AllenN's blog

AB School Committee violates policy in union contract approval

The AB Regional School Committee (SC) violated a commitment to allow for meaningful public input prior to approving the new three-year teacher's agreement with the Acton Education Association (AEA).

AB School Committee approves new teacher's contract through FY2017

Acton Forum clarifies prior article on CY13 compensation increases.

The Acton-Boxborough Regional School Committee released the new Acton-Boxborough Education Association (ABEA) contract at its May 22, 2014 meeting and after about 30 minutes of discussion, approved it through fiscal year 2017. The agreement had been ratified by the teacher's union that afternoon.

AB Regional School's lack of transparency on full display

How ironic that the day I publish an article detailing the huge bonuses being given to our teachers (See http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/top-teachers-got-9-average-bonus-...), I get a notice that in two days, on Thursday, May 22, 2014, the School Committee will be making public the new teacher's contract between the Regional School Committee and the Acton Education Association (AEA) and then promptly voting to approve it.

Top teachers got 9% average bonus in 2013

Several saw 20% - 35% increases in total compensation over their scheduled salaries.

As part of my analysis of why Acton's property taxes are so high, I took a diversion to finish another project, which is an analysis of 2013 Acton and Acton-Boxborough teacher pay.

Acton Ranks #1 (but that's not good news)

By Charlie Kadlec and Allen Nitschelm

A further study on Acton's high property tax bills.

Acton Funny Pix

Got a funny picture to share? If we publish it on Acton Forum, you win a free Acton Forum T-Shirt! Email your funny photos to Allen@TheHomesteader.com.

Here is our first picture, taken by your favorite local blogger.

Possible captions:

"Truth in advertising?"

"What do they know that we don't?"

"What goes in must come out."

"When this sawhorse is in front of your house, watch out!"

TO SEE PIX #2 CLICK: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/acton-funny-pix-two

74 Acton workers paid $100,000 or more in 2013

Forty-five Acton school employees, made up of teachers and administrators, earned $100,000 or more in 2013, according to the list of gross wages paid in the 2013 calendar year provided by the school. The complete list is available here: http://actonforum.com/sites/default/files/2013_combined_school_gross_wag....

This was a 25% increase in the number of these highly-paid workers. In 2012, there were 36 school employees in this category.

Sixty school workers made between $90,000 and $100,000 in the 2013 calendar year.

Questions on retroactive stipends for top paid employee in 2013

Since the publication of the gross earnings of Acton's municipal employees for 2013 was posted last week, we have received several comments and questions about the top grossing employee, Mark Hald, the town's Information Technology Director. (The information on municipal employee earnings from 2012 and 2013 can be found at http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/municipal-employee-gross-wages-20...).

Municipal employee gross wages 2013 revised

Acton municipal employees earned a combined $15.1 million in wages and other compensation in 2013, according to the latest release of data from the town of Acton.

This represented a 3.5% overall increase from the prior year. All gross W-2 wages for all town employees for both 2012 and 2013 are listed on our links and docs page and can be found here:

http://actonforum.com/sites/default/files/2013_total_gross_earnings.xls

240 town employees earned $5,000 or more in 2013.

The seat belt problem

In the first article on Fiscal Conservatism, we described a program where the government gave away freshly printed $100 bills at area supermarkets and shopping malls (See "Free $100 bills" at http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/free-100-bills). This pretty much accurately describes what the government does now, other than the Santa suits, of course.

Acton Forum to launch debate on property taxes

Now that our Town Meeting is behind us, we are going to focus on everyone's favorite topic, Acton's property taxes.

I've prepared the attached chart to show the last 10 years and the next three projected years of our average single-family property tax bill. The chart is to the right (you may need to scroll over).

Acton Town Meeting tainted by special interests

In Acton, it has become conventional wisdom that the schools are supported by parents who move to town to give their kids a great education and thus are generally in favor of higher school spending.

These voters are somewhat balanced out by people who want to control rising property taxes. As our residents get older, some move away, others stay, but the "empty nesters" who remain are often concerned about our high property tax rate and want to see costs controlled.

Allen the racist

President Obama will go down as the worst U.S. President in history. He will hold that title for at least the next seven years, depending on how well Hillary performs in her first term. If it's better to have a terrible track record in important positions versus no track record and no experience, she may do better than Obama.

Parents bribed by schools to attend Town Meeting

The schools are bribing Acton parents with free babysitting so they can attend Monday and Tuesday night's Town Meeting.

This year's school assessment is expected to be a close vote because the Board of Selectmen, for the first time, have voted not to recommend the school assessment. (See http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/selectmen-vote-not-recommend-scho...).

Schools mislead on PR effort

The School Committee and some school Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) are in overdrive on a coordinated campaign to mislead the public about the school budget and Acton's assessment.

2013 Gross Wages for schools now posted

We have posted the wages for all school personnel for 2013 according to their calendar-year W-2 earnings on our Links & Docs page.

We have several previous year's information on the page as well. This year's data does not include titles, but you can often find them in previous years' data.

Calendar Year wages (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) are different from fiscal year wages (July 1 to June 30). Fiscal year wages can be scheduled salaries or gross wages. The Calendar Year wages should be consistent with information shown on an employee's W-2 form.

Lemmings invited to Town Meeting

Some Acton elementary school PTOs are asking parents to act like lemmings and attend the upcoming Town Meeting to support the schools. ("The more parents of school-aged children who attend, the more likely the school budget will pass.") If a lot of parents attend and don't bother to listen to the facts, they may vote overwhelmingly to approve the school assessment in spite of obvious problems that everyone seems to see but the School Committee and the PTO Chairs.

Free $100 Bills!

The government is giving away $100 bills!

ASSOCIATED PRESS (ACTON, MA) -- There is some exciting and wonderful news. The government is giving away free $100 bills at a town near you this weekend.

Political Philosophy of Fiscal Conservatism

INTRODUCTION

I have long been fascinated by political philosophy. How can intelligent people fundamentally disagree on so many core issues that we can roughly categorize as "Republican" versus "Democratic" ideals?

Easy to calculate Boxborough savings

A few days ago, I woke up at 3 am with school assessment thoughts running through my head. As you can imagine, I was instantly wide awake, all of my senses tingling with excitement. I jumped up and did some research and I think I've come up with a very simple way of calculating the approximate Boxborough savings due to expanded regionalization which many are confused over. I hope this helps people understand this complicated and confusing issue better.

Kadlec and Nitschelm respond to Bob Evans Beacon letter

By Charlie Kadlec and Allen Nitschelm

In this week’s Beacon (3/27/14), Bob Evans of Acton and Vince Amoroso of Boxborough respond to a letter by us published in the Beacon two weeks prior which urged voters to reject the Acton school assessment because of the unfairness of the assessment formula to Acton taxpayers.

Selectmen vote to 'not recommend' school assessment

FORMULA REMAINS UNFAIR TO ACTON

The Acton Board of Selectmen (BOS) voted 4-1 Monday night (3/24/14) to "not recommend" the Acton-Boxborough Regional School Assessment to Town Meeting for FY15. Chair Janet Adachi was the lone vote to support the assessment. The BOS's vote was advisory to Town Meeting which shall vote on the school assessment on April 7th or April 8th.

If you care, prepare

LIST AND SUMMARY OF RECENT ARTICLES BELOW.

Town Meeting is coming up in less than two weeks. It starts on Monday night, April 7, 2014 and looks like it will continue Tuesday night, April 8th.

For the past several years, I have participated in several presentations to Town Meeting in an effort to educate voters about issues, budgets, or proposals that are being presented. Each time, however, I have felt shortchanged.

A Tale of Two Towns

"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times."

Acton and Boxborough will soon be starring in "A Tale of Two Towns." If you live in Acton, you might want to read the synopsis of this movie, coming soon to a community very much like Acton.

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The two towns started out equal. They had similar folks living in them, their home prices were the same, their taxes were the same. Many considered them part of the same community.

Acton teachers in 1960s time warp

The Acton teachers union (AEA) is turning back time to the 1960s when teachers were underpaid and overworked.

Now they are overpaid and underworked. Yet the union demands more. Is anybody surprised that public union members are never satisfied?