Sunday, February 14, 2016

Strategic Partnership Backstory

UMass is by far the town's largest employer

The 3.5 year Strategic Partnership agreement hurriedly signed around Christmas is pretty much a status quo deal -- which is to say lousy -- and only provided $120,000 in new monies for "various services the town provides to the university and its faculty, staff and students, including educating K-12 students who live in tax-exempt housing and first responder services."

The combined budget of Amherst Public Safety Departments (Police/Fire/Dispatch) comes to $10 million and about 20% of those resources go towards dealing with UMass students on and off campus, or about $2 million.

In addition School Superintendent Maria Geryk told Town Meeting last year there were 56 children coming into Amherst Public Schools from tax exempt family housing at Umass for a cost to Amherst taxpayers of $1.2 million.

Interestingly in the original 2007 Strategic Agreement UMass clearly stated that if Mark's Meadow Elementary School should close (which it did soon thereafter) they would come back to the bargaining table to discuss the cost of educating children from their tax exempt housing.

Not only did they not come back to reopen the agreement after they took back the School of Education building, but just a few months ago UMass demolished the $200,000 town owned portable classrooms that were located to the rear of the building.

So I wondered how much work went into the new Strategic Partnership that was 3.5 years overdue when finally signed.  My sources told me Nancy Buffone, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations, was the main point person on the academic side.

And of course Town Manager John Musante and his sudden replacement Dave Ziomek were in charge on the town side.

I'll let you decide ...


Took six weeks and cost $275


22 comments:

Ralph Reed said...

Good work providing some matter to the media vacuum around local political economics. The precipitous decline in institutions practicing "journalism" has been dismaying.

Larry Kelley said...

Thanks Ralph.

Amherst could use another two or three full time reporters just to cover the town, and another two or three to cover UMass.

Anonymous said...

No smoking gun or conspiracy - very boring emails

Larry Kelley said...

Sometimes things that are not said are the most telling.

Dr. Ed said...

Oh, there's a smoking gun there Larry -- the 3,868 on-line students --- that's almost 1/5 the number of traditional on-campus undergrads!

If the number grows a bit more, you could get what you want -- a student-free UMass.
Also faculty-free as they teach from home, and spend their $$$ at home, and....

I also noticed the recycling water bit, you want to take showers in sewerage effluent?

Anonymous said...

Its really nor fair to count responses to off campus incidents as something UMass should compensate for. Those occur and either involve tenants or guests at apartments or homes that are taxed. Certainly it wouldn't be right to double tax on those tenants. And as far as the guests, if you have a guest from another town at your home and they should require police, fire or EMS...do you expect Amherst to be compensated by the town of their origin? No. You do not.

Anonymous said...

Oh Ed, if only you had a job to occupy your mind.

Anonymous said...

The Gazette currently has six full-time reporters.

Larry Kelley said...

But only one who covers Amherst.

How many did they have 20 years ago?

Anonymous said...

It does not cost $21,000 to add a student to the current system, the incremental cost should be lower or higher depending on where Amherst schools are relative to their capacity. My understanding is that there is capacity, which means underused resources, which means the incremental cost is lower.

Also, you can likely add one good learner (you know, the half of us that could have learned that 12 years of crap in 2) for $5k and a learning disabled, handicapped kid could cost $55k per year.

Everyone I have ever talked to about school budgets that works in a school system says that most of the money is diverted into two places, beyond the essentials. Excess administration and the learning disabled.

The excess administration is just that, excess.

The excess due to the learning disabled should be addressed. At a minimum, each region could have a special school for the learning disabled, to make sure that those that are not disabled are not put in the same learning units and to do so more efficiently.

Then the special ed schools could have focus and efficiency to get the learning disabled students to some base level. The average or smarter kids could then go through the process in far less than 12 years. This will save money and give them back the most precious resource wasted by school....youth. These kids could play more, spend more time with family or get to work supporting their families if in need. This could help address so much welfare, especially the countless on school welfare.

Think about it. Just the savings by knocking 2 or 6 years off of a smart kid's education is huge, huge for the town and even larger for them, they literally get 6 years of the life back that would have otherwise been wasted for admins and learning disabled kids - who don't really appreciate the huge time and income sacrifice being made by the smart kid.

Factor in that most kids see school as a prison or jail and you have really done society a service by reducing the time needed to spend there.

Anonymous said...

2:15 -- stop being PC. "Learning Disabled" and "Retarded" are not the same thing.

Albert Einstein was "Learning Disabled"....

Anonymous said...

I challenge anyone with math skills to take the budget for one Amherst classroom and attempt to design an system to educate those kids for a year that costs more.

The current budget for one classroom is large enough to pay for 2 teachers, 1 mortgage for a great house with grounds, dozens of guest teachers (like athletes and artists), a full time secretary, new books, a computer and pad for each kid, a new desk, chair, glasses, transportation etc.....each year. Yet schools actually can reuse some of this stuff. The second teacher can just be for the kids that take more time to learn, if they are not set back a grade they way they should be.

The real question is why kids don't get this? Or perhaps better put is why the taxpayers and parents don't get this? The level of waste is huge and you have to squint your eyes and make it all go blurry not to see it.

20 kids x $22,000 = $440,000 > the revenue of most local businesses. A skilled teacher could take $440,000 and educate 20 kids for a year. A real skilled teacher would see all those kids skipping a grade as a result of all the investment in them.

Dr. Ed said...

"20 kids x $22,000 = $440,000 > the revenue of most local businesses. A skilled teacher could take $440,000 and educate 20 kids for a year. A real skilled teacher would see all those kids skipping a grade as a result of all the investment in them."

The Short Lobster Company can do even better -- and soon will be....

Anonymous said...

Share the fantasy Ed.

Anonymous said...

Sure, Ed, sure.

Dr. Ed said...

The US Post Office serves as such a shining example ... yes, taxpayers will continue to pay more for less when they have a choice.

Dr. Ed said...

On second thought I'm not sure the Short Lobster Company could do a better job than the US Post Office. Sorry to waste everyone's time.

Dr. Ed (the real one) said...

Larry, I didn.t write the 9:47 post and you know that....

Although I can say this: The Short Lobster Co would NEVER hire most of the people "working" for the USPS.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 2.25 at 2:15 - Your use of language and thought process is quite antiquated and misinformed. Your use of smart and average in juxtaposition to special education and learning disabilities is pathetic at best, not to mention absent of any knowledge about what is a disability and who has them.

While there are many, many successful every day people with disabilities in our community that you are not even aware of, check out some that you may be familiar: http://www.vmi.edu/uploadedFiles/Academics/Academic_Support/Disabilities_Services/Famous%20People%20with%20Learning%20Disabilities%20-%20updated.pdf

What is a Learning Disability?
A learning disability is a neurological disorder. In simple terms, a learning disability results from a difference in the way a person's brain is "wired." Children with learning disabilities are as smart or smarter than their peers. But they may have difficulty reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, recalling and/or organizing information if left to figure things out by themselves or if taught in conventional ways.

Having a separate special education school for "these kids" is not consistent with the Massachusetts Special Education Regulations or the federal law IDEA - not legal, not moral or ethical and a straight violation of least restrictive. Please don't take us back to before 766. We have come too far for those who don't know to make public comment.

Dr. Ed said...

"But they may have difficulty reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, recalling and/or organizing information if left to figure things out by themselves or if taught in conventional ways."

There is growing evidence that the "traditional ways" are superior to this SPED BS.

"Please don't take us back to before 766."

Things were better then!

"We have come too far for those who don't know to make public comment."

Bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Hey Larry are you sending your kids to the chinese charter school?

Larry Kelley said...

No.