Monday, August 7, 2017

Lynn School Committee 2017 Q & A: Natasha Megie-Maddrey

Natasha Megie-Maddrey is one of ten candidates vying for one of the six seats on the Lynn School Committee. Here Natasha discusses some of the major issues facing LPS and why Lynn voters should cast their vote for her in November. 

            You previously ran for School Committee in 2015. How have you stayed involved in public education  related activities since then and why did you decide to run again?

I have always been really involved in my children’s schools, as part of the PTO’s and helping in whatever way I can. I’ve also participated in several community events including community build days, clean up days, and the May Day March, to name a few. I have also talked to several parents over the last two years, many of which are concerned about communication, bullying, safety, and special needs. I decided to run again because I want to teach my children that it doesn’t matter if you fail at something, it matters how you get back up. I want to be a public servant and help to bring about positive change to the Lynn Public Schools.

Funding for the Lynn Public School district has been a key issue in recent years. What are your thoughts on the school systems current financial state and ways it could potentially be addressed?

The Lynn Public Schools should be funded at 100 percent, and anything less than that is simply unacceptable. I think this problem can be addressed by applying for more grants, and getting more money into our school system. The children are the future and we need to fully fund education.

There have been a few contentious votes recently in regard to education including the Question 2 ballot vote on charter schools and the Lynn vote to build a new Pickering Middle School. How would you approach taking a stance on issues that might be polarizing within a given community as an elected official?

I think it is very important to have community meetings when there are issues that might be polarizing within a given community.  It is also important to respond to voter’s emails and phone calls in a timely manner. I will always take a stance that is in the best interest of all the children in Lynn. I voted in favor of building a new Pickering Middle School. Clearly we needed to do more research into the location, but the Pickering Middle School is in disrepair and needs to be repaired or replaced. We also need to do a better job at maintaining our schools so they don’t fall into such disrepair. 

If you could spearhead any one initiative related to LPS, what would it be and why? Can voters expect actual leadership on this issue from you, if you were to be elected to the Lynn School Committee? 

If I could spearhead one initiative it would be special needs advocacy. I have two children with special needs, and through my own experiences, I have learned how hard the special needs system is to navigate. I want to have several know your rights seminars for parents and caregivers to ensure that students that need IEP’s (individual education plans) get them, and once they get them, to make sure they are being followed. Parents and caregivers are the best advocates for their children, but they must be given the tools in order to know how to best advocate for their children.

Why should voters consider voting for you for Lynn School Committee?

I am running for school committee because I want to be a voice for parents and fight for the education all the children in Lynn deserve. As a parent of 5 children ages 10-21, I have a vested interest in ensuring that we are providing not just a good education, but an excellent education regardless of the particular zip code you happen to live in. I will be a tireless advocate, and will be responsive, and always vote in favor of what would be best for all the children in Lynn.

For more information:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

2017 Lynn Municipal Candidates

The candidates for this year's Lynn municipal election are set with many newcomers running for various city offices. The Ward 2 Councilor race is the most competitive with four candidates vying to make it to the General Election.

The primary will be held on September 12, 2017 and the General Election on Tuesday, November 7, 2017. 

  • Judith Kennedy (Incumbent)
  • Thomas McGee

Councilor At-Large (Maximum of 4 Votes) 
  • Buzzy Barton (Incumbent)
  • Brian Field 
  • Jaime Figueroa
  • Richard Ford
  • John Ladd
  • Brian LaPierre (Incumbent)
  • Hong Net (Incumbent)
  • Taso Nikolakopoulos

Ward 1
  • Wayne Lozzi (Incumbent) 
  • William Shea III

Ward 2
  • Peter Grocki
  • Christopher Magrane
  • Gina O'Toole
  • Richard Starbard

Ward 3
  • Darren Cyr (Incumbent)
  • George Meimeteas

Ward 4
  • Eliud Alcala
  • Richard Colucci (Incumbent)

Ward 5
  • Diana Chakoutis (Incumbent)
  • Marven Hyppolite

Ward 6
  • Peter Capano (Incumbent)

Ward 7 
  • Jay Walsh (Incumbent)

School Committee (Maximum of 6 Votes)
  • Cherish Casey
  • Brian Castellanos
  • Donna Coppola (Incumbent)
  • John Ford (Incumbent)
  • Lorraine Gately (Incumbent)
  • Elizabeth Gervacio
  • Natasha Megie-Maddrey
  • Jessica Murphy
  • Jared Nicholson (Incumbent)
  • Michael Satterwhite

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Lynn Schools Facing $3.5 Million Deficit in FY17

The Lynn Public School district was in the news recently as the city continues to deal with a school spending deficit that has led to the threats of decreases in Chapter 70 state aid. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's most recent report indicates that the $825,689 shortfall mentioned in the Daily Item article was for fiscal year (FY) 2016 which ended on June 30, 2016. For FY 2017 which ends at the end of June 2017, the DESE is currently reporting a shortfall of over $3.5 million.

FY 16
FY 17
Total Net School Spending Requirement
Actual Net School Spending

In order to avoid penalties, the city would have to allocate the additional monies to the school budget by the end of June. It is unclear whether the state would permit carryovers up to the customary 5% below the net school spending requirement as Lynn was under that threshold for FY16 but the state opted to enact an $825,689 penalty as opposed to carrying that amount over to FY17.

As previously reported (here here here), this is not the first year that Lynn has dealt with deficits related to its net school spending. 

Since FY11, Lynn has had school spending deficits in varying amounts.

Looking ahead to FY 18, which begins on July 1, 2017, Lynn is expected to allocate just over $200 million on public education based on preliminary DESE reports (excluding any potential carryovers from FY17). This is based on a student population of 16,852 (including students attending charter and out of district schools).

Approximately, three-quarters of that allocation is to come from Chapter 70 state aid, while the other quarter will come from the city. This has been standard practice in Lynn's education spending as the majority of Lynn's required net school spending has come from Chapter 70 state aid. The House Ways and Means budget currently puts Lynn's Chapter 70 funding allocation slightly higher than the initial projection at $153,442,426 (Sections 2 & 3).

Compliance with net school spending totals is continuously in flux as the fiscal year has not ended and review of spending amounts occurs on an ongoing basis. While this is subject to change, Lynn is still facing a considerable under-funding of public education.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lynners Weigh In on Recent New Schools' Vote

On March 21st, Lynn voters headed to the polls to weigh in the proposal to build two new middle schools in the city, one on Parkland Avenue and the other on McManus Field. When the votes were ultimately tallied, the 16.32% of registered voters who turned out rejected the city's plan. Some city residents were pleased with the outcome while others were of a different opinion. Andrea, a native Lynner in her late twenties with a young child, said she was initially a 'No' voter who, after learning more about the project, was ultimately in favor of the project and voted 'Yes.' When asked what she thought the vote came down to, she said:
I talked to a lot of voters on the hub dialer and I would say the biggest thing people voiced was misinformation about the Pickering location (it's Lynn woods, they are taking three homes, it's cemetery land) but in reality I think people didn't want their taxes to go up because they don't have kids in the system.
Another native Lynn resident also in her late twenties and expecting her first child submitted the following comment in the wake of the city's vote:
It is upsetting that this country spends more money on penitentiaries than it does on education. We live in a community with a rising crime rate and the only way to stop that is to educate our children. The conditions of our schools are embarrassing. Cramped, low light, falling ceilings, and water leaks are some of the many things that the children in our community have to deal with and all those elements can impair a child’s ability to focus. I understand the fear that new schools could impact taxes in our community and since our community is comprised of working class individuals, every penny counts. But can we really put a price on education and the decrease of crime in our community? Even if you do not have a child in the school system, everyone can benefit from a lower crime rate.
Scott, a Midwest native with two children in the Lynn Public School system, had this to say:
I was very disappointed in the recent vote in which an overwhelming number of Lynn residents voted against replacing the decrepit Pickering Middle School with two new schools. While I have only lived in Lynn for ten years, I have been very active on issues related to public education. I have spent many hours meeting with parents and community organizers and attending school committee meetings. I have two children in the schools. The older one, my daughter, attended Brickett Elementary School, where my son is still a student, and this building, like many of the schools in the city, was built before the Great Depression and before the first World War. When its one hundred year anniversary came in 2011, it was acknowledged, but not celebrated. Like most schools in the city, this building needs to be replaced. 

The citizens of the city of Lynn have neglected the upkeep of their more than twenty schools for over a century. The city has had many difficult periods economically in that time, and that accounts for part of this neglect. But the recent no vote suggests that there is also a belief that the physical structure of the schools, as bad as they are, is acceptable. Either because Lynners do not expect much from their schools, or because they have no have children or expect to educate them privately or in charter schools, citizens seem to be happy to let the schools remain as they are. There was a grassroots campaign to prevent new taxes, but there is no new grassroots campaign demanding better facilities in its wake.

My daughter currently attends the new Marshall Middle School. My family moved from one part of Lynn to another and our primary concern for the location was whether or not she would be able to attend this school. We love it. If I were in the one of the neighborhoods that had the possibility of a new middle school dangled in front of me only to have it taken away, I would be giving serious consideration to moving. The recent vote asked whether or not the citizens would fund the building of two specific schools, but as far as I’m concerned the real question is this: do the residents of Lynn love their town enough to replace ten schools or more so that our children, all of them, can get the education that they and their city deserve. If it is not, the city of Lynn will always remain a place that people end up when they cannot afford to live anywhere else.
Given that she has a young child, I asked Andrea if she had considered moving, as Scott mentioned, in the wake of the city's vote; understandably she is torn saying: 
Yes and no...I love Lynn. But honestly after the city voted this way I feel like I would actually consider moving whereas before I wouldn't entertain the idea. If we stay in Lynn, this 'No' vote and the future of LPS may change our choice on public versus private school. I never wanted private school but for K-8 we may seriously consider a private or charter school if the city doesn't get new schools. I want the best for my baby and the city has a few years to figure that out!  
She also added:
 I think families with young kids may look to relocate due to this.  
The long-term repercussions of this vote will remain to be seen particularly after the most recent development in this story - the city's decision to withdraw its application for new schools. This decision likely means that the construction of new schools will not occur at this point until at least the year 2020 at the earliest. Before then, the city will continue to grapple with an increasing student population and aging school buildings as well as the question as to whether split sessions will need to be implemented at the middle school level. Continuing discussion around this issue is also bound to be a factor in this year's mayoral election

Do you have thoughts on this issue? Submit them to

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lynn Dropout Rates 2016

In addition to the most recent graduation rates, the Massachusetts DESE also reported the newest annual dropout rates at the state, district and individual school levels. Annual dropout rates refer to the percentage of students from any grade 9 through 12 that drop out of school in a given school year and do not re-enroll by the next October. Statewide, the annual dropout rate in 2015-16 was 1.9% with no change from the previous year. Below are the dropout rates for the state's ten urban districts.
Lynn's 4.9% dropout rate was the equivalent of 210 students leaving school during the 2015-16 school year. The previous year Lynn's dropout was 3.8% (or 157 students).

Dropout rates at the individual school level in Lynn varied. Lynn English has seen an increase in the dropout rate recently with a 65% increase over the previous year. Lynn Tech, on the other hand, has seen a pretty steady decline in dropouts over the last five years.
At the subgroup level, there were differences in dropout rates. For example, male students in Lynn dropped out at a rate of 6.1% in 2015-16 compared to 3.5% for female students. 

All data taken from:

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

2016 Lynn Graduation Rates

The Massachusetts DESE just released 2016 4-year graduation rates and noted that for the 10th consecutive year, that graduation rates improved statewide. Last year, the state graduation rate was 87.5% up slightly from in 2015. Below are the newest grad rates for Massachusetts' ten urban districts.

 Over the past decade, Lawrence has seen a 75% increase in its graduation rate.

In Lynn, the graduation rate has been steadily improving over the last five years with a slight dip between 2014 and 2015. Overall, however, the city's graduation rate has improved 17% since 2006. 

At the individual high school level, graduation rates vary although they all fall within a relatively small range. 

Lynn Tech's graduation rate has been improving, going from approximately 60% ten years ago to 77.3% in 2016. Fecteau-Leary, Lynn's alternative school, has also seen an improvement in its graduation rate with a 33% improvement over the last five years. 

All data taken from: