responsible is irrelevant right now. The cuts have to be made, remember who had a hand in this mess when you are Voting!

Anonymous said...

perhaps you think it is a bit much because you dont' have kids in school who were alredy complaining about being cold before the cuts.

How insensitive and truly cold of you. Which of the promoters of this policy are you supporting and which areas do you keep warm for them?

It is beyond ridiculous that rather than offset the $60,000 in heat costs, we would not charge for the use of the tennis courts at durfee, the soccer fields, hold a cake sale, or have a public tar and feathering auction for fischer and others.

Kids first my ass. This is save your favorite golumn first.

HC

Anonymous said...

I have two children currently attending FR public schools at the elementary level. No my children have not complained about being cold, probably because it is only the middle of October. But then again I try and reassure them that their school will come out OK during this difficult time instead of suggesting the use of bizarre medieval social justice. Golumn? Did I mistakenly post at the dungeons and dragons blog? Again, if you are so unhappy Vote accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Do people vote in Fall River? You get 10 adults from Fall River in a room and maybe 2 or 3 of them vote. Way to rock the vote people! And you wonder why Fall River is about 30 years behind of most everywhere else? Maybe because the 2 or 3 people who turn out have voted for the same people for the last 20 or 30 years? You think? You get the government that you vote for, you can think that Fall River deserves better but it appears you get exactly what you deserve!

Anonymous said...

hey anon 3:16 10/24, where did you grow up ? your parents never turned the thermostat down to save on fuel bills ? Send the kids to school in a sweater, they'll be fine, their precious little fingers and toes won't fall off in the frigid 65 degree temperatures. The thermostat has not been turned on in my house yet, an electric heater, an extra blanket, and bundle up a bit. Watching kids show up at schools in t-shirts and shorts when its 30 degrees is sickening when they hop out of their parents' cars yet people are complaining about the temperatures being set at 65. Give me a break, find something else to whine about.

Anonymous said...

putting any credence into any opinion of mike herren's is a waste of time, it is well known that the only reason he made it through durfee was due to his ability to play basketball and it was his behavior that got him thrown out of Boston College, the karams and his father saved his butt and kept him out of jail when he was at durfee and the abuser in his abusive relationships. someone at WSAR needs to teach him that on those rare occasions when he is not talking, if thats what we call it, he does not need to breathe into the microphone to let us know he is still there...his show is listened to not for his abilities as a radio host but to listen to the linguistic escapades he engages in every afternoon with his merry band of fools. why anyone subjects themself to time in the studio with him is beyond me, he must have pictures of the entire karam family naked to remain on the air for as long as he has.....

Anonymous said...

my thermostat is off, temp is 64, OMG we're all gonna die !!!!
fire leadership team stop arguing over foolish things and fix budget

Anonymous said...

I'm upset and I'll tell you why. The mayor is right when he says that the numbers are "soft". I am not a fan of the mayor, but on this I agree with him. You will never see happen what they are proposing in this school department. Fischer, Meg mayo Brown, Keene, Sullivan, etc., the whole lot of them are not budget people by their own admission. NOW, comes the transfer to grants; Mayo Brown is NOT willing to stake her job on being able to do that, SO that's a big clue. That ain't happenin. Next, she wants to be the next superintendent, that MAY happen, but this is not helping her. Neither is the blatant favoritism that she is giving to the Silvia School and her precious little children's classrooms. Meg Christ is going nowhere except up. Period, with the husband's bank and chamber of commerce, campaign contributions, etc., that girl is staying. Politics as usual. Keene is retiring, she will not be replaced. God knows why they are keeping Sullivan, he will probably get fired for cause after the transportation budget can't produce the $500,000 savings he predicts. I wouldn't trust him with one dollar. After he's gone, the mayor will put his own people in the school department. That is what this whole thing is about. He is pissed off because by ed reform law, he does not have control over the school department budget. He has found a way to successfully infiltrate the school department. This has not been done in recent history. Do not underestimate this mayor. I think you will see no raises for a long time here, and if this pay cut goes through, I think you will see another one, two, or three down the road. The mayor thinks teachers and counselors make too much money. He thinks people are sitting on their asses all day and collecting their fat paychecks and benefits. He resents the fact that the school system is half of the city budget. He is always praising his little puppet Raquel P for working two jobs with no extra money. Believe me, there is something in it for her. All I can say is this mess is not over, there is no way these soft figures are going to fly. Look out people, time to retire if you're old, resign if you are young, go to another community, it's gonna be a tough next few years. But the administrators at the tippity top got to keep everything. All they lost was the HR position.

Anonymous said...

anon 11:21 you know your stuff, you know how things are running, this is all about the mayor wanting control, to see him scold the audience at mtgs is scary, he really thinks he is smarter than all of us, i think he should be referred to as czar bob...he still sees the schools as they were when he was a teacher decades ago and does nto have a firm grip on reality, scary

Anonymous said...

First of all pellerin was promoted to the 80k salary, not sure what she made before maybe 50?? On wsar he made the comment he would like to consolidate the dept's , perhaps with the city side??? and eliminate the cfo (100K) and facilities? because pellerin and pacheco and champendail on the city side took on added responsibility with no pay increase. That is admirable but I have done this in the private sector. However, there is always a payoff- they will receive another promotion and pay increase eventually. I am sure they are not entireley doing this out of the goodness of their hearts.

So what happens? Pellerin gets another 20K or so to oversee both the city and school dept and Ken Pacheco does the same with facilities.

listen to it on wsar.com towards the end of the mayors interview and decide for yourself. You have to listen and read between the lines!

Anonymous said...

its all about control, you only have to look to the fiasco with the fire chief to have proof...correia wants his people in charge, people he can control that's all this is, he set up the school dept by adding health insurance to the budget late in the game then threw in the stormwater fees after the budget was done, fischer and his team should be fired of course but don;t let anyone fool you, this is an old fashioned tamany hall style political scheme to gain control over everything...and like tamany hall it will come unglued and the players will be exposed for what they really are - crooked politicians

Anonymous said...

Not sure if this mayor is staying, I heard the Karams told him it was only for one term. If he stays, this all will happen, and he will be the king of the world and ruler of the universe, a lofty place for him to sit and observe what he controls.

Anonymous said...

One thing for sure is that we are dealing with an experienced pol, he knows how to set it all up and watch it come down. His plan of course would be to save the day before it happens, he is on a huge power trip and quite successful too!! AND no end in sight. Actually Ed Reform was made law just to prevent this from happening, but Correia has outsmarted even the Ed Reform bill and achieved the ultimate power. Pretty scary stuff. No one wants him for an enemy. The superintendent is history unless the Karams want him to stay.If it were up to Correia alone, he'd be gone tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I heard the interview replay on the radio station podcast. It is clear that the mayor was quite offended that the super went to the individual school cmte members to lobby for the proposal which passed. It seems like they are at war. Correia will find a way to screw the school dept. I just wish he screws the right people, and that more teachers and lower paid people don't lose jobs or be made to take salary cuts. I hate this mess. This was all caused by Fischer and Meg M-B. We never had this mess before. too many big jobs which eat up the budget, then comes overcrowded classes and extra responsibilities for all building staff while they sit back and protect their big jobs, disgusting.I do think the mayor was right to try to cut those high level jobs. The people who voted against the mayor just grew some balls in my eyes. He'll definitely get them for it. Watch Mark Costa get rewarded though, all his votes are with the mayor.

General said...

Remember, during the campaign Correia promised that he would have the city CFO position paid by private businesses in Fall River.

The date of the article is 10-31-2007 and the title of the article is:

Correia sees collaboration as key to economy

The problem is this is one of those articles that cannot be found on-line, but you can always go to the Library archives and retrieve it.

In it he stated that he would Offer tax breaks to companies that would be willing to finance the position of chief financial officer for the city. That person would be available to provide financial advice to companies so they can maintain effective operations.

Anonymous said...

Anon,

I don't follow your logic below?
The mayor has announced he is running for re-election. If he stays , what will happen??????

Not sure if this mayor is staying, I heard the Karams told him it was only for one term. If he stays, this all will happen, and he will be the king of the world and ruler of the universe, a lofty place for him to sit and observe what he controls.


General, That is interesting that you can't find that information on line. The problem in 2009 for all these politicians is that finally the public information is available on line and it can't be controlled by the Herald News and Wsar. In past elections information was filtered and the media only published what they wanted to .

Anonymous said...

and the 30% of voters who bother to show up next year, 20% will vote for Correia and all the incumbents. Fall River will stay the same way it was 30 years ago when Correia was elected the very first time, poor and impoverished, a struggling school system, crime, a depressed economy and above average unemployment. What are the voters going to do about it? Nothing! Fall River loves its downtrodden image too much.

Anonymous said...

General was that article in the herald news????

Anonymous said...

Yes, what I mean is that if he stays for another term, he will be controlling not only the city, but also the school department. That is what I mean. Traditionally, there was at least some appearance of a separation there, if at least for show. This mayor is outright taking over every department and is blatant about it. It is against the law, by the way, for the municipality to control the school budget line item by line item. That was the purpose of the Ed Reform bill. To de-politicize school departments, have "Site-based Management", and to make people accountable to those they serve, not political bosses. I am not sure that anyone who runs against this mayor has a chance of winning. Therefore, his kingdom grows and grows.

General said...

Yes, it was in the Herald News, I kept a copy of it. I gave the date and title. Not all articles can be found online at the Herald News. I am not sure of the page, but that is the date and title.

I believe that promise, if enacted, would be a conflict of interest.

Anonymous said...

This mayor does not care about conflicts of interest, breaking the law, or violating union contracts. He cares about gaining ultimate control.And he seems to be getting away with it.

Anonymous said...

The electorate in this city needs to begin standing up for themselves and not be afraid to voice their opinions. The education of the children in this city should be the Mayor's biggest concern without successfully educating our youth we can forget about economic development. The community learning centers that the Mayor will be spending taxpayer dollars on would not be needed if we can get it right the first time! I would also like to know out of what budget are these community learning centers going to be paid out of. How about a poll rating the mayor's popularity!

Anonymous said...

Freetown -
An accounts manager for Fall River Public Schools has been appointed by the Personnel Board to become the new town accountant.
Pending successful negotiations, Raquel Pellerin will fill the shoes of longtime Town Accountant Steve Dooney, who resigned officially in October.
The Brockton-based accounting firm, Thevenin Lynch and Bienvenue LLP certified public accountants conducted accounting services for the town at the tail end of last year while the Personnel Board searched for a new accountant.
Before that, Pam Sousa, a senior clerk in the accountant department, served as interim accountant. She later stepped down from that role.
While officials were searching for Dooneys more permanent replacement, they warned about the potential financial effects of not having a full-time accountant at Town Hall.
Pellerin, of Fall River, could not be reached for comment. But according to her rsum at the Personnel Board office, she has served as accounts manager-grants for the Fall River Pubic School System since 2002. She has coordinated and directed the preparation of a $16 million budget and provided financial forecasts.
Also according to her rsum, she has also served as a financial visionary to a leadership team presenting key opportunities, capitalizing on local partnerships, identifying strategies and funding sources available to the district.
Previously, she had served as assistant grant manager for Fall River Public Schools.
She had also served as a senior account clerk from 1995 to 1999 for the City of Fall Rivers auditors office.
Having a new Town Accountant means that well get back to the business of running our finances internally instead of having an outside firm doing it. I also would expect that Ms. Pellerin will bring new ideas to table and take a good look at our existing procedures and find ways to improve them, Selectmen Chairman Lawrence N. Ashley said in an e-mail about her pending appointment.
Additionally, our accounting software is very old, and I would expect that we will not only be updating the software but also purchasing software that will tie the finances of each department together. At the moment, not all departments are able to interact with each other. This just adds to the difficulty of tracking finances in a year already overloaded with financial difficulties.

Anonymous said...

We have now reached the point of trying to get blood from a stone. Teachers have had no say in decision making since Dr. Fischer arrived three years ago. Now School Committee members like Mr. Cadime want teachers to help pay the bills through impact bargaining. Did he forget that the city already cut over 1.7 million dollars last June when they laid off teachers? Mr. Cadime, you want more? I wouldn't hold your breath waiting.

Anonymous said...

The following email was sent today to all school department employees:

Good Day Everyone,


I realize that all of us have been going through a difficult and trying time and I wish I could tell you it is over. As I stated at the school committee meeting it has been my intention to resolve this fiscal problem once and for all. I though it was resolved In June, and now I find we are going through the same kind of process. I feel compelled to share my concerns regarding the proposed School Committee reduction plan and hoped that I could embrace it.

The following memorandum from my City Administrator clearly articulates the concerns I have for that deficit reduction plan. Many individuals quoted Mr. Silvia's numbers without asking him what they truly reflected and that is why I feel this memorandum is important for you to receive. The "cloud of uncertainly" that hangs over us will not disappear because of words alone. The numbers truly must balance. And, I realize fully that behind those numbers ore the names and faces of people, some of whom I know.

My hope is as yours, that we can resolve these budgetary problems quickly, effectively and with the greatest degree of certainly.


Mayor Robert Correia

- - - - - - - - - - -


DATE: October 23, 2008


INFORMATION MEMORANDUM FOR THE MAYOR


FROM: City Administrator


SUBJECT: School Committee Deficit Reduction Plan



At your request, I have been collaborating closely with members of the School Committee, the School Administration, and various principals to ascertain the dimensions of the School Department's deficit for FY 2009, to provide concrete proposals for net savings (scrutinizing each line-item to determine reasonable cuts and additional unfunded or underfunded requirements), and to assess in detail various proposals to ensure the reasonability of estimates. I also worked with the City Auditor to understand and determine the existence and depth of the FY 2008 budget deficit.


In the determination of the deficit, I sought to quantify the FTE level of each school or cost-center, the extent to which they exceeded personnel levels, base salary amounts, and/or benefit amounts. I also "scrubbed" general expenses (such as unemployment, workers' compensation, retirees' group insurance, etc.) that were not allocated to specific schools or departments.


As of October 6, the deficit amounted to $3,505,390 initial deficit. Subsequently, I identified non-position specific base salary and expense changes --- including $1,169,964 in cuts and $557,087 in additional requirements that would add to the deficit --- that netted out to $612,877 in cuts. I arrayed the initial deficit and the proposed reductions by cost-center and line-items to ease in the recasting of the budget and transfer among cost-centers.


Literally, hundreds of hours have been expended on identifying and resolving the deficit on the part of the City Auditor, Director of Management, Budget, and Accountability, the City Administrator, and our staffs. It is with a profound sense of disappointment that we were not able to verify, evaluate, or score for budget purposes the "School Committee Deficit Reduction Plan", parts of which were attributed to my previous analyses and taken out of the context of a coherent, comprehensive, and interrelated plan to address the deficit.


I would like to take this opportunity to comment on the various components of the "Plan" in some detail.


a. $600,000 Transfer to Grant Funding.

The only item that can currently be offset against Federal Grants is retiree group insurance, to the extent that such retirees worked on a grant before retirement, that only the actual group insurance costs are assessed, and that a protocol is established that links past work on a grant to retiree benefits on a one for one-year match. To date, we have been able to identify $125,000 in grant retiree benefits, but the School Administration has not been able to verify funding availability within specific grants.


The residual $450,000 in transfer of personnel to grants: (a) lacks specificity and detail (some grants may not have the funding for both retiree benefits and dislocated personnel); (b) appears to be "putting the cart before the horse" (i.e., positions should be eliminated irrespective of whether a grant can finance them); and (c) the fact that a person is in the budget, is paid from the General Fund, and is converted to grant funding in substantially the same or similar position is an a priori subterfuge that cannot survive the supplement/supplant test. Not only is pre-approval required by DoE, but post audit may determine that the person was inappropriately charged to the grant and refunds would be required.


b. $175,000 Revolving Account for Insurance for Retirees.
Possible. I had identified $175,000 in group insurance costs associated with School Lunch Revolving Fund. This would require increases in the school lunch prices and cuts in staff (hopefully at the administrative, not direct-service level).


c. $80,000 Freeze of Textbook Account.

Possible. I had projected a 10% reduction in the $500,000 textbook account. With $83,000 unencumbered/unspent, this $80,000 is reasonable.


d. $400,000 Reduction in Middle School Staff - 9 Teachers.

Not possible. On the morning of October 22, I scored the projected savings of 9 teachers and 1 para that was presented by Central Administration (which forwarded principal suggestions). The "savings" included 1 retirement and 2 vacancies that were already abolished and considered within the $3.5 million deficit number. The remaining 7 positions yielded $159,538.69, inclusive of unemployment and bump differential; thus, a $400,000 cut would cost 16-17 teacher positions (or 4 per middle school) and would have a direct impact on instruction. Nine teachers would equal $209,233 in savings.


I believe that a reduction of direct instructional staff, without first starting with administrators at the middle school level, would be counterproductive to any successful efforts at impact bargaining.


e. $400,000 Reduction in Durfee Staff - 16 Teachers.


Possible. On the morning of October 22, I scored the projected savings of 15 teachers and 1 long-term substitute that was presented by Central Administration (which forwarded Mr. Olsen's suggestions). $400,000 can indeed be realized, but only if entire departments are eliminated; a more surgical approach, cutting a teacher from each department, may have less impact on instruction. The high school has a large number of administrators; unless cuts start there, I doubt the success of any impact bargaining effort.


f. $500,000 Transportation Consolidation.

Questionable. F&O management has yet to indicate the cost of the first month of transportation; absent these actual costs, it is difficult to evaluate the consolidation proposal. In my analysis, I believed that perhaps a $400,000 would be possible; after reviewing the consolidation plan, I am concerned that elimination of some Durfee after-school routes is based on " ridership" during an initial 4 to 6-week period and that cuts would be self-fulfilling prophecies that after-school opportunities will be limited by cuts in routes, rather than ridership dictating the level of service. I am also concerned that reduction in SPED transportation may not be sustainable in face of IEPs, parents' expectations, and additional SPED enrollment.


My comfort level is more in the $400,000 range than $500,000 --- and then only if the plan is spelled out in sufficient detail so that School Committee members understand exactly what routes are going to be consolidated, impacted parents informed in advance, and public input solicited.


g. $289,000 Cuts Previously Made on 10-20-08.

Needs to be implemented - QUICKLY. The savings is correctly estimated, if personnel are no longer on the payroll after October 31. Employees reduced in force should be provided the option to retire or resign prior to October 31, in order to be paid for sick leave buy-back, rather than unemployment compensation. If a person retires, the group insurance benefits cannot be scored as a savings, as they must be transferred from active to inactive Group Insurance accounts.


h. $60,000 Reduction in Set Point Temperatures At All Schools.

Questionable. Altering the temperature a few degree will save some funds, though it begs the question whether you have enough money to heat the building from an outside temperature of 35 to an internal temperature of 65 (rather than 68). In addition to the $3.5 million deficit, in my additional changes/reduction plan, I identified $30,000 MORE needed for Letourneau and Viveiros Schools in energy costs and a savings of $178,000 ONLY IF vacant buildings were winterized and transferred to the City. The entire question of energy needs to be viewed as a comprehensive whole, not selectively choosing a cut here or there without considering interaction within the entire sector.


i. $200,000 Expense Reduction.


Doable, but not enough. Lacks specificity. It is impossible to assess this area without (a) an indication of exactly where the cuts are to be made, and (b) actually transferring the money from the line-item before it is spent.


j. $40,000 Reorganization of Facilities and Operations.

Not demonstrated. If the reorganization is purported to be the elimination of 2 security officers, then it is really not a reorganization and amounts to only $26,634.


In the early morning of October 22, I scored the "F & O projected savings" of $564,019 for a Plans A & B reorganization, eliminating 13 positions. Of the projected savings, (a) $421,526 was disallowed as vacancies already abolished to reach the $3.5 million deficit level; (b) $35,623 was disallowed as being in violation of a School Committee vote to retain a director; (c) $25,961 was already included in the October 20 approved cuts; (d) $57,265 was disallowed as 1/3 of the year already worked and paid, and (e) only $26,634 were in real cuts --- of 2 security officers.


With an estimated $564,019 becoming a verified $26,634, F&O estimates and calculations are highly suspect, trigger enhanced scrutiny, and require detailed back-up information, before evaluation or scoring of savings is possible.


k. $310,000 Reduction in Professional Development (Impact Bargaining).

Needs to be implemented - QUICKLY. Diminishing savings. As time drags on, the mentoring line-item will be expended and savings in the order of $50,000 will not be realized. Based on teachers on the payroll, a reduction of one professional day's salary would be $252,396.


I am convinced that unless significant cuts are made in administration and the concept of shared sacrifice --- including at the top --- is successful demonstrated in deed, as well as word, the FREA may not agree to any concessions.


l. $13,000 Reduction in Salary - Fine Arts Director (Impact Bargaining).

Needs to be implemented - QUICKLY. Actually, $13,345 can be realized, if FRAA agrees to it as part of impact bargaining in the next 7 days.


m. $20,000 Reduction in Salary - Associate Principals (Impact Bargaining).

Needs to be implemented - QUICKLY. Actually, $22,216 can be realized, if FRAA agrees to it as part of impact bargaining in the next 7 days.


n. $10,000 Reduction in Salary - Athletic Director (Impact Bargaining).

Savings cannot be realized. Downgrading the position to high school department head will only yield a $4,726 savings, if done by the end of October.


o. $30,000 Reduction in Salary - Administrative Assistants.

Reduced savings to be realized. A 10% cut in pay for 6 administrative assistants results in a $21,178 savings, IF such contracts are amended in the next 7 days.


p. $90,000 Overall Percent Cuts.

Doable, but not enough. Lacks specificity. Without identifying position and percentage cut --- and negotiating them either individually or with the FRAA as part of impact bargaining, it is impossible to confirm the amount. It is certainly doable, as the total amount of downgrades is $281,558. The fact that the reduction in only 1/3 of the total identified begs the question: who will not have to bear a downgrade and will additional compensation not be included? It is also unclear if this is "overall percent cuts" in salaries (via downgrades) or cuts in expenses that had been estimated in my proposed reduction/changes package.



Additional Expenditure Requirements and Additional Reductions Identified by the City Administrator.


I had recommended a comprehensive set of expense reductions, as well as increases required in specific expense items. The following increased expenses:

$201,095 for retroactive custodian/maintenance personnel pay
$30,000 in utilities
$6,950 in dues and memberships (already spent, but not budgeted)
were to be budgeted for and offset against the following expense cuts (not included in the "School Committee Deficit Reduction Plan"):

reduction of $233,742, representing an across-the-board 10% cut,
reduction of $175,600 in energy cuts of closed buildings --- IF transferred to the City, and
reduction of $50,352 (a 20% cut) in athletic coaches.

[As an aside, I would urge that we allocate both retiree and active employee group insurance benefits costs to relevant revolving funds and grants, across-the-board, without exception, as a way to save General Fund staff. For example, FREA or FREDTV revolving funds should cover such costs.]


In the final analysis, the "School Committee Deficit Reduction Plan" did not close the financing gap. It is based on $860,000 in heroic assumptions (in grant transfers, middle school cuts, transport, and energy). It did not address the additional $240,000 identified in additional requirements (exacerbating the deficit) that I had balanced off against expense reductions. Even if you accept the questionable assumptions and add the $117,000 in E-Rate reimbursement, we are still $600,000 short of the goal --- and even further away --- $840,000 considering additional requirements (detailed above). If the assumed savings are not realized (in the near-term), the deficit grows to $1.7 million.


On a final point, time is NOT on our side. Whatever is decided needs to be implemented immediately in terms of both budget transfers between cost-centers and line-items and in terms of concrete action. Budget transfers are needed to take funds away from some cost center (to ensure that the "savings" are not already spent) and allocate them to approved expenses. Individual contract amendments and memoranda of understanding with unions need to be processed before the end of the month. Each pay period that passes reduces the savings by 4.5%. If impact bargaining is not successful within a 3-week period, the personnel savings MUST be realized immediately through reductions in force. November 14 is the "drop dead date" to ensure that all deficit reduction items have been implemented --- either through bargaining or reduction-in-force.


After that date, the reduction process becomes almost unmanageable and will require major structural and instructional cuts that will cut into the marrow. After that date, state take-over or receivership would become more preferable than continued inertia and indecisive drift.


To stop the hemorrhaging, the School Committee should order a hard freeze on new hires; if a position becomes vacant through retirement or resignation and it is deemed to be essential, then personnel should be transferred from a lower priority position to that "absolutely necessary position". I also suggest that the School Department process POs or contracts for 15% LESS than what was projected; instead of the ubiquitous $9,950 POs, I suggest $8,500 POs. See if you can live with that amount and then order more, if necessary --- later.



Alan Silva

City Administrator

City of Fall River



Kathy Edwards

Chief of Staff

Mayors Office

508-324-2600

508-324-2626 (Fax#)

kedwards@fallriverma.org

Anonymous said...

mayor can't spell certainty ?

note the long list of people the e-mail was sent to...among them:
chris gabrielli, james karam, ron arruda, nick christ, jean maccormack, john sbrega, reverand robert lawrence.....

Anonymous said...

Why would this email be sent to anyone other than the school committee. They have the power to make the cuts and restore funding. This committee is playing a game of politics with our educational system. We have a city administration who will not give one concession or penny to education our children. What is the net school spending amount for FY 09 and do we exceed it and if so by how much? I as a parent have had it with these games.

Anonymous said...

Is this the same information the mayor gave to wsar ?

This is an all out war between two bullies each trying to sell us on their side of the story.

They are all the same and the citizens, parents , teachers and children are the ones being hurt by this. Take them all to court and get an arbitrator to settle this sandbox fight.

Anonymous said...

Lefty,

I see you once again had to delete comments. Wish we could just stick with the issue there are plenty to go around in Fall River right now.

ErinB

Lefty said...

I agree Erin, the comments seem to go from meaningful points that add to the conversation, to mudslinging.

However, this time around I deactivated comments on the one post because someone commented something that I think needed to be deleted. I was unable to delete it for some reason. So I took the comments of the page until I have the chance to figure out what the issue is.

I'll get them up soon.

Anonymous said...

this is so simple, fire fischer, then fire the leadership team members responsible for the mess including people like ralph olsen and his 2 cronies who were hiring beyond budget limitations, combine bus routes - 3 kids on a bus costing 50 grand is criminal - then it is time to take steps to recall boss bob, he is out of control and doens't even know it. get this done and over, there'll be more in January when state revenue numbers roll in and aid is cut so eliminate the excess now to minimize cuts later.. did you ever think dave sullivan would be a better option ? wow

Anonymous said...

IS this true that the email included the KArams,Christ,Arruda, and Sbgrea??

WHy would they be sent an email that was sent to school employees???

Anonymous said...

Nick Christ gets this email? Fall River's resident drug lord gets emails from city administrators? Either he's the most well connected dozen-time convicted felon this side of...well...that guy Lefty doesn't want anybody to mudsling against or that's just a flat out lie. Then again, stranger things have happened in The Riv'.

Anonymous said...

Here's an interesting point. The city received a 2.77% increase in Chapter 70 aid from the state for FY09. This is about 2.5 million. If there was that much of an increase from the state why was the school dept. given a bottom line budget of 4 million dollars less than last years budget? The amount of Chapter 70 aid and the percentage can be found listed in the city budget. Isn't it funny that the deficit is almost exactly the difference between last year's and this year's budget? If there was an increase in Chapter 70 aid where is it? I think that the citizens of Fall RIver need to start thinking about an investigation. The education of our children is at stake. How can we stop this madness? We must have some sort of rights. Do we contact the Attorney General?

Anonymous said...

yes it is true that they rec'd the e-mail, all school dept employees rec'd the mail as well and we all are wondering why chris gabrielli (chris@mass2020.org), james karam (jimk@firstbristol.com),nick christ (nchrist@citizansunionbank.com), etc.. all rec'd the same message.....it was in employees' e-mail on Monday morning, sent on "Sun26Oct2008".

Anonymous said...

It's all about the mayor getting the word out that the Kevin Aquiar/ school administration deficit reduction plan won't work because the numbers are wrong. That is why. He is just letting everyone in the world know that the school dept side is inept. The mayor wants his own plan, and he just might get it considering he just manipulated the votes last night to reconsider the original plan to lay off many administrators. Meeting is tonight!!

Anonymous said...

Can this situation get any worse? It is more than possible that if our school committee, its chairman, and the high priced leadership team can't clean up their own mess, the State Department of Education might step in and take over the whole school system. If they do, neither the Mayor nor the Superintendent of Schools will look very pretty in light of what both of them have done. The Mayor low balled the budget to begin with and the Superintendent arrogantly did as he pleased. God save our city from people like these. God protect our children.

Anonymous said...

Mayor low balled then added expenses probably to create this mess, superintendent over spent again through arrogance and ignorance , maybe both should be fired ?

Anonymous said...

where can one get a copy of the report, with all the expenses listed, it is reportedly "public" ?

Anonymous said...

Copies of the school budget can be obtained by calling the city clerk's office at city hall and requesting a copy of the budget. The cost this year is $33.60 per copy.

Anonymous said...

RadioFree is confused on some matters, Fischer did not get a new contract, he got the option of negotiating for a new contract. Fischer put himself into the bad position because he hired too many people at ridiculous salaries throughout his tenure. He violated contracts of every direct service employee without regard for law or good faith. Fischer took care of his buddies from DOE, friends throughout the region (i.e. Cathy Macedo is "friend" of a local former superintendent who was thrown out of his job for incompetence and violating contracts, Fischer hired him as a consultant too while Macedo destroyed the finances). None of this excuses the Mayah as his adding insurance costs late in budget process, stormwater fees, and attempts to take over city departments borders on or surpasses illegal activity has created chaos throughout the city (i.e. paying stormwater run off fee when water from your property does not enter city sewer system)....His displays at school committee meetings is cause for concern.

Laurie said...

What concerned me so much at that last SC meeting was the HR posititon. Gus Martinson has already left the building! His position of $100,000 is not filled and I believe abolished. They jump around so much it's hard to tell. There were 3 other positions that went with that job. Manager HR @ $70,000, Admin Asst to HR @ $50,000 and HR Clerk @ $34,626. These 3 positions total almost $155,000. Joe Martins made a motion to eliminate the assistant position and not one SC member would 2nd it! How can you have an asst for a job that doesn't exist? These SC members treat Joe like he's a baffoon. Instead they should be looking to him for knowledge and guidance. He is the only one of the 6 who actually has the knowledge to handle a budget of that size!What causes the mentality of people to be afraid of someone with more knowledge?

Shawn keeps asking questions that are fruitless and you want to tell him to go home and do his homework like you would a 9th grader. I can't even talk about Kevin Aguiar except to say I hate when politicians use the SC as a stepping stone. If he wins the Rep seat he might find that SC rock get awfully slippery! Tim McCoy? Who elected him?? And Mark Costa - is he taking up residence on Plymouth Ave?

Anonymous said...

Thaks for the info...$33 for the budget ? wow, what do you figure it costs to print one copy ?

Anonymous said...

While it is proper to be charged for the cost of printing public records, you should be able to pay less than $33.00 if you request the budget on a floppy disk, compact disk, or as an attachment to your e-mail.

The cost should be even less if you supply your own writable compact disk.

Anonymous said...

The city budget is on line , isn't the school budget there as well??

Anonymous said...

What is the name of the assistant that was not cut, the answer may lie there.

Anonymous said...

http://www.fallriverma.org/budget.asp

Anonymous said...

Cindy Keene is doing everyone's job now. Everyone that got laid off. That girl is unbelievable. Go Cindy!! Hope the mayor appreciates it. That's what he wants to see. Do more with less.

Anonymous said...

All the clerks were on the chopping block. Then people noticed that the first clerk to go would be Terry Michael, the sister-in-law of Joe Camara. Now all the clerks are saved!! It's a coicidence!

Anonymous said...

Well well well, terry michael was hired after the hiring freeze and got a nice raise as well didn't she???

Anonymous said...

I got the budget online for free ! It is 229 pages and a very interesting read, everyone should take a look to see how your tax dollars are being spent, it is a public record. The state sent $93,641,102 in Chapter 70 School Aid. The Mayor is telling us the schools have $82 million to spend. Where's the other $11+million ? Is it going to BCBS insurance ? If it is there must be another insurance company out there that could provide the same level of coverage for a whole lot less. Over $11 million is a lot of money....

Anonymous said...

what will happen with the principals at Kuss and Henry Lord who brought in deans and dept heads adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to each school ? MCAS scores went down in both schools yet the budgets went up, each school lost a VP but those schools' budgets were up becasue of the additional positions...should we be looking at trimming those back to pre-fischer days and rid ourselves of people who obviously have no interest in FR other than collecting a paycheck on top of their retirements?