I was sitting on my porch last summer reading the newspaper; an article listed the 2012 Woburn graduates of the Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational School. I counted eleven.
Shortly thereafter I went to the Library and asked to see the 2012 City Budget. It is kept in a cabinet so you have to ask to see it, which I recommend every citizen do because it can be informative. The cost for the Vocational School to the Woburn taxpayers was $754,673.00 for the year—with just 11 Woburn graduates, that struck a chord with me.
By way of history, the Regional School District consists of 12 communities: Chelsea, Malden, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Revere, Saugus, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester, Winthrop, and Woburn. It was established by popular vote in 1964, to provide a vocational education collectively that no single city or town could afford on its own. All cities and towns were to be treated equally; cost and number of students would be equal. Fair enough.
Fast forward to 1993 and the Ed Reform Act. No longer would each community have the same allotment of students, nor would they pay the same dollar amount per student. Now this would be done by a complex, heady-shaking formula.
The school district superintendent told me this formula means 30 seats for Woburn—while other communities get many more. In addition, now students fees are not equal—this is now calculated by yet another state formula in which they take the mean average of a city’s or town's income and property. This means that some communities get to send a higher number of students that can take advantage of a vocational education and pay less—a lot less than other communities such as Woburn.
The Voke is a great school. I went to the opening in 1970 with a hero of mine, my father Thom Shaughnessy. Some years later, my father would be elected to the Voke school committee and became very involved there. He never missed a hockey game.
This City has a strong sense of community, of volunteerism, of pride, of caring for the environment and each other. Taxpayers are paying too much to the Voke. The City Council and Mayor questioned it during the budget process. I believe we have a problem.
Little has changed at the Vocational School or the School Committee in over a decade. Some remain certificate programs remain relevant, and some do not and should be changed. Many of Woburn's kids are opting to go to out of district to the Minuteman, for instance. This costs Woburn a fortune.
If elected, I will tirelessly with the administration and our state delegation to fix the unfair formulas. I will work to update the curriculum so that Woburn kids want to attend in their own school district by giving them the programs they need—resulting in cost savings to the taxpayers.
The Shaughnessys grew up in Hammond Square, as did my mother Rita and Uncle Pete O’Brien. The best mailman who ever walked this route for many, many years, was my Uncle Henry Shaughnessy.
I am a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I am also a former alderman of Ward 3 and a former Alderman at Large. I am a fiscal conservative with a record to back that up.
It’s a long ballot this year, a lot of offices and three important ballot questions. Woburn's Regional Vocational School Committee race, and my name, Catherine B. Shaughnessy, will be at the end of the ballot. I hope you will look for it, and I’d greatly appreciate your vote.
Catherine B. Shaughnessy
31 Scott Street