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Transition Team Reports

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Compiled by Denise Jordan and Nick Fyntrilakis

April 24, 2008



Transition Team Co-Chairs

Nicholas A. Fyntrilakis
Director of Community Responsibility
MassMutual Financial Group

Denise R. Jordan
Mayoral Chief of Staff



Public Safety
Chair: William M. Bennett, Hampden County District Attorney
Thomas Fitzgerald, Assoc. Prof. of Criminal Justice, AIC; Fmr. Springfield Chief of Police
Atty. Stephen M. Reilly, Jr.
Atty. Jill McCarthy Payne, Assoc. Prof. of Criminal Justice, AIC; Fmr. Springfield Fire Commissioner
Lorna Simmons, Assistant Chief Probation Officer, Hampden County
Darryl Moss, Mayoral Aide
Terry A. Aberdale, Ret. Asst. Deputy Superintendent, Hampden County Sheriff’s Dept.
Haskell Kennedy, Former Springfield Police Commissioner
Atty. Mary E. McNally, Former Springfield Police Commissioner
Atty. Reinaldo Gonzalez

Education
Chair: Teresa E. Regina, Former Interim/Assistant Superintendent
Springfield Public Schools
Philip J. Mantoni, Adj. Faculty, Bay Path College, Fmr. Principal, Springfield Public Schools
Sophie Jeffries, Retired, Early Childhood Centers of Greater Springfield
Elizabeth Cardona, Education Specialist, Springfield Public Schools
Kevin McCaskill, Principal, Putnam High School
Allen G. Zippin, Supervisor of Pupil Services, Springfield Public Schools
Richard Muise, Educator, Springfield Public Schools
Barbara Campanella, Vice President, Western New England College

Finance
Co-Chair: Stephen R. Valenti, Retired CFO, City of Springfield
Co-Chair: Joseph D. LoBello, Former President and CEO, Peoples Bank
Timothy P. Crimmins, Jr., President and CEO, Bank of Western Massachusetts
Maurice J. Grandfield, Jr., CPA, Corporate Compliance Officer, Holyoke Medical Center
Oscar Ramos, Ramos Accounting and Tax Services
Rudy M. D’Agostino, CPA, Partner, Meyers Brothers Kalicka, P.C.
Jesus Arce, President, Western Mass Mortgage, Mayoral Aide

Economic Development
Chair: Russell F. Denver, President
Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield
Carlos Gonzalez, President, Massachusetts Latino Chamber of Commerce
Paul “Skip” Lessard, President, Lessard Property Management
Francis J. Cataldo, Jr., President, C&W Realty.  Chairman, SBID
Arlene Putnam, General Manager, Eastfield Mall
Carol Baribeau, Regional Director of Public Affairs, Verizon
Dan Diama, President, Building Trades Council
Steve Bradley, Vice President of Government Relations, Baystate Health
Judith A. Matt, President, Spirit of Springfield
Joe Sibilia, CEO, Meadowbrook Lane Capital
Rick Brown, President, Pioneer Valley AFL-CIO
Paul Picknelly, President Monarch Enterprises
Aimee Griffin Munnings, Executive Director, New England Black Chamber of Commerce
Ed Whitley, Criminal Defense Investigator, Comm. for Public Council Services

Human Services
Chair: Joseph L. Roche, Managing Partner, Keystone Woods
Barbara L. Garde, VP of Marketing and Business Development, AM B Care Ambulance Service; Fmr. Springfield City Councilor
Atty. Thomas T. Walsh
Jasmine Rojas, Specialist, Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
Freda Malone, Supervisor, Massachusetts Department of Social Services
Dot Lortie, Realtor, Dot Lortie Realty
Gloria Torres, Consultant, MSPCC/Gandara



MESSAGE FROM THE MAYOR

I am pleased to present this summarized version of the reports submitted to me by members of my Transition Team. What follows is an overall Executive Summary that highlights the major points contained in individual reports drafted by each sub-committee.

The members of my Transition Team have completed an exhaustive process, which has included meetings with a broad cross-section of our community including city and state officials, business representatives, educators, young adults, senior citizens, residents with disabilities, community leaders, clergy and the list continues. Committee members poured over government documents and past practices in determining their recommendations to me. The inclusive nature of the process has reaped a report with far-reaching impact.

In reviewing the recommendations, I am once again made very aware of the essential need for interconnectedness at every level of government. One weak link compromises the entire chain. Public safety, as I have said many times, is the bedrock. But it, in itself, does not ensure the City’s long-term success. Instead, the City must cultivate an interwoven network of best practices extending from our public education system to blueprints for economic development; healthy communities and financial acuity.

Please allow this report to represent a measure of the City’s commitment to growth and development.  I would like to thank everyone who has participated in this very important process, which in my opinion epitomizes how good government should operate: from the outside in and not the inside out.  Your commitment, dedication and service to the City are greatly appreciated.



REPORT OF THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SUB-COMMITEE

BUSINESS FRIENDLY
A business ombudsman position in the Mayor’s Office should be created representing the interest of business. The ombudsman would interact with businesses and city departments to help navigate the processes and interactions between business owners and the City.

WORKFORCE
Larger businesses identified workforce as their most pressing need. The Committee recommends that the Mayor fully endorse and implement the Springfield Workforce Development Plan as developed by the Regional Employment Board. The plan establishes strategies to improve emerging, transitional and incumbent workforce supply to strengthen our businesses’ competitiveness; increase workforce skills and close the existing workforce skills gaps. Special attention should be paid to the establishment of a universal Pre-Kindergarten in the City of Springfield. Such a standard will set children on the right path toward education and skill development for long-term supply of workers for our businesses.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT
The City should continue to develop projects identified in the Urban Land Institute report until they have reached a completed status. Snapshots of these development projects include: 31 Elm Street, the former York Street Jail, the Federal Building and Union Station.
 
An underutilized private group is the Springfield Business Development Corporation (SBDC) whose mission is to redevelop difficult real estate projects for business use. SBDC should be given appropriate funding to  redevelop parcels in the City of Springfield that are important components of in the City’s economic in development . A renewed SBDC will be vitally important along the State Street Corridor, the South End, the Riverfront and the Downtown.

MARKETING
The Mayor should appoint a Working committee to identify potential funds for marketing; develop a strategic long-term marketing plan and identify appropriate venues for the marketing so the City’s assets can be vigorously promoted.



REPORT OF THE PUBLIC SAFETY SUB-COMMITEE

CIVILIAN BOARD
The Mayor should establish a Police Commission or Civilian Board that will have lawful authority and oversight of the Police Department. Public trust requires citizen participation in and review of police activity. The Civilian Complaint Review Board appointed by Mayor Ryan was a good faith effort to accomplish that goal, but this board is advisory without realized authority. The previous police commission had real authority and civilian review, but its policies and procedures were outdated. The new board must operate with revised and modernized rules and regulations.

ADVISORY BOARD
The Mayor should establish a Police Advisory Board comprised of members of the business community, neighborhood representatives and educators, all of whom hold a direct interest in public safety. This Advisory Board will provide valuable insight and community feedback while further promoting public trust.

EMERGENCY DISPATCH CENTER
The Mayor should conduct a feasibility study regarding a combined emergency dispatch center for police, fire and medical services.

POLICE DEPARTMENT EXPANSION
We recommend that the Mayor immediately expand the size of the Police Department by a minimum of 50 officers. A comprehensive examination of the size of the Fire Department labor force should also be initiated to determine if there is a need for expansion.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
An enhanced, collaborative approach to address the issue of domestic violence is necessary.



REPORT OF THE EDUCATION SUB-COMMITTEE

EXCELLENCE AND COLLABORATION
A district engaged in the education of all children must collaborate with city departments, agencies and organizations as well as on a state and federal level. With its hierarchical leadership model, the system lacks the level of coordination necessary to foster effective change in spite of much community involvement and the continued effort of many dedicated educators. A collaborative team approach without political influence or interference is needed. Reorganization of the system must reflect the changing delivery of instruction and the integration of academic and support programming.

New delivery models include a continuum from preschool to post high school careers and college. The hiring, development and retention of highly qualified teachers must be the primary goal of a learning organization. Change cannot be piecemeal.

EFFECTIVENESS
A comprehensive review of initiatives, programs and policies is needed to address and correct counter-productive results. Testing for accountability is essential, but duplicate testing and excessive testing should be eliminated. New school leadership positions have merit; however, implementation must be careful and deliberate so as not to produce classrooms led by an abundance of new or uncertified teachers. Scripted lesson plans aim to help new teachers, but their rigid enforcement for all teachers has led to teacher frustration. Similarly, the implementation of block schedules has impacted many courses. In some cases, programs have been decreased or eliminated also; the number of classes and students in those classes has increased. Recognizing that more time is needed, we must look at various extended day and year models rather than attempt to add more time in the same school day and year. Academic rigor cannot be confused with increased graduation requirements that dictate a sequence of study without consideration of career and college goals. All initiatives should be evaluated based on the actual impact.

DATA DRIVEN SOLUTIONS
Effective organizations are data driven. Accurate significant data is needed. The Achievement Gap data, attendance and truancy data and data on the qualifications of staff and numbers for individual schools need to be analyzed.

BUDGET AND STAFFING
An independent, comprehensive review of the Springfield Public Schools budget must end with an evaluation of the effectiveness of personnel and programs. Specific attention must be placed on key areas: top management and supervisory Central Office staff; the administrative staffing formula, teaching and support staff at the schools;
transportation with the Boundary Plan; school cleaning and maintenance; the food
programs; attendance and truancy programs. Communication is needed with the State regarding the funding formula for charter schools and the inter-district choice program. A review of the budgets also should consider funding to sustain model programs that began under state or federal grants.

DISCIPLINE AND SAFETY
The district has many policies and initiatives to address discipline and safety for students and staff. With the many changes in the schools due to student assignment changes and staff transfers or new teachers, educators need ongoing training to address students with emotional and behavioral issues. The attendance policy also needs review since it affects academic achievement, promotion and graduation rates. Summer programs to address academic deficiencies need to be examined for effectiveness and student success.









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