Tag Archives: Doherty High School

Worcester news for you! … Dickens and (CDBG) demo!

First the fun stuff!

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pic: R.T.

From Doherty High School

Highland Street

December 7 and 8

Next week the Doherty Performing Arts Department will be presenting “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

The show will be performed by more than 70 Doherty students, 1 Forest Grove student and 3 Midland Street School students!

We will also be performing an elementary school matinee December 7 for students from Midland, Tatnuck and May Street schools.

The bulk of the show will be performed by the Theatre 2-3-4 classes, with help from the Madrigal Singers and the Jazz Band.

The show starts promptly at 6:45 p.m. and tickets are a mere $5.

Hope to see you there.

Jim Fay
Theatre Director

********

Now the muckety muck …CDBG DEMOLITION GOALS, the process …

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Cece says: Can’t we all just chase string and cuddle?? pic:R.T.

From the City of Worcester …

FYI

(Rose has made some sentences bold.):

TO THE WORCESTER CITY COUNCIL

FROM THE WORCESTER CITY MANAGER

Re: Council Questions Concerning the Recommended Finance Item for Demolition Purposes

In response to the City Council’s questions regarding the recommendation to transfer 126 190 00 from and to various CDBG accounts to provide sufficient funding for anticipated project costs for the demolition of six buildings, please accept this report.

List of [the CDBG-demo] Properties:

11 Dixfield Road —The Estate of Amelia and Lincoln Crozier

15 Uxbridge Street The Estate of Rose Jordan

147 Belmont Street S. Paquette, Trustee of Belmont 147 Realty Trust

20 Alvarado ROLLO The Estate of Rocco and Lame Mercadante

18 Charlton Street Edilson Souza

89 Austin Street Iglesia Cristiana de la Communidad

The city has a responsibility to maintain safe neighborhoods. The demolition of dilapidated, dangerous or decadent buildings falls under that role.

Demolition of such properties is an eligible expenditure of block grant funds because one of the national objectives of the ONES program is the elimination of spot slum and blighted properties.

The annual block grant allocation includes a sum set aside for demolition of eligible properties.

The City [of Worcester] places a lien in the amount of the demolition expenses on the property by recording a lien in the Registry of Deeds shortly after demolition.

The lien is then included with the annual tax bill, just as any outstanding water, sewer charges and betterment assessments are included in the tax bills).

The city tax lien takes priority over any mortgages on the property.

Therefore, the bank or person taking a mortgage on a property subject to a demolition order, not the city [of Worcester], takes the risk that there will be no surplus value after the city lien is paid.

(In the case of tax exempt property, the demolition lien is committed to the treasurer who treats the property as taxable for purposes of either collection or foreclosure to satisfy the lien).

The city [of Worcester] uses two avenues to assess fines to property owners who fail to maintain their property in compliance with building, health and safety codes:

The first is the ” clean and lien” process whereby the city causes repairs to be made and then records a lien on the property for the amount expended.

This process is used to address emergency situations (no heat, imminent structural failure, etc.), where the property is in foreclosure, or, where the responsible party fails to appear in court.

This process is also used to clean weeds and trash from properties creating a nuisance to the neighborhood.

Secondly, the city fines property owners for code violations through the code enforcement/housing court process. That process involves a sequence of code inspections and enforcement orders, a referral to the law department for housing court action, the imposition of a preliminary injunction commanding that repairs
be made, and, if necessary, a series of court actions where the court imposes
fines on the owner to secure compliance and, failing that, the court will hold the owner in contempt and commit them to jail until repairs are made.

While properties with debilitating code violations can be condemned to demolition, properties without any pre- existing code violations, but which have
suffered substantial, structural damage due to fires are eligible for demolition.

(In fact, four of the six properties listed above are being demolished because of structural fire damage).

It would be fair to say that, in all cases, the property involved is “made safe” per order of the [City of Worcester] Code Commissioner.

This is typically accomplished by boarding windows and keeping people at a safe distance with fencing.

The policy in this program is to make every effort to save properties from
demolition through private rehabilitation.

There is usually a period of several
years between the recording of a demolition order and the actual demolition of a property.

Cases with extreme deterioration or fire damage move to the top of the list and, to the extent that funding sources allow, are demolished more quickly.

Except to determine the owner for purposes of the issuance and service of
orders, the city [of Worcester] does not perform periodic title examinations of properties condemned to demolition.
As noted earlier, the city lien takes first priority over encumbrances recorded both before and after the recording of the demolition
order. The economic risk falls substantially with the private financier.

Respectfully submitted,

Edward M. Augustus, Jr.
City Manager

Public Hearing on proposed program for academically gifted WPS students

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Doherty High Shool on Highland Street is slated to be the home of Worcester’s school-within-a-school for the city’s academically gifted students.

By Edith Morgan

This past Thursday there was a public hearing on the proposed International Baccalaureate Program (IB) put forth by Worcester School Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone. After a detailed review of what is presently included in the proposal before the Worcester School Committee, the school committee meeting was opened for comments from the public, with a limit of three minutes per presentation, to be followed by any comments that our elected officials wanted to add.

The actual vote on this program will not take place until April, giving us all plenty of time to re-read the entire proposal, submit further questions and comments to the Worcester Public Schools administration, and gather data about the effects, successes and weaknesses of IB programs.

There seemed to be a mix of speakers, representing varied points of view: there were parents (fathers and mothers), teachers (most were also parents of children in our public schools) , administrators and a former Worcester School Committee member.

EAW (teachers’ union) head Zalauskas voiced several concerns: this program was not discussed with Doherty staff before being put forth; where would the money come from, when the schools have been “kept short” for years under former Worcester City Manager Mike O’Brien.

The teachers’ union head  suggested the city take a million dollars from the sidewalk account to pay for this program.

Mayor Joe Petty later responded with a list of new expenditures the Worcester City Council has funded for our schools, in answer to Mr. Zalauskas’ accusation that the City Council had short-changed the Worcester Public Schools.

Former School Committee member Donna Colorio spoke in opposition to the IB program, citiing major objections: 1. Compared to AP programs, this is much more expensive; 2. She  found no evidence that IB programs improve student achievement; 3. It promotes specific areas;4. It is too expensive, 5. She said many schools have dropped their IB programs due to such factors as lack of student involvement , and 6. Any dispute re. the program must be handled in Switzerland (Note: IB is an International Corporation headquartered in Switzerland)

WPS student parent Christopher Comeaux  said he fully supports the program, has a daughter in the Goddard Scholars Program who would profit from this added opportunity.

Debra Steigman applauded the effort but feels this is not the right time for such an expensive proposal ; she said “Doherty is falling apart” – is bursting at the seams already; she cited the lack of science labs for students, the shortage of textbooks – this, in “the city that reads”! She suggested we improve the rigor of AP courses, offer these opportunities to  our children, and revisit this proposal when there is plenty of money.

Tau Tran made a plea for a program that better prepares our students for  the globalized world they will be entering, and advocated for dual language education which could be integrated into the IB program – it need not be rigid, and need not be limited to 250 students. She urged that we revisit the curriculum and its implementation.

Monica  Campbell, who has two children at Doherty, voiced her children’s concern about the lack of space, and their worry that they would lose their present places . She still has many questions about how to make the IB program work for everyone. She does not believe it will raise the bar for all.

WPS teacher Kathryn Whalen, who teaches 2 AP courses at Doherty High School, worried about the undemocratic nature of this program, and asked why ALL school programs can’t be more rigorous . She also discussed the “disconnect” between administration and teachers and parents, and felt this agenda was driven by politics.

Angela Plante said her son worried about what happens to those NOT selected for IB.

Peter Bowler felt the idea was good – Worcester needs these academies to compete with the best private schools.

Worcester School Committee members then voiced their opinions. Space here does not permit my summarizing them all, but there will be much more discussion of all the above, before the April vote.

Stay tuned …

The proposed academy for gifted WPS students at Doherty High School: a closer look

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Worcester’s Doherty High School is located on Highland Street. (photo: Rosalie Tirella) There will be a public hearing on the proposed academy this month. Please attend and voice your ideas/opinions!

By Edith Morgan

For some weeks I had been hearing that the City of Worcester was considering establishing a “gifted and talented program” at the high school level.

I have always been interested in the education of that particular, usually neglected group (at least in Massachusetts public education) – we have long had many kinds of academic enrichment programs, academic advancement programs, (AP and others) and more and more opportunities for students to pursue their areas of interest, be they science, math, language, and the various performance and production arts.

So when our editor asked me to look into these plans, I was happy to get the information, and to try to understand what was being proposed.

On December 4, 2014, Worcester School Superintendent Dr. Melinda Boone presented a proposal to the Worcester School Committee, which was being developed as a result of Mayor Joseph Petty’s announced goal at his inauguration in 2012 to establish an exam school in Worcester. He appointed an Ad Hoc Committee which was charged with “studying the feasibility of establishing an exam school for students in Grades 9 through 12 which would develop and promote academic excellence relevant to success in the 21st century” as stated in the Ad Hoc committee’s report in February 2013.

By June of that year, the committee’s recommendations went to the superintendent who was charged with creating the proposal that went to the school committee in December 2014.
A great deal of research, discussion, visiting of other programs, and study of what was being done elsewhere, went into the final report and recommendations of the Ad Hoc committee. Its members were drawn from educators at all levels, parents, and community members – to solicit the widest possible views.
In the “background” section of the proposal, Dr. Boone summarizes present programs offered by the Worcester Public Schools, at various levels and trying to serve gifted and talented students at all levels.

In the Burncoat quadrant students with gifts, talents and interests have many opportunities, often recognized for their achievements, in music and the arts. Also, academically high achieving students are offered 23 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at no cost in the Worcester Public Schools, and there are opportunities to earn college credits while still in a Worcester public high school through dual enrollment in local colleges and universities.

The report emphasizes that this pilot program is not to replace any of the existing programs but is to offer an additional option, and promises to support and enhance existing programs.

According to Dr.Boone, “It should be clearly noted and understood that this ‘Pilot Innovation Academy’ is not designed to replace or supplant an of the existing programs serving gifted and high achieving students. Rather, the “Pilot Innovation Academy” will be an additional option within the Worcester Public Schools portfolio of school programs and options. The district will continue strong support and enhancement of those existing programs.”

The program is supposed to attract students from all over the city, “who have demonstrated exceptional interest in and ability to be successful in a rigorous high school program of studies leading to advanced college readiness.”

When I inquired why have it a Doherty High School, I was told it was the most centrally located of our high schools, a consideration since these students would have to be bused in from all over the city.

There would be room for 250 students in the school, grades 9-12, with no more than 62 students in any grade. The first class would be ninth graders. The curriculum to be followed would be that of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. focusing on English and literature; languages and culture; individuals and society; including history, geography, world religions, global politics, experimental sciences – i.e. chemistry, physics, biology, chemistry environmental science, and mathematics.

Anyone wanting details on the curriculum, its history, the nations and states using it can Google it (ibo.org, and for a definition, see Wikipedia) and do further research, as this program has been in existence for many years, in many places. Students could get a certificate, or if they take the final exam, a diploma.

The report includes a detailed, long list of application criteria, to be reviewed and scored by a panel made up of local higher education members. If, as often happens with new programs, there are too many students eligible, there will be a lottery.

The report includes a detailed budget, which includes costs of $236,000 for the year of planning, with two fulltime staff members, a fulltime clerical member, and $80,000 for staff development and miscellaneous expenses associated with starting up this program. In the succeeding years, costs will involve $1,050,500 for year 1`; $1,146,550 for year2; $1,877,412 for year 3, and $1, 969,049 in year 4, the year the first group “graduates.” Details are available from WPS administration.

Further costs for transportation can not be figured until we know where the selected students will be coming from.
The final section of the report contains a detailed timeline, starting with the December initial presentation to the school committee, then expects the school committee to schedule at least one public hearing on this idea, with oral and written comments to be received. From January through August 2015 the first year’s planning and training and hiring will take place, and in August 9 of that year and advisory council will be appointed.

In gathering the above material I spoke to a number of people who asked a number of questions, regarding location of the program, selection criteria to be used, the cost and source of the funds at a time when some of our classrooms have over 30 students because staff were laid off, and with many in only half-time kindergarten, and the advantage of IB over AP programs. There are also questions as to what effect this program would have on existing programs already working well in our schools. I would be very interested in the answers to these questions. This program is to be voted on yet, and there is much work to be done before the first class begins, if approved, in September 2016. Dr. Boone has already received comments and continues to hear from interested parties. Hopefully, there will be much input when the school committee, after voting approval, holds its first public hearing this month.

On a deeper philosophical level, I am concerned that this is a mere extension of existing programs, heavy on academics and testing, and not “innovative” but merely “new” to our schools. Massachusetts has always done well by the academically talented, as demonstrated by our #1 position in the various tests. But there is a great difference between the enrichment programs and the academically advanced programs, and the very rare, genuinely gifted programs, of which there appear to be very few in the public sphere in the U.S.

The criteria for identifying the creatively gifted, the innovators and the inventive, are quite different from those used to find those who will succeed in college. In my experience, the creative and innovative, who are so very important to our future, tend not to test well, tend to express boredom with routine and give unexpected answers to questions. They tend to take risks and pursue their own preoccupations, and are often the bane of teachers, as they give answers that are unexpected or of a higher order than those scored high by the test=makers. Study the life stories of the great inventors, the real innovators, the creators. They are characterized by unusual motivation in areas that fascinate them, they are not afraid of failing time and again in pursuit of an idea, and they are able to look at problems in different ways and see many solutions. They often score poorly on IQ or achievement tests, but seek solutions that may someday save us from disease, war, and other banes of civilization. They DO NOT usually appear in IB or AP programs. But they DO appear in the oddest places, regardless of family income, background, color, or culture.

If we were going to really innovate, these are the students we should find and nurture, as they are badly under-served. The IB program offers a great academic challenge above and beyond our AP programs, beginning at an earlier stage. Keep tuned …

InCity Letter to the Editor

I was very pleased to read, in [the] January 23 – February 5 edition [of InCity Times], the excellent article regarding “the proposed academy for gifted WPS students” by my friend and former School Committee colleague Edith Morgan.

Edith provides your readers an excellent summary of the considerations which the School Committee will address as it decides whether to establish such an academy, based on an International Baccalaureate curriculum, at Doherty Memorial High School.

I share Edith’s hope that “there will be much input when the school committee, after voting approval, holds its first public hearing” on the proposal, later this winter. In fact, this hearing should precede any decision as to approval of the academy.

As a Committee, we do need to hear from the Worcester community whether this program is an appropriate addition to the Doherty curriculum, and whether, in a time of significant budgetary challenge, it warrants the substantial financial investment which it will require.

The public needs to hear more about the curriculum itself, the population it will educate, and the cost to other services and programs of the Worcester Public Schools if funds must be reallocated to establish it.

In turn, our School Committee will benefit from the considered advice of the public as to the costs and benefits of the program – i.e., does it offer sufficient curriculum enrichment to participating students to justify the expenditure involved. I do hope your newspaper will publicize our first hearing on this topic when it is scheduled.

The same edition of your newspaper noted that our “Chandler Elementary [School] could use some playground equipment for the spring.” You are correct. This school serves an enthusiastic, energetic and lively student population which will thoroughly enjoy such equipment.

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Chandler Elementary School in the Piedmont neighborhood 

However, it lacks the resources which parents and neighboring businesses in more affluent neighborhoods can bring to bear to acquire and install such equipment.

I will place a proposal on our School Committee agenda for our February 5 meeting to assist the school to seek donations for enhancement of the Chandler Elementary playground. Again, anything your newspaper can do to encourage your readers, and the businesses in the Chandler area, to help us here will be a true service to many wonderful and deserving young people.

Thank you again for bringing attention to these important issues regarding the Worcester Public Schools, and all continued best wishes.

Brian O’Connell, Worcester
Worcester School Committee

Doherty High grad does America proud! Go, Kevin Hogan, go!

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BATH, Maine – Kevin M. Hogan, a 1988 Doherty Memorial High School graduate and Worcester native, is serving aboard one of the Navy’s newest and most advanced ship, the destroyer Zumwalt (DDG 1000), which is currently under construction at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.

Master Chief Petty Officer Kevin M. Hogan is the engineering department leading chief petty officer aboard the Zumwalt, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2016. Once the Zumwalt is commissioned, it will receive the familiar United States Ship (USS) designation and become USS Zumwalt.

Hogan said it is an exciting time to be in the Navy, helping to build a crew and a ship from scratch, something he never expected to be doing just a couple years ago. He also said he is proud of the work he is doing to help commission and man one of the Navy’s newest ships. As a seasoned sailor with numerous responsibilities, Hogan said he is learning about himself as a leader, sailor and a person. “I’ve grown up in the Navy,” said Hogan. “This ship is the perfect place for me to finish my career.”