School Department Should be Cutting High Paid Positions

There is an environment in the private sector that is compensating for all the business and revenues that were lost when the nation’s economy nearly collapsed in 2007. In fact, the nation’s economy has stabilized but millions remain unemployed, jobs aren’t being created and in general, it is high time that financially strapped municipalities like Lynn need to look closely at cutting some of the highest paid positions and handing off work to others who need to come up to the plate and to do more.

A recent School Committee vote on a new deputy superintendent hire – Susan Rowe – reveals that three members of the School Committee get it and four don’t.

Ms. Rowe will be paid $121,000 with a confidential secretary who will likely earn $50,000 and she, Ms. Rowe, will also receive a $350 a month car allowance.

Voting against her were: Donna Coppola, Rick Starbard and Maria Corrasco. All three should receive medals for understanding the plight of this city and how virtually nothing will change in the public schools in this city because of Ms. Rowe and whatever she is presumably going to do.

Voting for her, for an additional $190,000 in expenses during a time when the public schools are struggling to remain relevant, were: Mayor Judith Flanagan-Kennedy, Patricia Capano, John Ford, and Charles Gallo.

Their votes were not about profiles in courage.

They were about saying OK to a plush, easy, guaranteed new job with great benefits – and for what? What exactly will Ms. Rowe do to make the public schools a better place in this city?

Virtually nothing. That is the answer.

Superintendent of Schools Catherine Latham makes something like $180,000 a year when you add it all up. Now her second in command adds about $190,000 to that with her secretary and car allowance. That’s a nearly $400,000 total – and for what?

We are absolutely certain Ms. Latham could carry on quite nicely without Ms. Rowe coming on board.

Had Ms. Rowe’s position not been filled and her job duties split up with all the highest paid administrators, the city could have saved almost $200,000 which might reasonably be spent for additional teachers and added teaching resources in a school system that is not scoring many victories as the public schools are made up of only those students whose parents can’t afford for their educations elsewhere.

It is, we believe, a sad commentary on the times when $200,000 to achieve absolutely nothing but giving out two easy jobs and a car allowance satisfies the mayor and three of her colleagues on the School Committee.

We again thank Ms. Coppola, Ms. Carrasco and Mr. Starbard for refusing to vote for these new positions and allowances at a time when the system is crying out for more money in order to save teachers’ jobs. What’s good for the private sector should be good for the public sector – but apparently not in Lynn where the gravy train continues at the expense of our children.

6 comments for “School Department Should be Cutting High Paid Positions

  1. Marysa Yvonne Angelli
    January 27, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    “as the public schools are made up of only those students whose parents can’t afford for their educations elsewhere”
    Absurdly false statements like these are what make me disgusted with the Journal, and I know I am not alone.

  2. Jennifer Mageary
    January 28, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Both of my parents work full-time for the City of Lynn, and make a decent amount of money to support our family – certainly enough to send me to any high school I wanted to go to. I transferred from a private high school to Lynn English High School because it offerred a higher standard of academics and greater opportunities for involvement. The idea that “the public schools are made up of only those students whose parents can’t afford for their educations elsewhere” is extremely ignorant, uninformed, and ludicrous. 

  3. Sarah Jenness
    January 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I am upset at the same statement as the previous two commenters.  The statement is both untrue and offensive.  It implies that students from low income families are somehow less than students from wealthier families.  I attended Lynn Public schools from k-12 and now attend Bryn Mawr College, which was recently referred to as a “Ph. D feeder school” (  Several of my friends from Lynn Public Schools are also attending prestigious colleges. Lynn schools do produce many victories, but many people are blinded by the stereotype that all Lynn students are unmotivated, violent, unintelligent, etc.  This article perpetuates that stereotype with the statements like, ”
    in a school system that is not scoring many victories as the public schools are made up of only those students whose parents can’t afford for their educations elsewhere.”  I understand this statement was not the main purpose of the article, but also ask that people, journalists especially, realize the power of their words.

  4. Joshua Resnek
    January 31, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    I have two older sons who both graduated from Chelsea High School. My oldest son is a graduate of UMass with a BA in history. My younger son is a Harvard graduate (last June). Both were captains of their baseball teams, classes, et cetera. I own the Chelsea Record. Even though I grew up in Marblehead, I think I understand something about urban school systems and changing post industrial cities. I trusted the Chelsea School system for my sons because I knew the place so well – and a visit there by someone such as yourself would reveal to you that not all impoverished communities have to treat their public schools like a prison system. I have two younger daughters. They both attend Cohen Hillel Academy in Marblehead. I live on Ocean Street. My youngest daughter, who is African American, attended the Brickett School when she first came to us. God, was the Brickett School dreary.  Class size 29. It was a depressing scene. I liked the principal, who now heads the Harrington. She was classy, but beset by ineffectual leadership at the highest levels and a school system run like a prison system. So I took Naudia out of the Lynn Schools and put her with my daughter Kate at the private school – where Kate has been since she began kindergarten. Class size at Cohen Hillel is about 10-12 with two instructors. Obviously, I wasn’t about to send my biological daughter to the Brickett School. My effort here isn’t to bring down the public schools. The leadership here and the dramatically changed student body over which the leadership has nothing whatsoever to do has changed the face and the persona of the Lynn public schools. I know there are victories in the public schools and that the public schools are basically only as good as their student bodies. But when a school system has an enormous part of its population unable to read or write in English and from households where one parent of the other is missing, things get difficult for those who really want to achieve. That you are at Bryn Mawr is a testament to the fact that the Lynn Public Schools despite themselves produce brilliant overachievers destined for great success. You, my friend, would have succeeded anywhere. What I meant to say is that given the choice over the dreariness of the Lynn public schools, a place with smaller classrooms, in schools absent of violence is a preference of mine if I have that option – and I do – and I am grateful for it. Someday when you have children, you will feel the same way


  5. Marysa Yvonne Angelli
    February 1, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I don’t think you understand as much as you like to think you do about urban school systems. You attempt to argue that Lynn schools are “dreary” and “like a prison system” but you do nothing to qualify these statements. Having attended Lynn English for my final three years of high school, I don’t think that any of the safety policies taken at English are uncommon in today’s post-Columbine world. I am, however, not entirely sure what you are alluding to when you equate the schools to prisons so it’s hard to respond to that portion of your argument. 
    I attended private school from preschool until I transferred to English as a sophomore. I had a number of classes with over 29 students at both private schools I went to, as well as smaller classes. I had a number of classes with around 20 students as well as larger classes when I was at English. I was in advanced placement and honors classes at both places, and after transferring to English I experienced classes the same size or smaller than my private school honors classes. 
    It is clear that you do not have a high opinion of the schools, so I find your judgment that, “the public schools are basically only as good as their student bodies,” particularly offensive and ignorant. I know many students that have graduated from the Lynn School system and gone on to top colleges, but you seem to want to disregard the many successes of the Lynn Schools in favor of focusing on its failures. 
    Saying that there is an “enormous” portion of students who can’t read and write in English is an exaggeration. While there are ESL students, they are not the norm nor the majority. They are the minority. You will find ESL students in any urban school system in the state, as well as white students who have grown up in this country, speaking English, who can’t read. In terms of your assertion that single parent households are a hinderance to those who want to achieve, I was raised by a single parent who did a pretty damn good job if you measure her work by academic success; I am in the honors program at a college that was recently named one of the top ten schools for my major in the country. You said to Sarah that because of these factors, “things get difficult for those who really want to achieve,” but I think that Sarah and myself, as well as many, many other students, simply prove that this is untrue. (I find it ironic that shortly after saying how hard it is for students who want to achieve, you admit that the schools do in fact “produce brilliant overachievers destined for great success.”) I transferred to English because there was a greater number of academic and extracurricular opportunities there, and there is no doubt in my mind that if I had remained where I was in private school then I would not be where I am today.
    In terms of the violence that you say exists, I witnessed only one fight during all of my school years, and it was at private school. 
    I understand that YOU are choosing to send YOUR children to private school, and I can respect that as your decision; you have every right to make it. However, professing as fact that every other parent in Lynn with the means to take their child out of the public school system is also doing so is an offensive, boldfaced lie. 

  6. C Hereford (Wellesley '09)
    February 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    First and foremost, you state that you are not trying to “bring  down the public schools” but in saying that only people who cannot afford to send their children elsewhere attend LPS, you are doing just that.

    More importantly, there are currently over 13,000 students in the Lynn public school system; how many interviews with Lynn parents were conducted in order for you to assert that a majority of parents want their kids out the public schools here? What is the exact percentage of parents who would send their child(ren) elsewhere if given the chance? I think that it would behoove you to actually speak to people sending their children to school in Lynn in order to provide clear evidence to support your claims. While it is your opinion that LPS is of poor quality (though your wording does not indicate that this is an opinion), to say that you know what all (or most or a majority) of parents would do in a given situation without any sort of qualitative or quantitative data is poor reporting to say the least. Also, you may help you to understand that there is more nuance to the sentiments surrounding LPS (i.e. some things are working, others are not) than the black and white mentality that you seem to have. There are some parents who love LPS just as there are probably some who hate the Chelsea public schools. There are also many schools in Lynn (Ford for example) doing wonderful things for their students and their communities as a whole. While LPS could certainly improve, attending school here is not a death (or prison) sentence.

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