JEERS to the mystery that still surrounds school spending in Methuen. At a meeting last week, the School Committee was hashing out how the department fell into a $4 million hole at the end of fiscal 2018 that became a juggernaut for the following year’s budget, when it became painfully clear that not everyone knew what was happening.
The brutal fiscal 2018 budget would have eliminated 68 jobs in the schools, potentially making up $2.3 million of that shortfall, but instead nearly five in six of those positions was filled. Consultant Seth Racine noted the jobs were for student services and areas of particular need. Still, the decision to fill jobs was not shared with everyone, at least according to School Committee member Jana DiNatale.
“At some point it must have been somewhat clear that we were hiring for positions that we didn’t have funding for,” she told administrators at the meeting. “As that was happening, can you please explain for us why those decisions were not brought to the attention of the committee?”
According to reporter Breanna Edelstein’s account of last week’s School Committee session, it wasn’t the only surprise. It also came to light that committee member Nicholas DiZoglio discussed spending concerns with Ian Gosselin, the business administrator, and relayed concerns to Mayor James Jajuga.
But not everyone on the committee knew about those discussions.
If there’s a silver lining to all of this, it’s that Methuen schools are under new leadership. Superintendent Brandi Kwong has already shuffled the deck, moving payroll functions within the business office. But it will take much more than that to right Methuen schools.
Without a doubt the remedy requires open, forthright communication between administrators and members of the School Committee.
JEERS to the brazen, thoughtless thieves who apparently swiped envelopes from a Lawrence funeral home last week while friends and family of Taysha Rohena Silva, 11, were memorializing her.
Silva’s father and grandmother, Roberto Silva and Brenda Ortiz, called police to report about five envelopes missing from the Diaz-Healy Funeral Home, 107 South Broadway, Monday afternoon. They likely contained cash and were lifted at some point during services for the girl who died in a head-on crash July 13.
The family was collecting money for her funeral and for four others badly injured in the crash. Thousands of dollars have been collected.
There seemed to be some confusion about the envelopes that went missing, according to a police report, which noted that Silva and Ortiz were “in no mental state to remember” who they might have been passed to. Let’s hope it was all just a matter of things disappearing in a whirlwind of activity, sadness and grief.
Otherwise, how unfeeling and unthinking could someone be than to filch the donations for a family in distress? If the envelopes were in fact stolen, may the police quickly find those responsible for taking them.
CHEERS to the next chapter for the Merrimack Valley YMCA.
The regional nonprofit with branches in Andover, Lawrence and Methuen, as well as two overnight camps in New Hampshire and a day camp in Salem, N.H., on Friday announced a new CEO. The YMCA looked inward to fill the job previously held by Gary Morelli, by naming Frank Kenneally, who has worked for the organization for 30 years.
Kenneally, 51, has touched most, if not all, of the YMCA’s many programs and services during that career. He started as a lifeguard and camp counselor in college and has variously worked as aquatics director, senior program director, executive director, district executive director, vice president of operations and, most recently, chief operating officer.
Peter Lafond, chairman of the board of directors, said Kenneally was a “unanimous choice” to be the “visionary leader” who will take the regional YMCA forward.
His work is cut out for him. The YMCA is expanding its Lawrence facility, and so far has raised about half of the $6 million it needs to finish the project. Kenneally said he aims to expand programming in Lawrence once the facility is upgraded. The regional YMCA serves 35,000 people.
Best of luck to Kenneally as his begins his new job, one that he was clearly enthusiastic about during an interview Friday with reporter Bill Kirk: “To be the CEO of the Merrimack Valley YMCA, in my home region, I’m so excited to get this opportunity.”