Net School Spending study

The Dracut School committee had a discussion this week of a report requested by Dr McNamara regarding Net School Spending in the area communities.

The report shows how much more Billerica, Chelmsford, Tewksbury and Tyngsboro spend beyond what is required to provide educational opportunities to the students in their systems.

It is eye-opening, and I encourage readers to go to the websites of all these school systems and review the offerings each provides.

Donations support Community of Caring

Dawn Smith, the Principal from the Brookside elementary school, came to the School Committee meeting last night bearing gifts.

In support of the school’s Community of Caring efforts towards recycling, Hannafords has donated 250 canvas food bags (like the ones you would purchase at the store) to help the students with food collection and cutback of plastic bags in the waste stream.

Plumbing supply company FW Webb has donated an automated water bottle filling station (this provides both a drinking fountain as well as the ability to refill water bottles).  This is in response to a fundraising drive done by the second graders at the school.  Instead of allowing the school to buy the unit, FW Webb donated it.  Previous funds collected will go towards filters.  Andy Graham’s team will install the unit in the lobby of the Brookside.

Big thanks to these local businesses, as well as the students and teachers that made it happen.

Chief Assessor Kathy Roarke explains Levy Limit

During the last Board of Selectmen meeting, Town Manager Jim Duggan brought in Chief Assessor Kathy Roark to discuss what her department does, how they levy taxes, and how they get adjusted each year.

Duggan then mentioned that people in town have been confused by the concept of splitting the tax rate between residential and commercial properties. He asked Roark to explain the issue.

Here she explains it, and the fact that because our residential tax base is so high (93% of properties are residential), it would take a significant increase on commercial taxes to make any kind of dent in residential taxes.

Unsaid here is the fact that such an increase in commercial taxes would end up driving small businesses out of town.

2013 School Appropriation scrutinized at BOS

The Town Manager received a letter from Superintendent Steve Stone last week where he was responding to continuing rumors in the town concerning the spending of a $100,000 additional appropriation given to the school department back in November of 2013.

A town meeting article at the time called for it to be use for textbooks or educational supplies.

The Superintendent provided documentation showing that he had put together a budget line item to track the $100,000 and that he had purchases of classroom projectors for all classrooms up to grade 8.

Selectman Joe DiRocco brought up this letter as an agenda item tonight, mostly from what I understand was because of the tone of the letter.. which he felt was negative and accusatory.

DiRocco read out the minutes of Selectmen’s meeting back then, as well as minutes from a later school committee meeting that mentioned these purchases but also mentioned the hiring of a tech consultant.

Now, according to school committee members I’ve spoken with, the additional tech staff hired at the time was completely independent of this appropriation. Also, the classroom projectors are considered educational supplies by the dept of education.

Selectman Tami Dristilaros responded immediately in defense of the school committee that this was a three year old issue, and was just a negative item to bring up during the time of an override. She then repeated her belief that there should have been one question.. but emphasized that she would vote for both questions in the ballot box (and challenged the others to do the same).

Chairman Tony Archinski challenged DiRocco as being overly negative, and Selectman Alison Hughes spoke to working together and that whether there was disagreement with decisions of one committee, the boards must continue to work together.

DiRocco told me that they had invited Sup Stone to the meeting tonight. Chairman Betsy Murphy spoke later in the meeting to offer to have Stone in later, but DiRocco emphasized that such a visit would just continue a negative situation which nobody wanted.

In summary Stone felt he had to respond to rumors in town that had been intefering with a recent audit (as he told us on the air last week) and had been mentioned at a recent BOS meeting. DiRocco felt he had to respond to the tone of the letter, and with further information from the time that at first glance looks contradictory.. I believe when looking at all the facts from the various points of view that they do gel into a reality that shows all the facts as true, and everything being done legally and correctly (as DiRocco emphasized).

DiRocco – Can we provide a tax offset for Elderly?

During a meeting of the Board of Selectmen tonight, Selectmen Joe DiRocco again requested information from Town Manager Jim Duggan and Atty Jim Hall information on our ability as a town to provide relief to elderly taxpayers if the override passes.
Atty Hall had been looking into this and believes that it is possible for us to provide an addition $100 tax credit to those who are in the greatest need (taking into account income, assets, etc). The town already has a program that helps these taxpayers with a $500 credit, and town meeting could increase this amount.
The Town Manager is continuing discussion with the State Department of Revenue to firm up this option.

Dracut override discussion on 980 WCAP

Teddy Panos on the 980 WCAP Morning show had Town Manager Jim Duggan, Superintendent Steve Stone, Fire Chief Dave Brouillette and Police Chief Kevin Richardson in to talk about the need for revenue in Dracut and their hope that the town will Vote YES for Dracut in the Spring election.

Now, this is a long clip, so I challenge you to listen.. part of it at a time, or all at once.  Post your favorite part by referring to the time in your posting.


Sun story on Boston Post Cane

The Lowell Sun this morning has a more detailed story on the Boston Post Cane, where it came from, and how it came to be in the hands of Russ Taylor after all these years.

From the article:

It was around 1955, and the young Taylor was with his aunt at her friend’s father’s house. The old man had recently died, and Taylor was helping the women clean out his leftover possessions.

“She wanted to give (the cane) to somebody young who would love it and appreciate it,” Taylor said of the daughter of the deceased. “I was absolutely enthralled by it.”

He took it home to Bridge Street and fought imaginary outlaws with it, just like Bat.

He didn’t take much notice when, about a year later, the Boston Post printed its last obituary, stopped its presses and closed.

But long after the newspaper died, one of its quirkier advertising promotions would live on.

The paper had sent 700 ebony canes with engraved gold tips to towns throughout New England. Each came with instructions to give the cane, with the Post’s compliments, to the oldest male resident.

When he died, the cane was to be passed to the next oldest living male, and so on and so forth.

At a recent Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Cathy Richardson mentioned that she was searching for the original Boston Post Cane, and was hoping to find a grant to have a similar recreation done. From that point, Taylor made it known where the cane was to the Town Manager and a few of the other Selectmen. Chairman Tony Archinski surprised Richardson at the next meeting with the announcement that it had been found.

Taylor is asking that a committee be formed to manage a permanent monument for the relic, as well as create a new tradition. Selectman Tami Dristilaros mentioned to me that they could possibly put together an annual event to honor the seniors in town, and make the honorary presentation of the cane be part of that event.


High School Honor Roll – 2nd Term

High Honors

SENIORS: Timothy Cahill, Nicolet Chapman, Brittany Close, Caleigh Collamer, Abigail Cutrumbes, Maria Forte, Valerie Hines, Lauren Hould, Alexandria Hudson, Olivia Preston, Kelly Regan and Emily Sargent.

JUNIORS: Jaccob Ayotte, Matthew Cahill, Bailey Chartier and Riya Patel.

SOPHOMORES: Sarah Bazarian, Meghan Carney, Nicole Craig, Matthew Daniell, Jamiel Inocencio, Nicholas Jarek, Madelyn Jezerski, Molly Jones, Monica Kong, Jacob Leboeuf, Isabella Marciello, Leah McAnespie, Charles Ritchie, Camryn Santiago, Matthew Sideman, Skylar Unger, Mary Catherine Wahba, Xin Wang and Shane Ziemba.

FRESHMEN: Abdullah Abou Mahmoud, Jovan Aigbekaen, MacKenzie Balous, Kelly Bisson, Brooke Boermeester, Raven Coenen, Kate Cournoyer, Jocelyn Dery, Elizabeth Gacek, Samantha Havel, Sydney Hines, Liliana Jessico, Alyssa Karlson, Alexander Lambert, Megan MacKay, Divya Madhavaiya, Daniel Maille, Caroline Mercier, Katherine Morissette, Sabrina Morse, Kuzivakwashe Mvududu, Holly Nguyen, Ashley Ogwang, Leah Papageorgiou, Michaela Pepin, Alyssa Simard and Megan Tyler.


SENIORS: Tayla Abell, Alexa Ata, Erin Batherwich, Arieanna Blanchette, Ashley Boever, Alexandra Burke, Stephen Butler, Talon Carey, Noelle Chapman, Andrew Collins, Elizabeth Cormier, Kirsten Cournoyer, Erin Deloge, Hosanna DeMesa, Julia Demopoulos, Nikolas DeVincenzi, Katelyn Dickson, Linda Dixon, Matthew Dufour, Kelsey Dungan and Olivia Durkin.

Also, Michaela Fawcett, Jocelyn Frechette, Elizabeth Gaffney, Angelina Garibaldi, Jennifer Gomes, Madison Grover, Evan Gys, Cali Hill, Hayley Jasmin, Jordana Katiti, Elizabeth Khairalla, Kendra Kukulski, Lais Rebeca Laranjo, Gregory LeMasurier, Adam Martin, Alex Matte, Jillian Noble, Brandon Ouellette, Brandon Paglieroni, James Petrocchi and Maria Rondeau.

Also, Andrea Salazar, Tyler Sheehan, Daniel Silva, Lucas Spicer, Alanna Stevens, Emily Tedesco, Emma Thibodeau, Madison Trepanier, Bailey White, Hayley White, Noah White, John Yirrell, Meghan Young, Allison Zerofski, Kyle Ziemba and Mandifadza Zuvaradoka.

JUNIORS: Michelle Acevedo, Jessica Beckwith, Sarah Boermeester, Veronica Brown, Tyler Burgoyne, Katherine Daszkiewicz, Tyler DeJadon, Joshua Desrochers, Brandon DiCamillo, Matthew Doos, Matthew Drew and Kayla Duhamel.

Also. Jenna Frasier, Daniel Gacek, Alexa Galasso, Shauna Gorby, Benjamin Ingalls, Sebastian Jaramillo, Jennie Jarosh, Connor Johnston, Renee Lavoie, Alyx Luong, Sydney Margolis, Roscoe Martin, Sean Mathew, Tristan Mayall, Erika Merrill, Megan Miller, Nicole Morin and Laura Murphy.

Also, Yara Omar, Sarah Patnaude, Taylor Roberts, Ivangie Rodriguez-Urbaez, Mitchell Shaughnessy, Andrew Simpson, Christian Tasiopoulos, Daniel Wheeler, Donald Woods.

SOPHOMORES: Nicholas Ambrosini, Alexis Anzalone, Nadya Apitz, Ashley Armano, Amanda Bakas, Adam Berger, Lauren Berry, Alyssa Bigos, Logan Bissonnette, Haley Bomil, Jared Brule, Christopher Cahill, Molly Cahill, Austin Chausse, Nathan Coram and Meghan Cox.

Also, Angela D’Auteuil, Ernest Dixon, Emma Doherty, Rebecca Doiron, Katherine Donoghue, Kailey Doukszewicz, Kylie Doyle, Jacob Durand, Christian Frazier, Cameron Gagnon, Kadyn Germain, Taylor Haire, Jennah Hamze, Ezekiel Haradji, Zachary Harris, Douglas Hill, Kyle Hould, Melissa Iannuzzo, Mateus Ibarguen, Charles Kosowicz, Jacob Locker, Amber Macklin, Megan Marchionda, Ryan Masse, Katrina McConnell, Shaylee McCullough, Logan McElhinney and Erin McMeniman.

Also, Jenny Ngeth, Julia Otoski, Natalia Petitti, Ava Pintal, Jessica Poole, Shannon Rich, Colin Sargent, Emily Sarica, SpiroAnthony Stathas, Nicolas Surprenant, Natalie Tellier, Leah Thorburne, Mary Alice Trepanier, Christopher Tziotzioras, Dimitri Vieira, Haylee Warford, Sarah Wilson and Brianna Witts.

FRESHMEN: Maegan Avery, Jacqueline Beausoleil, Sarah Bennett, Gabriella Blanchette, Mikaela Blatus, Isabella Bottiggi, Mary Brouillette, Gabrielle Brown, Jacqueline Casanova, Sophia Coakley, Michaela Coalter, David Coombs, John Cormier, Michael DiSabito and James Fazio.

Also, Alexis Gardner-Kadilak, Kylie Germain, Sophia Gizelis, Michelle Goncalves, Jessica Gooch, Emilia Hovseb, Warren Keang, Kelsey Knepp, Corey Kosowicz, Anna Kouadio, Adam Laferriere, Jacen Lake, Kobi Lane, MaKendra Looney, Nemisis Lopez, Alexa Maib, Rebecca Maille, Natalie Mayo, Cameron McCullough, Jake Mercier, Sarah Mercier, Cameron Michel and Emma Moynihan.

Also, Kaleigh O’Brien, Kevin Orsula, Isabel Page, Teerth Patel, Michael Patterson, Angela Peters, William Peters, Fayth Poitras, Emily Poulin, Evan Powers, Derek Ripa, Matthew Robichaud, Felicia Ros, Matthew Rossetti, Emma Sancartier, McKenzie Snowdon, Taylor Stacy, Samantha Talbot, Cynthia Tran, Steven Tran, Zackary Walton, Nathan Warmuth, Julie Williams, Emily Zerofski and Madison Zolkos.