Tag Archives: Massachusetts

School Bus Company to Implement Anti-Idling Program and Pay Penalties under the Clean Air Act

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Press Release, April 10, 2012

As part of a settlement for alleged excessive diesel idling in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Durham School Services will commit to reduce idling from its school bus fleet of 13,900 buses operating in 30 states. The anti-idling project is the result of an EPA New England enforcement action to address excessive school bus idling and reduce school children’s exposure to diesel pollution.

Wellesley School Committee votes to drop food service vendor Chartwells

Source: Evan Allen, Boston Globe, April 10, 2012

….At a meeting in March…the Chartwells Subcommittee, recommended that the district enter into negotiations with Chartwells for another contract, citing the vendor’s willingness to work hard to overcome past problems, which included health code violations….At the March meeting, seven Hardy Elementary School students addressed the School Committee, saying the lunches they were served were unappetizing, and that they and many of their classmates were skipping meals to avoid eating the food. They complained of feeling sick, though the Wellesley Health Department has said that they’ve received no reports of children becoming ill after eating….

…Tuesday night’s vote requires the School Committee to immediately send out a request for proposals for a new food service vendor. …[T]he district will not be returning to in-house food service…

Westborough selectmen vote to keep town-employed custodians

Source: Kelleigh Welch, MetroWest Daily News, February 29, 2012

Custodial services in the library, senior center and Forbes Municipal Building will not change after selectmen last night voted to keep the current town employee jobs instead of hiring a private cleaning company.

While the initial proposal to contract out custodial services would save the town $157,000 in the first year, according to Town Manager Jim Malloy, all five members of the board last night said it would be better to keep the town employees.

Investors may fund social programs / State exploring ‘pay for success’; Profits would be tied to cost savings

Source: Todd Wallack, Boson Globe, June 27, 2011

Massachusetts could be among the first states in the country to raise money for social services by offering investors the chance to earn profits on programs they establish. The approach is known as “social impact bonds” or “pay for success.” It is based on the idea that if programs backed by investors succeed in reducing, for example, the number of inmates in prison or the homeless population, governments will realize big savings, which they can tap to pay off investors with healthy returns. If the programs fail, the government would owe little or nothing.

Districts Hire Outsider to Trim Special Ed. Costs

Source: Nirvi Shah, Education Week, May 24, 2011

Futures Education may be hired simply to evaluate how a district’s special education students are served, or it may go as far as providing therapists or aides and revamping how those services are delivered based on the company’s evaluation….In some districts, the 13-year-old company has been greeted with an angry legion of parents and school employees protesting its arrival, or it has had to sue districts that wouldn’t pay for the analyses it was hired to produce….

…The company says it has saved the 5,800-student Holyoke, Mass., district $1.6 million in three years. Savings of about $600,000 were reported by the 3,800-student Anson County, N.C., district. In Wayne County, Mich., district officials said savings have totaled more than $5 million in two years of contracting with Futures….Mr. Bittel bases his conclusion on the company’s experiences with more than 100 school districts serving 30,000 individuals with disabilities in two dozen states. Some are small-city districts, such as Everett, but the company also has contracts to work with some students in the 60,000-student District of Columbia schools and 7,000 students in 17 districts in Michigan’s Wayne County.

Futures Education can analyze the way special education services are delivered in a district and provide some of those services, including therapists and paraprofessionals. The company usually offers to interview current district employees who hold those jobs, but the retirement and health benefits they’d receive from Futures are likely to be less generous, Mr. Bittel said.

The company stops short of taking over a district’s entire special education program, because it doesn’t employ teachers. Futures, which is privately held, declined to provide information about its profits….

Springfield School Committee considers return to in-house custodian crew

Source: Peter Goonan, The Republican, May 11, 2011

SPRINGFIELD – The School Committee will consider going back to a full, in-house custodian crew to clean the schools, which would end the use of a private firm hired five years ago by the state-imposed Finance Control Board….Timothy J. Plante, the School Department’s chief financial officer, said the use of an in-house crew, when considering all factors including health insurance and other fringe costs, would still save an estimated $268,340 a year.

Currently, the city has a hybrid system – using S.J. Services, doing business as EduClean, for after-school custodial services, and a smaller crew of city custodians during the day. The current, five-year contract with EduClean expires June 30, but might be extended three months to help with the transition, officials said….Under the proposed plan, the city would employ 200 full-time custodians, 24 part-time custodians and three supervisors, covering daytime and nighttime shifts. The annual cost, including the fringe costs was listed as estimated at $11,954,744.

Rebuilding Downtown From the Ground Up

Source: Susan Diesenhouse, New York Times, April 5, 2011

QUINCY, Mass. — Barring a catastrophe, few cities get the chance to totally rebuild their downtowns, from the sewer lines deep underground to the sidewalks, buildings, parks and lighting above. But an unusual public-private partnership is allowing this city of 91,000, first settled in the early 17th century and famed as the hometown of the Adams presidents, to try to do just that.

The city has approved plans to raze most of its 50-acre center and replace it with $289 million in new infrastructure and $1.3 billion of new private housing, retail, offices, entertainment, hotels and parking. The private builder, Street-Works Development of White Plains, will pay for the public improvements upfront.

Once Street-Works installs the utilities, roadways, parking and landscaping; builds a number of new buildings and leases 50 to 75 percent of the space, the city will assume responsibility for the infrastructure bill by selling general obligations bonds. Some income from the property will flow to the city to cover interest on the debt, amortize the principal and generate extra money for city coffers.

Quality, Cost, and Purpose: Comparisons of Government and Private Sector Payments for Similar Services

Source: Kristina Richardi, Luc Schuster, and Nancy Wagman, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, January 23, 2011

This paper looks at what our state government pays for child care (which Massachusetts calls ”early education and care” in recognition of the importance of quality early care in the educational development of children), health care, and education, and compares those costs to what is paid for those services in the private sector. We find that in providing child care for lower-income working parents, the state purchases care from providers who also provide care to private clients. The rates that the state pays these providers range from 66 percent to 96 percent of the median market rate in each region. Our state Medicaid program buys health care in the same market as private payers, but pays only 80 percent of the rates paid by private payers. Finally, this paper finds that the average cost of public schools, $13,142 per student, is dramatically below the cost of private schools, which average $32,084 per student – and generally educate children from less challenging backgrounds.

Call for public defender overhaul / Patrick seeks to end costly use of private lawyers for the indigent

Source: Andrea Estes, Boston Globe, January 24, 2011

Governor Deval Patrick wants to eliminate the use of private attorneys to represent indigent defendants, an entrenched $200 million system that has been attacked as unfair by prosecutors across the state.

The sweeping measure, which will be contained in the governor’s fiscal year 2012 budget, would end the state’s practice of farming out roughly 90 percent of the work defending poor clients in criminal cases. The state instead would hire about 1,000 full-time staff attorneys to replace the 3,000 private lawyers the state draws on to represent poor people.

Administration officials say the change could slash at least $45 million from the $207 million budget for the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the state’s public defender agency.