Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We're Back, The Fire Fighters Are Gone But The Students...

Yes, the students are still being schooled within a building that has recently been deemed unhealthy for the firefighters. The schools library is attached to the firehouse and while separated to some degree, they do share the HVAC system and structure. A report from 2006 done by the state found issues within the building (Mass Department of Health Report) and little has been done to address these issues. A group of 3rd graders are in that building for approximately 3 hours each day for their reading and math lessons (but the lower school doesn't need a new building, an athletic facility is of much more importance!). How the building can be deemed unhealthy for adults yet adequate for young students is beyond comprehension.

Over the past week or so as the Malden City Council, the Board of Health, and Inspectional Services toured the fire house and found sufficient cause to close it. The article from the Boston Globe can be found here Malden Closes Rotting Maplewood Fire Station but begins "Citing uninhabitable conditions after years of mold, rot, and neglect, Malden Fire Chief Michael J. Murphy  announced today the Maplewood Fire Station was closing after years of discussion over the decaying structure’s future." The decision to close the station came as a result of the tour and the fact the lease expires at the end of May. While MVRCS was willing (and hoping) to extend the lease, the City and school have been in discussions over the upkeep of the building. In another classic Kinnon underhanded, ethically questionable manner, it seems that the officials at MVRCS had hoped to use the City's use of this building as a way of extracting field time from the City of Malden (from Fire Commanders Make Plea for Decrepit Maplewood Station):
"Are you staying or not? And if you are, what can we do to help each other out," Veilleux told the councilors and fire commanders. "We're looking for field space."

But that conversation seemed to be plan B for the charter school, which in a March 14 letter from Veilleux to Howard, attempted to acquire exclusive use of playing fields at three city parks.

The offer would have the city pay the school $800,000 to buy back the station, which the school said represents the value of the structure separate from the adjacent school  that was a part of the sale in 2003.

According to the Mystic Valley offer, the city would then enter into a 20-year agreement for the field time at three locations with the charter school, which MV officials valued at about $800,000.
In what would appear to most to be a clear conflict of interest, not only is Neil Kinnon involved in this as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for MVRCS, he also happens to be the City Councilor for the residents that now face increases in home owner insurance and the possibility of longer emergency response times. Neil Kinnon (who at the time was not a City Councilor but did act as Mayor Howard's campaign manager) was also involved in the negotiations back in 2003 between MVRCS and the City of Malden to not only purchase the building but in renting the building back to the city. In hearing the details of this lease agreement, one must question who Neil Kinnon's loyalties were with, with the City of Malden or MVRCS. Apparently the lease agreement allowed for below market rate rent (we have heard 3.00 per square foot) if not free rent for several years and forgiveness of a penalty for not vacating the building as agreed upon. It would seem that Neil Kinnon used his position as Chairman of the Board of Trustees to benefit the City of Malden.

As a charter school MVRCS is permitted to determine the per student expenditure (what it costs per student to run the school) which they then collect from each sending district and/or the government. While district schools are limited in their per student expenditures by their city or town budget, charter schools do not have such restrictions placed upon them. If MVRCS had been charging market rate rent and/or held the City of Malden to the lease agreement, it is very possible that their per student expenditure would have been less. It could therefore be argued that MVRCS padded their books in order to provide the City of Malden with the 'sweetheart deal' that they have been bragging about, at the expense of the sending districts. More about the terms of the deal and history can be found here Fire Commanders Make Plea for Decrepit Maplewood Station (be sure to read all of the comments for additional insight).

In true Kinnon fashion, Neil Kinnon has deemed himself to be of a higher authority and more knowledgeable than the other City Councilors, the Fire Chief, the Board of Health, and State Inspectional Services as he publicly disagrees with the decision (Malden Councilor Questions Conditions at Maplewood Fire Station). Of course this is after he has had his brother, Greg Kinnon, working around the clock to remove all of the schools belongings (see pictures Another Proud Kinnon Decision) and do some fixing up/repairs. Unfortunately, the effort was not put towards the mold, structural, or air issues that the building faces. And in what we find to be the most upsetting aspect of this fiasco is that at the very least, a group of 3rd grade students are still taught in that building for 3 hours a day without any regard to the air quality and/or their well-being.Yes, another proud Kinnon moment. So glad we have him running MVRCS!

No comments:

Post a Comment