A guide to help Gateway City schools capitalize on a major opportunity
The Gateway Cities Journal
This morning Gateway City leaders received hopeful news when the Joint Committee on Education unveiled a $1.5 billion plan to bring state aid in line with the resource needs of K-12 public school districts over a seven-year period. In the words of the State House News Service, Gateway Cities have been waiting 1,400 days for this announcement. From early education to Early College, this funding finally puts them in a position to realize the many worthy aspirations they outlined back in 2013 with the Gateway Cities Vision for Dynamic Community-Wide Learning Systems.
To make the most of this moment, we firmly believe Gateway Cities will need to strengthen their capacity to provide strong local accountability. As students return this month, Gateway City principals are quietly assembling their school councils. If past is prologue, these bodies will meet a few times, provide a sounding board, and give check-off-the-box support for the school’s annual improvement plan. This year must be different.
As recent MassINC research demonstrates, collaborative governance and a strategy that the school community is committed to holding itself accountable for executing is crucial to success. This year’s state budget already provides significantly higher funding to Gateway City schools, giving many communities opportunities to invest in new staff, programs, and instructional materials for the first time in years.
The education committee’s Chapter 70 bill requires districts to create detailed plans for how they will spend new dollars and metrics to track their success. While it is unclear how the state will build the capacity of schools to undertake this important work, we firmly believe school councils are the best vehicle.
At present, there is almost no guidance available for school leaders and school communities looking to build high-performing school councils. Alexis Polokoff, a graduate student at UMass-Amherst, spent the summer working with us to develop a guide to help fill the void.
We are calling this resource “A Living Guide to Successful School Councils” because it is very much a work in progress. We hope that Version 1.0 will offer helpful information, but we also acknowledge that there is much to learn. We encourage school leaders to use it and give us feedback, so we can improve upon it.
Gateway City leaders now have a major opportunity to build learning systems that take advantage of their many unique assets as urban centers. With products like this new guide, MassINC will work to provide valuable support over the coming years.
Housing & Economic Development
The State Gaming Commission denies opening Brockton Fairgrounds casino proposal for reconsideration stating that the reasons given by developers were not sufficient and reconsideration would be unfair for other casinos that might want to apply for the license.
MassDevelopment hires a new TDI Fellow for Chicopee.
The Haverhill City Council tables a luxury condo development after hearing complaints from neighbors regarding location and privacy concerns.
A new $18 million distribution facility and corporate headquarters for Plumber’s Supply Company in New Bedford is now fully operational.
The Pittsfield City Council accepts a $27,000 design grant from the Stanton Foundation for a planned dog park at Burbank Park.
Officials in Quincy worried about urban sprawl hope to revise zoning to protect residential neighborhoods.
TransitMatters, a transit advocacy group, releases a new analysis of regional rail with a focus on improving the Worcester line.
Half-price reverse commute fares between Boston and Foxboro get a test. (Hopefully, we’ll see a similar pilot for Gateway Cities soon).
Lawrence eliminates fares on three bus routes for the next two years in the hope of increasing public transit ridership.
Transportation is the largest barrier for Massachusetts residents to applying for federal food assistance benefits, according to an audit released by State Auditor Suzanne Bump.
J.H. Lynch & Sons wins the $15 million contract to remake Kelley Square in Worcester.
Arron Renn says midsize cities are having major success improving transit. A new study in the Journal of the American Planning Association finds Uber and Lyft are improving mobility for residents of lower-income neighborhoods.
John Vieau, the City Council president, and Joseph Morissette, a police officer turned principal, advance in the race for Chicopee mayor.
Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia places a distant second in the preliminary city election against first-place finisher Paul Coogan, a member of the city’s school committee.
Fall River state Rep. Carole Fiola files legislation to put local sign-off for marijuana businesses in the hands of city councils or municipal bodies in the wake of the indictment of the city’s mayor.
Pittsfield City Councilor Melissa Mazzeo, followed by incumbent Mayor Linda Tyer, advance to the mayoral final in Pittsfield.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno cruises to the top spot in the preliminary election and will face Yolanda Cancel in the November final.
The Gateway Cities legislative caucus talks school funding with a focus on funding charter school reimbursements. In a Boston Globe opinion column, Governor Baker makes the case for his Chapter 70 funding plan.
The Boston Globe launches a new series exploring race, class, and opportunity with a story comparing Boston to Newton.
A new report from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation explores the use of technology in linguistically diverse classrooms.
A group of nature enthusiasts gathers in Pittsfield to study the ecosystem of Springside Park.
The Worcester City Council approves a ban on plastic bags at checkout.
Writing for NextCity, the Telegram’s Cyrus Moulton looks at local efforts to combat climate change in Providence and Worcester. More than one hundred students are expected to protest at Worcester City Hall as part of a worldwide youth climate strike on Friday.
The Vietnam War Memorial Moving Wall will be in Attleboro from September 26th to September 30th.
The TDI-led Activate Mill Street project in Fitchburg gains momentum.
Haverhill hosts its first ArtWalk featuring art galleries, restaurants, and other creative small businesses.
Lowell unveils a new 16-foot sculpture dedicated to the history of water power in Utopian Park.
A 4,450-pound hand-forged anchor returns to Essex Street at a ceremony Monday afternoon, celebrating the new expansion of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.
StArt on the Street in Worcester has over 300 vendors at its packed festival.
FastCompany looks at living in soft cities.Communities & People
After selling a company to Bain Capital, Brockton native Barry Cosgrove creates a $1 million scholarship to help students from his hometown attend Suffolk Law School.