The Winthrop Town Council convened in the Harvey Room of Town Hall on Sept. 21, where it heard an update on COVID and the public schools. The meeting was available for public participation in person and on Zoom.
In the two weeks leading up to the meeting, there were 95 positive COVID tests, higher than the previous two weeks. Of those who are testing positive, most are unvaccinated. Residents continue to get vaccinated. Those in the 12 to 15 age range will soon outpace the vaccination rate of 50 to 64 year olds. Only 73 percent in that age range have received one dose of the vaccine.
DPH Director Meredith Hurley said there has been confusion around booster shots and third doses. She encourages anyone with questions to contact her office or a trusted medical professional.
As of Sept. 21, there had been no in-school transmission of COVID. Between Sept. 1 and Sept. 10, there were 11 cases. Between Sept. 13 and Sept. 17, there were seven. When a student has come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID, they must be tested every day they attend school, or remain home for seven days.
The Winthrop School Committee met on Sept. 8 and Sept. 20, where it announced a renaissance program to provide additional academic support to middle and high school students. It also adopted an accelerated learning plan, which will take the place of remedial lessons.
A team will be coming to the high school on Oct. 4, 5, and 6 to evaluate its accreditation. A librarian has been hired to meet with the accreditation requirements.
Around 230 students are participating in fall athletics. Spectators are now allowed at games. The road behind the middle/high school will be named Frankie Fabiano Way, after the dedicated assistant coach.
The regional school district voted in favor of continuing to support the vocational school. The Town has 60 days to decide if it will continue paying the $435K per year for the next 30 years. School Committee Member Tom Ambrosino asked the council for a negative vote, which would allow the community to vote on the issue.
“The kids deserve [the vocational school], but can we afford it?” asked Town Manager Terence Delehanty.
A student was seriously injured at the vocational school over the weekend during a football game. Council Pres. Phil Boncore offered prayers for the student and their family.
Interim CFO Steve Cirillo gave a presentation to council on the town’s financial prospects. Cirillo developed a preliminary long-range capital plan, and a five-year revenue and expenditure forecast. These are meant to predict revenue capacity for future budgets.
Cirillo recommended six goals for the Town to improve its financial health: eliminate the structural deficit from FY22, build future budgets on sustainability review, strengthen certain areas of the operating budget, develop a strategy for dealing with unfunded liabilities, implement policy to improve fund balances, and strengthen the capital planning process.
A detailed overview of Cirillo’s presentation will be available in a future publication.
According to DPW Director Steve Calla, construction is nearing completion in the CBD, with drainage and conduit work, and eventually surface reconstruction. Parking is currently limited as two parking lots will be reconstructed simultaneously. Old curbs are being stored in the center, and the town requires $200K to install these curbs elsewhere in town.
Fire Chief Paul Flanagan will officially retire on Sept. 30. A barbeque will be held in his honor on the Town Hall green from 12-2pm, and all are invited to participate. Town Manager Delehanty will be naming Scott Wiley acting chief.
Residents can dispose of hazardous waste on Oct. 2. This includes batteries, propane tanks, oil-based paints, TVs and thermostats. Swings are currently being ordered for Ingleside Park