Alisa V. Brewer's blog

Regionalization Study Committee Report 06-26-10 for Four Towns Meeting Tues 06-29-10

Attached are the pieces (report plus appendices A-F) of the Regionalization Study Committee Report of 06-26-10 that will be presented at the Four Towns Meeting Tuesday 06-29-10.

Remember that this Four Towns Meeting will be held in the Middle School Auditorium at 7 pm Tuesday 06-29-10. There will be very limited time for public comment since so many representatives of the Four Towns will likely have questions. The meeting will be presented live by ACTV.

I'm sure the schools will get this material, and that night's agenda, posted soon, but in the meantime -- enjoy!


Vote when to Vote! part 2

Strategic Partnership Agreement with UMass 082307

Here are the documents I referred to at
my usual blog

They are each almost 3 MB as they are multi-page documents, and no, I don't have them available as text.

FY07 Cuts lists to be used as memory jogger only, as they were not final but are at hand

Good luck with these -- they weren't final... look at text in currENt BuDGET materials poSTed on school and towN sites foR conText.

Also the FY08 muNicipal cut list as printed in the front of The Big muNicipal Budget book.

I have the library cuts in aN email somewhere But tHAT's small potatoes in comPARisoN:-)

New School Committee Member Appointed to finish Alisa's School Committee term

On April 27, 2007 the Amherst Select Board and Amherst School Committee met in Joint Session to choose someone to finish the School Committee term left open when I resigned due to my election to the Amherst Select Board. The appointed person serves from the time they get sworn in until the next election, under Mass General Laws. That person is Chrystel Romero, who also ran in the 2007 annual election.

Here is the newspaper coverage of the meetings where the new School Committee member was selected.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, Saturday April 28, 2007

School Committee member is chosen; Brighty asked to resign
By MARY CAREY Staff Writer

AMHERST - A joint panel of School Committee and Select Board members voted 5-4 to appoint Chrystel Romero to a vacant position on the committee at a meeting that began with calls for the resignation of the Regional School Committee chairwoman.

Four candidates were in the running: Romero, John Foy Lord and Catherine Sanderson, who both received no votes, and Yaniris Fernandez, who got four.

The meeting began with Elaine Brighty, chairwoman of the Regional School Committee, announcing that she had contacted four Select Board members with information about Romero that she thought they should know. Acting town attorney Gary Brackett, as well as Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Pepyne, determined that it was not a violation of the Open Meeting Law to do so, Brighty said.

But Select Board members Anne Awad and Hwei-Ling Greeney said they were "very disturbed" by Brighty's calls divulging an alleged, unspecified shortcoming in Romero's qualifications.

Awad said she contacted the state Ethics Commission, because she thinks Brighty potentially violated the privacy of a candidate who had no opportunity to respond to the allegations.

Greeney said of Brighty, "I have lost my confidence and trust in her ability to serve. ... I must ask her for her resignation."

The Select Board and School Committee had convened to appoint a committee member to succeed Alisa Brewer, a former member of the School Committee who won a seat on the Select Board on March 27.

Romero ran for School Committee in the same election, losing by 15 votes to Kathleen Anderson. Members of the joint panel who voted for her on Friday, including Anderson, said one of the reasons was that Romero had mounted a good campaign.

Romero said the voters had spoken on election day, when she was almost elected. As for what Brighty might have said about her qualifications to Select Board members, Romero said, "I think that would probably be a better question to address to Elaine."

Brighty did not make public what that was.

The other panel members who voted for Romero - Greeney, Awad and Select Board members Gerald Weiss and Robert Kusner - said that Romero, a single mother and renter, comes from a socioeconomic class that is underrepresented on the School Committee. They expressed their confidence that she would make some families feel more comfortable, because they would have a voice on the committee.

Brewer, Brighty and Amherst School Committee members Andrew Churchill and Sonia Correa-Pope voted for Fernandez, saying that she would be an asset to the panel because of her close involvement in Crocker Farm Elementary School.

More than 50 percent of Crocker Farm students are considered to be living in poverty, according to federal standards, and it has been identified by the state as being a school in need of improvement.

Fernandez, the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants who never went to high school, defended her doctoral dissertation in education hours before Friday's meeting. She has worked with the A Better Chance program, Amherst Educational Foundation and Crocker Farm School Governance Council, among a long list of other qualifications.

Sunday Republican, Sunday April 29, 2007

Amherst school board post filled

AMHERST - She lost the general election by 15 votes, but on Friday night Chrystel D. Romero was elected to the School Committee in a joint Select Board and School Committee vote.

Romero, who is of Puerto Rican descent, said she was representing the voices of single mothers and renters as well as people of color.

The two panels met to elect a replacement for Alisa V. Brewer, who resigned from the committee a week after winning a seat on the Select Board.

Four applied for the position and Romero won in a 5-to-4 vote with Yaniris M. Fernandez receiving the other four votes. Fernandez is the assistant dean of faculty at Hampshire College.

Others seeking the seat were John Foy Lord, a lawyer, and Catherine D. Anderson, an Amherst College psychology professor.

The meeting also included discussion about the actions of School Committee member Elaine L. Brighty in connection with the filling of the board vacancy.

She read a statement disclosing that she had informally talked to four Select Board members separately by telephone to reveal some information about Romero, who had worked in town schools.

The district attorney's office had been asked about whether that violated the Open Meeting Law, Brighty said but was told it constituted no violation.

Still, Select Board members were upset with the calls, and member Hwei-Ling T. Greeney said that Brighty violated a code of ethics and should resign.

Greeney also raised concerns about whether the members could elect a new committee member fairly and that the Ethics Commission has been asked to look into the matter.

But after about 30 minutes of discussion, town counsel advised the board and committee they could proceed with the election.

Friday April 27, 2007 5:45 pm in the High School Library to fill one vacancy on the Amherst School Committee

Please pass the word on the upcoming JOINT meeting of the Amherst School Committee & Amherst Select Board in the High School Library on Tuesday April 27, 2007 at 5:45 pm to appoint the Amherst School Committee member to complete the term I vacated. The term runs until the 2008 Annual Town Election in late March 2008. This joint meeting provides an interesting interview process and is *much* easier than a campaign:-) so no one who has serious interest in the position should hesitate to apply.

Joint meeting of the Amherst School Committee & Amherst Select Board in the High School Library on Tuesday April 27, 2007 at 5:45 pm to fill one vacancy on the Amherst School Committee until the 2008 Annual Town Election in late March 2008.

Candidates will be interviewed during this posted meeting of the Amherst School Committee and Amherst Select Board. The meeting will begin at 5:45 pm. Please note that while this meeting is being held according to Open Meeting Law, and all are welcome to observe, there will be no opportunity for public comment regarding the candidates and/or the position, and no questions from anyone other than the members of the Select Board and School Committee will be taken.

The vote will be held by roll call in open session, with each of the five Select Board members and four current School Committee members stating their preferred candidate, and the election is decided by a simple majority.

To become a candidate, simply contact the Amherst Town Clerk's office to have your name verified as a registered Amherst voter, 259-3035. Sandra Burgess, Amherst Town Clerk, will ensure your name is then forwarded to the assistant to the Superintendent, Debbie Westmoreland. You should also submit a letter of interest to Debbie Westmoreland 362-1823. The letter should include a summary of qualifications and/or experience and/or reasons for interest in serving as a member of the Amherst School Committee; a resume may also be attached if desired. Copies of all such materials will be provided to the Select Board and School Committee for each individual member's review at least 72 hours prior to the Joint meeting.

Contact Amherst School Committee Chair Andrew Churchill 549-1786, or Debbie Westmoreland 362-1823, if you have questions.

HWM FY2008 Budget Released April 11, 2007

from the DLS (Division of Local Services)
On April 11, 2007 the House Ways and Means Committee (HWM) released their version of the FY2008 budget. The Division of Local Services has posted updated local aid estimates based on the HWM budget recommendations. The appropriations for chapter 70, lottery and additional assistance are consistent with the amounts in the legislative resolution approved on April 4, 2007.

Other than the Chapter 70 allocations appearing in the legislative resolution approved on April 4, 2007, the only significant change between the HWM proposals and the amounts appearing under the House 1 column (original Governor's budget) are the reimbursements for real estate tax exemptions granted to Veterans, Blind Persons and Surviving Spouses. We have updated these estimates to reflect the estimated increases in state reimbursement for new exemption amounts. Chapter 260 of Acts of 2006 as amended by Chapter 310 of the Acts of 2006 increased the exemptions amounts granted to these real estate taxpayers. Since communities should be accounting for the increased exemption amounts in the overlay account, we are showing the increased state reimbursement on the preliminary cherry sheet as a revenue source to offset the increases to local overlay accounts. In October of 2006, the Bureau of Municipal Finance Law issued
Bulletin 2006-15B
detailing the changes to this program.

It is important for local officials to remember that local aid estimates are still preliminary and are subject to changes as the legislative budget process unfolds.

For the benefit of local officials, the Department of Education (DOE) has released updated FY08 updated FY08 required local contributions and net school spending
based on the the amounts in the legislative resolution approved on April 4, 2007.

If you have questions regarding the updated local aid estimates, please contact Lisa Juszkiewicz, Jared Curtis or Donnette Benvenuto at (617)626-2384.

Local Aid Resolution: Updated Chapter 70 figures

from the DLS (Division of Local Services)
On April 4, 2007, the House of Representatives and State Senate approved House Bill 3972, a resolution concerning the three major local aid accounts. This resolution represents a legislative agreement as to the amounts of Chapter 70, Additional Assistance, and Lottery aid to be paid to municipalities and regional school districts in FY08. The Legislature approved this measure to provide reliable estimates for local governments to use in their budget planning process.

You can download the amounts for each city, town and regional school district via Excel spreadsheet.

Note that while the Local Aid Resolution fixes the amount for Chapter 70, Additional Assistance, and Lottery aid, all other Cherry Sheet programs (e.g., Regional Transportation reimbursement) will be subject to debate as the House and Senate prepare their budget proposals. The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to release their version of the budget on April 11th and the Senate version will be available in May.

Read Alisa's Brochure and/or watch re-broadcast of LWV Candidate's Night

Schedule too tight to attend a neighborhood coffee? Don't recall getting a mailing? Upload Alisa's brochure so you can read it, magnify it, etc. on your computer screen. If you need some printed copies to share, please email us or call 413-549-5539.

Check out the ACTV Channel 17 re-broadcast schedule for LWV Candidate's Night held March 15, which included candidates for the contested seats of School Committee, Town Moderator, and Select Board, as well as brief statements for uncontested seats.

Last Update: this being Sunday the 25th, it's the last time I'll update this schedule:

Monday March 26 at 9:30 am
Tuesday March 27 at 10:30 am

(figure on 90 minutes of tape).

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