Education Dollars will be Used to Restore, then to Dream

There have been a lot of deferred dreams, and shelved plans, in the Chelsea Public Schools over the past five years while the district struggled continuously with funding.

Now, with millions promised to the schools from the state over the next seven years, Supt. Mary Bourque said the new administration will likely restore what was lost, and then focus on the dreams they had to defer.

“I do imagine the first year or two will be put-backs,” she said, “because a lot of what we did was cut support services for our very needy students because you don’t want to cut classroom teachers. It’s going to be multi-pronged in terms of strategic spending. At the same time, it’s the innovative things we want to do again.”

Plans in the Student Opportunity Act call for more than $1.5 billion to come to schools throughout the next seven years, and Chelsea is slated to reap many benefits from that plan. Over the past five years, as changes to the formula for funding were made, many cuts had to be made to social workers, special education services and librarians.

Bourque said she looks forward to seeing the district be able to fund “aspirational urban education” in the near future.

One thing Bourque said they always wanted to do was create an interpreter pathway at the high school for kids to get certified in language interpretation.

“Why not have our students graduating Chelsea High with a certification in interpretation?” she asked. “That can give them a great part-time job as they go to school. That’s an aspirational piece. We would be graduating students that wouldn’t have to take a minimum wage job to pay for college.”

Another deferred dream was to expand the Caminos dual-language program from elementary to middle school.

“We’re helping our students emphasize their second language and that’s an asset and a marketable asset,” she said.

She said they had always wanted to extend the early college program to the middle school, but in the form of early high school. That would allow some middle school students to begin taking high school courses so that they could be on a path to being able to take early college when they hit the high school ranks. That, she said, would make it more attainable to hit the goal of having Chelsea High students graduate with an Associate’s Degree from Bunker Hill Community College already in hand.

“There are so many things we’ve wanted to get fast-tracked on and this money will be the aspirational piece that allows those things to happen,” she said.

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