Donna Coppola

Satterwhite enters race for school committee

COURTESY PHOTO
Michael Satterwhite is the latest candidate to enter the crowded race for School Committee.

By THOMAS GRILLO

Michael Satterwhite insists there’s something missing in the city’s public schools: Spanish-speaking teachers.

“About 68 percent of the school children consider themselves to be Hispanic, but there aren’t many Hispanic teachers,” he said. “We need to recruit faculty that more reflect the students.”

The 32-year-old Revere attorney, who has a 9-year-old daughter and another child on the way, is the latest candidate to launch a campaign for a seat on the School Committee.

“As a lawyer, I see families who have children with disabilities and others who are on IEPs (Individualized Education Plans),” he said. “Over the years it’s been such a difficult process for parents to get through it and get the proper ed plans for their kids. I have the tools to improve our schools.”

He enters a crowded field to join the seven-member panel where the mayor serves as chair. There will be at least two new members of the school committee because Patricia Capano, the vice chairwoman, and Maria Carrasco will not seek re-election.

Incumbents seeking another term include Donna Coppola, John Ford, Lorraine Gately, and Jared Nicholson. In addition, there are nine other contenders including Jordan Avery, Cherish Rashida Casey,  Brian Castellanos, Elizabeth Rosario Gervacio, Gayle Hearns-Rogers, Sandra Lopez, Natasha Megie-Maddrey, Jessica Murphy, and Stanley Wotring Jr.

While Satterwhite agrees Lynn desperately needs new schools, he voted against the controversial proposal in March to approve construction of a pair of middle schools.

In a special election, voters rejected two ballot questions that would have authorized a $188.5 million plan for a 652-student school on Parkland Avenue and a second school to house 1,008 students on McManus Field on Commercial Street.

“I voted no because the process didn’t sit well for me,” he said. “We need new buildings, but do they need to be where they planned to put them? I didn’t agree with the school to be built at Parkland Avenue.”

Satterwhite wants to know why the city needed to tax homeowners an extra $200 a year for 25 years for the new schools.

“I’m paying property taxes now, so what are they doing to improve the schools,” he said. “Where is the $5,000 that I pay going?”

Satterwhite didn’t have the easiest of childhoods. He has talked about his mother being one of Lynn’s biggest drug dealers and a user as well. At one point, he went to live with his father to get away from a bad environment.

In 1997, he met former Mayor Thomas M. Menino at a Volunteers of America event. The faith-based nonprofit was founded in 1896 to provide assistance to low-income people. He said Menino became a mentor and helped guide him into adulthood.

“It was something having someone of his stature actually want to know more about me and help me,” he said. “We had a friendship of many years.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Choices aplenty await Lynn voters

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN  —  Time is running out for potential political candidates to get into this fall’s election.

The deadline to pull nomination papers from the City Clerk’s Election Office is Friday at 4 p.m, and the filing deadline is Monday, June 26.

So far, four candidates have emerged to replace incumbent Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy who is seeking her third, four-year term. They include state Sen. Thomas M. McGee, Edward J. McNeil, Shawnee Love Haynes, and Daphnee N. Puryear.

Eight candidates are seeking councilor-at-large seats including incumbents Buzzy Barton, Hong Net, and Brian LaPierre. Among the challengers are Brian Field, Jaime Figueroa, Richard Ford, John Ladd, and Taso Nikolakopoulos. Councilor-At-Large Daniel Cahill is not seeking reelection, clearing the way for at least one new at-large councilor.

Unless a challenger emerges by Friday, Ward 7 Councilor John “Jay” Walsh is the only councilor on the 11-member panel who will not face opposition.

In what some say 2017 could be a “throw the bums out year” councilors in Wards 1 through 7 face competition.

Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi is pitted against William F. O’Shea III and Jesse Warren.

In Ward 2, William Trahant decided not to seek re-election. Among the five candidates positioned to take the open seat include Peter Grocki, Christopher Magrane, Gina O’Toole, Richard Starbard, and Alexander Zapata.  

Ward 3 Councilor and City Council President Darren Cyr is pitted against Calvin Anderson, George Meimeteas and Lee Sherman.

In Ward 4, Richard Colucci,  the longest serving city councilor, is in a fight with Eliud Alcala.

Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis is facing a fight for the second time against Marven Hyppolite. The 24-year-old caseworker for U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) was defeated by Chakoutis two years ago by a nearly 2-1 margin.

In Ward 6, City Councilor Peter Capano could face off against Daniel Edwards Staub.

There will be at least two new members of the school committee.

Patricia Capano, the 55-year-old vice chairwoman who was first elected in 1997, and Maria Carrasco, a native of the Dominican Republic who has been on the seven-member panel since 2007, will not seek re-election this year.

The other members who are seeking re-election this year include Donna Coppola, John Ford, Lorraine Gately, and Jared Nicholson. The mayor serves as chair.  

A handful of candidates have also taken out papers to run including Jordan Avery, Cherish Rashida Casey,  Brian Castellanos, Elizabeth Rosario Gervacio, Gayle Hearns-Rogers, Sandra Lopez, Natasha Megie-Maddrey, Jessica Murphy, Michael Satterwhite, and Stanley Wotring Jr.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Nicholson seeks 2nd school committee term

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Cindy Rodriguez and Jianna DeFranzo chat with Jared Nicholson after he announced his bid for a second term.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Jared Nicholson, a member of the School Committee, is running for a second two-year term, and officially kicked off his campaign on Wednesday.

Nicholson, 31, an attorney, laid out his reasons for running for reelection to a crowd of supporters and other elected officials at Rincon Macorisano.

“I plan to raise a family here and I want to send my future kids to great public schools, and I want to be a part of the effort to make sure that our city has great public schools to offer,” he said.

Nicholson said he believes in the potential Lynn has, and in order “for us to reach that potential, we need to make sure that all of our kids reach their potential,” which has to take place in the public schools. He said that would be achieved by getting the kids in schools now the skills they need to thrive, and attracting and retaining families who have a lot to contribute and are looking at the schools and deciding where they want to live.

Barking up the right tree

Nicholson said the district needs to continue to find more opportunities for kids to find their passion after school, highlighting its achievements with the wrestling program at Thurgood Marshall Middle School, the early college program with North Shore Community College, and important programs in IT and healthcare added at Lynn Vocational Technical Institute.

Some challenges the district faces, he said, include the dropout rate (listed as 4.9 percent for all grades in the 2015-2016 Massachusetts Department of Education report), sorting out the budget, and finding the space needed for schools.

Including Nicholson, 13 people have taken out papers to run for school committee, including incumbents, Donna Coppola, John Ford, and Lorraine Gately, and challengers, Jordan Avery, Cherish Casey, Brian Castellanos, Gayle Hearns-Rogers, Sandra Lopez, Natasha Megie-Maddrey, Jessica Murphy, Michael Satterwhite, and Stanley Wotring Jr.

Long-time incumbents, Maria Carrasco and Patricia Capano, vice-chair, are not seeking re-election.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

 

An election year exodus

Lynn Ward 2 City Councilor William Trahant Jr. appears to have set in motion an exodus of veteran elected officials from the City Council and School Committee.

His decision not to run for reelection is sparking a potential return to politics for former committee member Rick Starbard. A popular citywide vote-getter, Starbard probably won’t have an easy walk into the Council Chamber, but he has to be viewed as a favorite to succeed Trahant.

On the committee side, dean of the committee Patricia Capano has decided not to run along with Maria Carrasco, the vocal opponent of Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham, who leaves ally Donna Coppola on the committee.

A relatively small field of newcomers is vying, for now at least, to grab committee seats but the double exodus from the committee could see candidates teaming up to jointly campaign and ask voters to “bullet” their names on the ballot in the fall.

Asking voters to cast ballots for a pack of candidates instead of individuals running for elected office is risky in an era of clearly-stated voter discontent. Voters turned national electoral politics on its proverbial ear last year when they rejected a broad field of established Republican candidates for a political outsider and kept a firebrand upstart alive in the Democratic primaries even as the party’s favorite kept her rendezvous with the party nomination.

Extra Play produces a winner in Peabody

But national politics means little at the local level and the exodus in veterans from city service is a tribute to their collective commitment to serving the city in an age when people find plenty of reasons not to enter politics.

Trahant is better known for his family’s multi-generational roofing business than his council service. Most Ward 2 constituents would agree Billy Trahant readily shunned his Council Chamber seat for a chance to climb behind the wheel of a pickup and plow their driveways during a blizzard.

Finding a candidate to replace his type of hands-on, nuts-and-bolts service to local residents as a councilor isn’t a guarantee this election year.

Capano alternately guided and chided committee colleagues, including mayors serving as committee chairmen, to evaluate public school policies and tackle complicated issues like net spending and new school construction. Her frustration over school spending seemed to grow in the last several years but her commitment to improving local education will not end when she leaves the committee.

Lynn city elections have always been defined by dramatic wins and losses: Brian LaPierre’s resounding councilor at large win in 2015; Judy Kennedy’s razor-thin 2009 victory; the late Pat McManus’ giant-tumbling win in 1991. In that tradition, the exodus of veteran elected officials this year could usher in victories bent on redefining city politics.

School committee veterans bowing out

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — Two longstanding School Committee members are calling it quits.  

Patricia Capano, the 55-year-old vice chairwoman who was first elected in 1997, and Maria Carrasco, a native of the Dominican Republic who has been on the seven-member panel since 2007, will not seek re-election this year.

“Maybe 20 years is enough, it feels like it might be the right time,” said Capano.  “I love the job, but I’m not willing to put in that kind of time anymore.”

Capano launched her first campaign when her children were in elementary school and one of her boys was diagnosed with special needs.

“I was very green, I didn’t know much about education and when it came to special ed, I learned to be my son’s advocate,” she said.  “I thought if I can advocate for my child, I can do it for others.”

Among the accomplishments she’s proud of include adopting a unified curriculum, implementing professional standards, and adopting the so-called wrap-around theory, where you treat the whole child, she said.

“We’ve made so many gains,” she said. “We’ve implemented a breakfast and lunch program, extended day, clinics and child care. I saw the opening of Classical, the addition to Lynn English and construction of the Thurgood Marshall.”

English grads embark on new journey

While Capano said she will miss reading to students, and building partnerships with staff, she will not miss campaigns for re-election.

“It’s wearing and very negative,” she said.  

Carrasco, 55, said it’s time for new blood on the committee.

“I decided this year I won’t run and to take some time off,” she said. “But I will continue my community work. We need to have more young people involved in elected office.”

Not being on the committee will allow her more time to be available to help families with school issues, she said.

The other members who are seeking re-election this year include Donna Coppola, John Ford, Lorraine Gately, and Jared Nicholson. The mayor serves as chair.  

A handful of candidates have also taken out papers to run including Brian Castellanos, Gayle Hearns-Rogers, Sandra Lopez, Natasha Megie-Maddrey, and Michael Satterwhite.


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

 

Marshalling a plan for former school building

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — City officials presented a plan to sell the former Thurgood Marshall Middle School on Porter Street on Thursday night, for a potential reuse that could include senior market-rate housing and a commercial component. But school officials opted to take no action.

City Council President Darren Cyr and James Lamanna, the city’s attorney, presented the option to the School Committee, requesting that the 19 Porter St. property be transferred to the Public Property Committee of the City Council to prepare a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit bids for its sale to a developer.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, chairwoman of the School Committee, said she was looking for the committee to make a motion to approve the transfer of the site, with a minimum asking price and timeline for when that sale could be complete. If those conditions weren’t met, the property would revert back to the School Committee.

School Committee members opted to set that minimum sales price at $4 million, and require the sale be completed within a year. The other condition set was that a School Committee member, John Ford, would sit on the RFP committee, the board responsible for preparing the document.

Ultimately, the School Committee opted to table a vote on the transfer of the property until their next meeting, upon a motion made by member Donna Coppola. Coppola said she wanted to take time to allow the committee’s attorney time to research the matter. Voting against the motion to table were Kennedy and Patricia Capano, vice-chair.

Cyr said the initial plan was to demolish the former Marshall Middle School, but a contractor reached out to city officials and wanted to buy it. His vision for the building wasn’t the vision the city had, but it let officials know there was interest in the property, Cyr said.

Lamanna said the cost to demolish the building is estimated at $2.2 million, which was part of the money bonded by the voters for the construction of the new Marshall Middle School, which opened last year on Brookline Street. If that money is not used for demolition, he said legally it could only be used for capital projects that could be bonded for 25 years, which would likely be for the construction of new buildings or additions on the school side. If the property is sold, he said the proceeds would go toward bondable projects more than five years. The proceeds would basically go into a reserve fund that would allow the city to plan ahead if, for example, a boiler in a building went.

Ford said he knows the issue is to sell the building and get some cash for the city in a cash drop situation, but he was hesitant about selling any more school property. He said there was some uncertainty about whether there would be any potential buyers, and he couldn’t see anybody paying big money for some place that’s going to cost lots of money to remediate.

Peabody lays off on initial job-cut fears

“We’re in a city where we’re land strapped,” Ford said. “We’re land poor. I don’t want to eliminate jobs on the city side. I don’t want to hurt anybody, but I really find myself in a position where it’s going to be hard for me to vote to give up any land.”

Kennedy was in favor of the transfer. For 25 years being in public life, she said she also disagreed with selling public land and felt that in most cases, it was better to bank that land.

“The reason why I’m capitulating on this particular piece of land, is that first of all it’s not big enough to build a new modern middle school, so that idea is right out,” Kennedy said. “So, it would only be usable for an elementary school or something of that size. It’s not appropriate for a police or a fire station or anything because it’s basically, it’s on a residential street.”

She said she was more comfortable letting go of this piece of land, because it wouldn’t even be appropriate for a new Cobbet or Tracy Elementary School, because it would be out of that general area of the city.

“And in light of the difficulties that we’re having making the budget come together in this year, it seems like a piece of land that may not be as valuable to the city as someplace that was located deeper into West Lynn,” Kennedy said.

Cyr said an RFP would potentially be to solicit bids for a mixed use, which would include senior market-rate apartments, as well as some commercial use, such as doctors’ offices that would cater to seniors. A small portion of those units, because of federal funding, could be allocated as affordable, he added. He said there is a true need for senior housing at marketable rate in Lynn.

Lamanna said the building was last assessed at $8 million. He said the Massachusetts School Building Authority funded the new Marshall Middle School because the assessment was that the old school on Porter Street was beyond repair. Cyr said it would cost upwards of $50 million to bring the former school up to today’s standards, for it to be restructured for a school use.

Cyr said he was a lot more hopeful after Thursday’s meeting that the transfer would be approved by the School Committee.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Committee ponders meaning of ‘sanctuary’

By LEAH DEARBORN

LYNN — The School Committee continued a discussion regarding the concerns of immigrant students on Thursday.

Member Maria Carrasco initiated the conversation at the previous committee meeting, saying she has been approached by a number of students who are worried about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) entering the schools.

In response, attorney and committee member Jared Nicholson drafted a resolution meant to clarify the law and reassure students.

Nicholson read aloud from the resolution, which stated the Lynn Public Schools’ commitment to providing a safe learning environment.

The resolution reiterated that city schools do not request immigration status information from students.

School attorney John C. Mihos said the resolution doesn’t constitute a policy change, just a restatement of the laws as they already exist.

Carrasco and committee member Donna Coppola both spoke in support of the concept of becoming a “sanctuary school district,” a distinction that Mihos said would only alter the title of the resolution and not its purpose.

“The word ‘sanctuary’ means protection for somebody who feels chased,” said Carrasco, who argued that the word alone does have some impact.

Saugus Rotary up to speed

Member Patricia Capano said there have been no incidents regarding students and immigration enforcement in city schools. She said the resolution is an attempt on the committee’s part to be proactive.

Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham said she spoke with Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett regarding the subject and was told there have been no deportations in the county.

Carrasco disputed that claim, but said she could not ethically provide the identities of the individuals impacted.

A vote to adopt the resolution was tabled in order to bring the topic to a full committee for further discussion.

Leah Dearborn can be reached at ldearborn@itemlive.com.

Schools out for the time being in Lynn

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy is pictured at a discussion on schools.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — No new schools will be built in the city anytime soon.

That was the decision of a city panel Tuesday that orchestrated a plan for construction of two middle schools to ease overcrowding and replace a dilapidated facility.

Following last Tuesday’s special election where voters resoundingly rejected a request to fund an $188.5 million plan for a school on Parkland Avenue and a second one on McManus Field, the Pickering School Building Committee withdrew its application for state funding.

In addition to taking itself out of consideration for funds, Lynn Stapleton, the city’s project manager for the school proposal, said Lynn had a number of options. They included a plan to split the project into two and build one school first and then a second; build one school and renovate the Pickering Middle School; or build one school and use Pickering as an elementary school.

But the panel seemed in no mood to consider them.

Before the vote to end the city’s bid for school dollars, Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy invited Donald Castle, a founding member of Protect Our Reservoir — Preserve Pine Grove, the grassroots organization that campaigned against the schools, to speak to the committee. The mayor said he had an alternative plan. But he declined.

School Committeewoman Donna Coppola voiced concern about where new students would be placed.

“We have kids coming in that will not have seats,” she said.

Edward Calnan said the committee did their job and despite the vote against the schools, the members should be proud of the work they did.

“We were told we needed to provide space for 1,600 students and that’s what we did,” he said. “We did an exhaustive search for sites in the city and came up with the best ones that were the least expensive to make the project viable.”

Off and running in Lynn

Kennedy said it’s clear the voters have no appetite for more taxes and she will honor their wishes.

“The people spoke loud and clear,” she said. “The problem was the price tag and I’m just ready to drop the whole thing. They say insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. That’s what we would be doing if we did anything but drop it.”

With that, the 16-member group voted unanimously to tell the Massachusetts School Building Authority, the  quasi-independent government authority created to help pay for the construction of public schools, that Lynn won’t be seeking funds.

At the close of the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Catherine Latham choked back tears as she expressed her disappointment in the failure of the vote for the new schools.

“Our new Thurgood Marshall Middle School is a model for the entire state and I was hoping that just viewing that could carry an equalized opportunity for all our students,” she said. “But it was not to be.” 

In an interview following the meeting, Castle defended his position not to speak to the committee.

“It was a bag job,” he said. “They wanted to pick a fight with me, I’m not going to get into an argument with the superintendent that would make me look dumb. The proponents never sat down with us or called us once. I feel bad for the kids, but now they want to talk to us in the 11th hour. No thanks.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Showdown over Lynn school custodians

By BRIDGET TURCOTTE and THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN  — The school committee wants changes to be made to a Home Rule Petition that would transfer management of the school’s maintenance staff to the school department from the city’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD).

The move, engineered by Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, is designed to capture $1 million in additional school spending and avoid a state penalty. Under the revised rules, the city’s school custodians and maintenance staff are headed back to the school department. Earlier this week, the city council voted unanimously for the change.

The school committee, which did not have a vote in the transfer, was scheduled to hold a public comment session to hear from the employees and learn more about the change. But the meeting was canceled because of  last week’s snowstorm. Instead the discussion continued Thursday night, after the council vote. Kennedy said she would take all comments into consideration before signing off on council’s decision.

“I will take several days after this lands on my desk to decide if I’m going to sign it or not,” said Kennedy. “It has not been presented for a signature yet. By the city rules, I have 10 days once it is presented to me.”

Should Kennedy decide to veto the decision made by council, the panel would either make changes to the petition or drop it. But if she signs off, it moves on for approval from the legislature.

James Lamanna, the city’s attorney, said while the school committee can recommend to the city council that they rescind their vote from earlier this week to move custodian management to the school department from ISD, the council is under no obligation to reverse its vote. In addition, the school committee may ask Lynn’s Beacon Hill delegation to reject the home rule petition for the change, but they too are under no obligation to support it.

The controversy erupted in 2006, when former Mayor Edward “Chip” Clancy shifted the custodians and maintenance staff from the school department to the city. The transfer came, officials said, because the schools were dirty and the janitors lacked supervision.

When ISD inherited the 166-employee unit in 2007, it included 120 permanent custodians, 20 substitute contract workers who filled in for absentees and 26 maintenance technicians for 26 schools.

ISD Director Michael Donovan said as a result of the switch, the custodians were held accountable, attendance and timekeeping policies were implemented, employees punched time cards, vacation rules were tightened and the city outsourced lots of maintenance project work.

Today, the department has 57 custodians and a dozen maintenance workers with a budget of $14 million.

While there’s agreement that ISD’s management of the custodians has worked well, Peter Caron, the city’s chief financial officer, said shifting the employees to the school department will add about $1 million to the city’s required school spending.

In a quirk in state law, while salaries for the custodians as city employees counts toward school spending, their health insurance premiums do not. By moving them, the city can add health insurance and reduce the deficit.

Caron and the mayor say moving the custodians to the school department will allow them to include those health care costs in the budget.

Richard Germano, vice president of AFSCME Local 1736 representing the workers, has said they are happy to go back to work for the school department. But because the petition calls for two custodians who clean City Hall to be transferred to the schools in addition to a supervisor position that has yet to be filled, Germano is concerned that the supervisor position was designed with a specific candidate in mind.

“That section is very offensive, as a taxpayer of this city,” he said. “The chief of inspectional services, I guarantee, will get this job. I guarantee it was put in there for him.”

Caron did not present the committee with any indication of the costs the transfer would pose to the school department because he said the numbers were not requested. School Business Administrator Kevin McHugh argued he sent an email to Donovan on Feb. 6 that has not been returned.

“This doesn’t feel correct,” said committee member Patricia Capano. “I feel that there are statements behind these statements that we are not aware of.”

Board members also shared concerns that the hiring process was in violation of state laws because the document does not indicate that veterans will have preference. The process outlined also requires three people to sign off on hiring a potential employee, rather than leaving the responsibility to the superintendent.

“When this comes to you (Kennedy), I would like to see it be sent back to the council to have them correct these things,” said committee member Donna Coppola.

“I share concerns about the costs,” said member Jared Nicholson. “I would appreciate seeing a breakdown. We spent a lot of time talking about the net school spending and this is entirely motivated by school spending. It was initiated by city council but everything in it is being implemented by the school department.”

Day without immigrants hits Lynn


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Three seek Special school job

By GAYLA CAWLEY

LYNN — Superintendent Dr. Catherine C. Latham is expected to make her recommendation for the next administrator of special education to the Lynn School Committee on Thursday.

Members of the school committee unanimously put forward two names for the superintendent’s consideration, Ellen Kelleher-Rojas and Lesia Diego. John Ford, a school committee member, also submitted a third name, Jeffrey Lappin.

Information on the finalists’ backgrounds, including current job positions, was not made available by school officials on Monday. But Ford said all of the candidates are working in various aspects of special education in Massachusetts school systems.

Latham could not be reached for comment.

Sacred Heart rebooting curriculum

Jared Nicholson, a school committee member, said the position will pay about $110,000, but could vary slightly based on experience and education. He said the person hired would oversee all of the special education services in the Lynn Public Schools.

Nicholson said the committee would have to vote on a candidate, but ultimately hires on the recommendation of the superintendent. Six people were interviewed by the school committee and top administrators publicly last week, and from that pool, three finalists were chosen.

“I thought they had good leadership experience, good subject matter experience,” Nicholson said of Kelleher-Rojas and Diego, the two names he put forward.

He said they were able to discuss formally what their philosophies were for special education, how to run the department and had more relevant experience than the other candidates.

Nicholson said he was looking for experience in a candidate, someone who has in-depth involvement in special education and is ready to take on a position of great responsibility and great importance to the district. He was also interested in the philosophy they bring and the commitment to making sure students have all of the resources they need.

Ford said he also submitted Lappin’s name because he thought he was worth notice.

“I just thought I saw something in him that might be good,” Ford said. “His resume was pretty good.”

With the other two candidates, Ford said he thought they interviewed well and had the experience.

Ford said the superintendent could decline to recommend anyone to the school committee on Thursday, and instead choose to repost the position.

School committee member Donna Coppola said she thought Kelleher-Rojas and Diego had lots of experience.

“It could look like a good match for us, for Lynn,” she said. “We’re trying to look for the right match. For me personally, this job is a very big job.”


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

Security main concern for old Marshall School

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
The old Marshal Middle School.

BY BRIDGET TURCOTTE AND ADAM SWIFT

LYNN — While the shuttered Marshall Middle School is slated for demolition, some school committee members say the building is a target for thieves and vandals.

At its Thursday night meeting, the board requested a report on the status of the Porter Street building from Michael Donovan, the city’s director of Inspectional Services.

The request came after committee member Donna Coppola said the school has been broken into, heavily damaged and pipes removed.

“The biggest concern is that it’s still our property,” she said. “If people are going in there, what happens next? It’s our building, we should know if it is secured.”

Police Lt. Rick Donnelly said police investigated a breaking and entering at the school earlier this month.

But Superintendent Catherine Latham disputed her claim. She said while there have been some break-ins and copper piping taken from the school, the building is secure.

“The security system still works,” Latham said. After entering the building with other school personnel recently, they were greeted by police within five minutes.

Latham said the school department is removing materials such as flags and clocks out of the building as needed. She said desks will be moved to other schools and the district’s principals and teachers have been invited to take anything they need.

The city has no planned use for the building. The state has given Lynn $3.5 million to demolish the facility.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com and Adam Swift at aswift@itemlive.com.

After much noise, committee passes school budget

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Lynn City Hall.

BY BRIDGET TURCOTTE

LYNN — After a contentious debate, the School Committee passed a $138.5 million school budget.

Disagreement revolved around an extended-day program that the panel wanted to see included in the spending plan. Committee member Donna Coppola lobbied for the program that proponents say would benefit families.

“Most communities around us have this extended-day service for their kids,” she said. “I want to see it in this budget.”

To pay for it, Coppola proposed cuts including $25,000 from security system updates, $30,000 from technology network supplies and maintenance, and $18,000 — the amount that would fund the program — from the superintendent’s public relations account.

John Ford, a committee member, argued that the board doesn’t have enough expertise to decide on making cuts.

“It’s more prudent to ask Mr. McHugh to find the money in the budget,” he said, referring to

Kevin McHugh, the district’s business administrator.

Ford added that it would be inappropriate to make assumptions that money could be “cherry picked” from individual line items.

Superintendent Catherine Latham opposed any changes to the budget. She said it is too late, noting that contracts have been signed and commitments made.

“There are 26 schools, 16,000 students,” she said. “I am making decisions to make sure everything is run. The budget here is not frivolous. This budget does not deprive the students in this city. There is nothing wrong with this budget. I stand by it.”

While committee member Jared Nicholson said he agreed with the importance of providing the after-school program, he expressed concerns about eliminating necessary items.

The board approved the budget on a 4-2 vote, with Coppola and member Maria Carrasco opposed. Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy did not attend the meeting.

Latham agreed to consider the possibility of an after-school pilot program to be offered at one to two high-risk elementary schools. She said she would talk to teachers and report back to the committee by October.

More than 30 percent of the school budget goes to the department, said McHugh. It includes 22 percent of teachers’ salaries and 53 percent of the non-salary budget, he said.

The city plans to hire a new special education director who will oversee the department that serves more than 3,000 students.

Latham said the ideal candidate will be a dedicated person who knows a lot about special education.

The school committee finalized the qualifications for the position. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Education in administration of special ed. A doctorate is preferred, but not required. The salary for the position will be negotiated.

The position was vacated by Cheryl Menino, who retired after 15 years.

Jessica McLaughlin, assistant director, is serving on an interim basis until a permanent hire is selected.

Latham said a new director is expected to be chosen in less than a few months.


Bridget Turcotte can be reached at bturcotte@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

Stage set for Lynn inauguration

Item Photo By OWEN O’ROURKE
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy’s Chief of Staff Jamie Cerulli walks across the stage at the Lynn Auditorium with a poinsettia for Monday’s inauguration ceremony. 

By THOR JOURGENSEN

LYNN — The City Council and School Committee inauguration ceremony next Monday night will be a homegrown affair featuring elected officials and a local judge, musician and pastor.

Scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in Veterans Memorial Auditorium, the evening’s formalities will be presided over by Council President Daniel Cahill and represent the first time two new councilors and two new committee members take the oath of office.

Cahill took the oath of office as a committee member in 2004 and was first sworn in as a councilor in 2008.

“No matter how many inaugurations you participate in, each is very special. It’s an honor to be elected by the voters,” he said.

Lorraine Gately and Jared Nicholson won committee seats in November and join Patricia Capano, Maria Carrasco, Donna Coppola and John Ford on the board. Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy serves as committee chairman.

Councilors-elect Brian LaPierre (at-large) and John “Jay” Walsh Jr. (Ward 7) join Cahill and councilors Buzzy Barton, Peter Capano, Dianna Chakoutis, Richard Colucci, Darren Cyr, Wayne Lozzi, Hong Net and William Trahant Jr.

Escorted into the auditorium by Lynn police and firefighter honor guards, the elected officials will take seats on the auditorium stage and watch as the English High School Marine Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps cadets present the colors.

Local musician MaryBeth Maes will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” followed by an invocation delivered by East Coast International Church Pastor Kurt Lange. Following a performance by the Mak’n Step squad and dance team, Lynn District Court Judge James Lamothe will administer oaths of office to councilors and committee members.

Although Cahill will be the evening’s master of ceremonies, Kennedy will deliver the inaugural address. The evening will conclude with a performance by the Angkor Dance Troupe, with councilors meeting after the inauguration to pick a president, vice president and Water and Sewer Commission representative.

Cahill is seeking another term as president, but the other two leadership seats are up for grabs with Council Vice President Rick Ford’s decision not to seek reelection last year and Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Lozzi declaring he does not intend to seek another term representing the council on Water and Sewer.

“I’m proud that in 12 years we helped hold (water and sewer) rates down,” Lozzi said.

School Committee members will also meet following inaugural ceremonies.


 

Thor Jourgensen can be reached at tjourgensen@itemlive.com.