By: DJ Deeb – April, 2016
After several years of asking for an updated Capital Improvement Plan for Methuen Public Schools, Facilities Director Bruce Stella presented a comprehensive 5-year plan for Facilities and Maintenance to members of the School Committee to review at our March 28th Workshop Meeting. Currently, the Methuen School Committee is working with Methuen School Administrators to prepare the Fiscal year 2017 budget and the Capital Improvement Plan was presented as part of that planning process.
Members of the Methuen School Committee are in their initial stages of preparing a Fiscal Year 2017 budget for consideration by the Methuen City Council. This is always a challenge each year because the budget is based on a foundation formula set by the State and these figures as well as State aid to Methuen is usually not known until the late spring when the Massachusetts State Legislature establishes their annual budget for the Commonwealth and releases the final figures for Chapter 70 funds that they will provide for school districts throughout the Commonwealth.
One crucial piece to this planning encompasses the local 5-year Capital Improvement Plan for Facilities and Maintenance for Methuen Public Schools. In campaigning for re-election last year, I made the case regarding the need for an updated plan as did several other School Committee members. I am pleased to report that this important piece has finally been put together. Methuen Public Schools Facilities Director Bruce Stella is to be commended for compiling a very comprehensive and detailed Plan for our future. In his presentation, Stella noted that the 5-Year Plan “identifies the need for financing capital projects, keeps the Committee informed about future needs and projects, and encourages careful project planning and design to avoid costly mistakes and help our school community reach its desired goals.”
It should be noted that the Capital Improvement Plan addresses the current and anticipated needs of Methuen’s five school buildings: 1) Comprehensive Grammar School; 2) Marsh Grammar School; 3) Tenney Grammar School; 4) Timony Grammar School; and 5) Methuen High School. It also contains a plan for maintaining the Central Administration Building, which houses our Administrators. Some of the projects being planned for include boiler repair/replacements, roof repairs, wall patching, window replacements, and door repairs. Obviously, having a 5-year plan and budgeting enables the school district to plan for maintenance and to spread out the cost over the next 5 years in order to budget for what needs to be done and save the taxpayers significant money over the long-term.
On another note, Technology Director Ed Lussier has been doing a commendable job researching new technology and software programs to integrate in Methuen Public Schools to allow teachers and staff to better communicate with students and staff, post assignments, record grades, and map curricula lessons. A recommendation will be forthcoming on this shortly as part of the budget process.
Over the next few months, members of the Methuen School Committee and the Administrative team will be working together to plan for the future and prepare a budget for next year that addresses the needs of our students while ensuring fiscal responsibility for the taxpayers of our city. It is important that this budget meets the needs of all of our stakeholders. I will continue to keep Valley Patriot readers informed of these developments in the months ahead.
D.J. Deeb is a Methuen resident and member of the Methuen School Committee. Deeb is an Adjunct Professor of History/Government at Bunker Hill Community College and an Adjunct Political Science Instructor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He teaches Social Studies full-time at Reading Memorial High School. He is the author of Israel, Palestine, and the Quest for Middle East Peace (University Press, 2013) and The Collapse of Middle East Peace (IUniverse, 2003).