THE TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE
Protecting Democracy in Local Government
Transparency is a fundamental component of a democratic government. It addresses the rights of citizens to know about the activities of their government. Too much secrecy in government often leads to abuse of power, ethical violations, lack of accountability, and loss of trust.
For governments to be true representatives of their electorate, they must continuously engage their electorate in the democratic process.
The relationship between what local citizens want and what local government officials decide.
Elected officials conduct themselves in a way that avoids even the appearance of impropriety.
Elected officials working with residents to improve their local community and the lives of its members.
Government officials act openly, with citizens' knowledge, of why officials are making their decisions.
Melrose Public Schools Seeing Red as school budget faces a $2.2+
Million Budget Deficit for
On September 27, 2022, Superintendent Julie Kukenberger provided a budget update to the Melrose School Committee. Kukenberger revealed a stunning budget deficit of more than $2.2M.
According to Kukenberger, she had been aware of the deficit since July 12, 2022. Kukenberger also stated that the budget is her responsibility and she takes full ownership of "the current fiscal reality."
Mayor Brodeur stated that the district will need to ensure transparency and an understanding of the impacts of this sudden shortfall saying, “The transparency and the candor is going to be what gives us the credibility that we're going to need." School committee vice chair Jen Razi-Thomas said, “It’s going to take us a while to figure out the solution. And it’s going to take a while to rebuild trust with our community, with ourselves and with the process." School committee member Ed O'Connell said, "The big question for me as a member of this School Committee is ‘How could we not have known this?"
If the Melrose School Committee wants to answer Ed O'Connell's question and hopes to earn back any public trust, it will require complete transparency in all matters surrounding the budget deficit including who knew what and when?
Melrose SEPAC and Commission on Disability calling for transparency and accountability for FY23 special education.
The Melrose Special Education Parents Advisory Council (SEPAC) is a district-wide volunteer organization, serving as a resource to parents of children with disabilities ages 3-22, serving all Melrose-supported schools. SEPAC works with the Melrose Public School District administration and educators to identify areas of need and act in an advisory role to the School Committee and the administration. Parent Advisory Councils are state-mandated advisory groups (Massachusetts Special Education Law & Regulations, 603 CMR 28.07, (4)).
The Melrose Commission on Disability is a 7-member volunteer board created under the authority of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 40 Section 8j for the full integration and participation of people with disabilities in the City of Melrose. The goal of the commission is to ensure that Melrose is fully inclusive of people with disabilities. Residents with disabilities should feel free to reach out to the commission at any time, regarding any issues that are impacting their ability to fully participate in activities, events, civic and community life in Melrose.
Both groups recently called for transparency from the City of Melrose to assist them in preparing for the needs of the students they serve.