Councillors Conclude Budget Hearings


Quincy city councillors on Wednesday completed their review of Mayor Thomas Koch’s proposed $405.78 million budget for fiscal year 2024, approving the budgets for the city’s Health Department, Department of Public of Works and the city clerk’s office, among others. As part of the budget hearings, city officials announced the hiring of a new community liaison and that funding would be available for new events at the Ruth Gordon Amphitheater.

While they have concluded the departmental hearings, councillors still have to review proposed raises for department heads and other appointees and are slated to do so on June 12.

Koch had proposed increasing the budget for the Health Department from $1.4 million to $1.76 million.

The increase provides an additional $150,000 for rodent control, bringing that line item up to $450,000, as well as funding for a tobacco control officer. Health Commissioner Marli Caslli said his department has already hired the tobacco control officer using funds from a state grant.

“This employee has been in our department for the last few months with a grant from the state. They’ve been terrific in getting programs up and running,” Caslli said.

“We feel adding this to our budget is very important. We have 102 licensed tobacco establishments in the city. In some wards, we do get complaints of the establishments selling to minors or illegal products being sold – flavored tobacco products or vape products.”

Five separate general fund budgets fall under the purview of the Department of Public Works – engineering, public works, snow and ice removal, waste collection and disposal, and the drain department.

The engineering budget, with a proposed increase from $928,669 to $1.04 million, includes the elimination of an engineer in training position and the addition of a new junior civil engineer, bringing the total number of those positions to four.  Public Works Commissioner Al Grazioso said the city tried for over a year to fill the engineer in training post but was unable to do so and upgrading the position should make it easier to hire a qualified candidate.

Councillors made one change to the engineering budget, adding about $2,800 to the line item for education pay to correct an error at Grazioso’s request.

The public works budget has a proposed increase from $5.67 million to $5.73 million. Grazioso said the budget would consolidate some of the masonry positions within the department but would not add any new positions.

The snow and ice budget will decrease from $2.72 million this fiscal year to $2.24 million next year. Grazioso said the city has spent less than the budgeted amount on snow and ice removal in three of the last four fiscal year, finishing with a surplus of $500,000 or more each time. Under state law, communities can deficit spend on snow and ice removal if necessary.

The budget for waste collection and disposal is set to increase, from $8.42 milion this year to $9.39 million next year, as those costs continue to increase.

The budget for the drain department includes a proposed increase from $1.7 million to $1.76 million.

The budget for the city clerk’s office is likewise split between several different categories.

Koch had proposed increasing the budget for the clerk from $486,082 to $527,500, with the increase set aside for pay raises and other personnel line items.

The elections budget has a proposed increase from $973,819 to $1.17 million. City Clerk Nicole Crispo said the budget would pay for three separate elections, a preliminary city election in August, the final city election in November, and the presidential primary in March.

The budget for the licensing commission would increase from $78,636 to $85,026 while the budget for the city census would be level funded at $100,000.

Also approved on Thursday was the budget for the mayor’s office, which has a proposed increase from $931,053 to $1.06 million.

The budget includes proposed raises – which the council still must approve – for each employee in the mayor’s office, though there is no raise for the mayor himself. They include a raise of $30,000 to $153,000 for the mayor’s chief of staff, a raise of $34,000 to $139,000 for his director of operations, and $13,000 to $118,000 for his communications director.

The budget also includes a proposed raise of $12,000, to $87,000, for the community liaison position. That position had been vacant since its creation last year but on Thursday Chris Walker, Koch’s chief of staff, announced the mayor has hired Damion Outar to fill that position.

“We do believe pretty firmly that patience was a virtue in this case,” Walker said. “Damion was a real find. He is immigrant to this country, he’s been living her 20 years, he’s a social worker by trade and has a lot of experience.”

Outar most recently worked as an independent life coach, trainer and consultant. He was formerly a therapeutic coach for Fathers’ Uplift in Boston and previously worked for the state Department of Mental Health.

Also approved on Thursday was the celebrations budget, which will increase by $50,000 to $300,000. Walker said $10,000 of that increase will be used for events on Fridays this summer at the Ruth Gordon Amphitheater, and funding for additional events there may also be available.

The final budget approved on Thursday was the City Council’s budget, which has a proposed increase of about $40,000 to $63,700. The budget includes pay raises for several employees, like the auditor and clerk of committees, but not councillors themselves.

Quincy City Councillors OK Five New Positions


As they continued their review of Mayor Thomas Koch’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, Quincy city councillors on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to five new positions.

They also made a cut of $93,000 to correct an error in the proposed budget.

At their meeting on Tuesday, which lasted nearly four and a half hours, councillors reviewed and gave preliminary to a number of budgets, including the Quincy Police Department, Thomas Crane Public Library, the Traffic, Parking, Alarm and Lighting (TPAL) Department, and the Department of Natural Resources, all of which have new positions. Councillors will review proposed raises for those department heads and other appointees on June 12.

The proposed $40.29 million budget for the Police Department, up from $34.57 million in the current fiscal year, includes a new position for a mental health clinician at a salary of $97,600.

Police Chief Paul Keenan said the department currently has a clinician on staff, who is paid for through a grant from a private organization. The department is looking to add a second clinician and city officials anticipate receiving a grant from the Norfolk District Attorney’s that would cover the salary and benefits for the new hire.

Keenan said having a clinician working within the department has paid dividends.

“I’m pretty pleased with this model,” he said. “There are a bunch of different models that are floating around the country – mental health clinicians would respond first before officers, that would never work. This one does work. They respond with the officers. They are called to different scenes. They work directly with our community police officers on a day-to-day basis.”

The chief, who is retiring in late June, said he believes additional clinicians could be brought on in the future.

“I think it’s an area that could be expanded upon, because it is a valuable asset,” he said. “I see the difference that it makes.”

The proposed budget for the Thomas Crane Public Library would increase from $3.76 million to $4.27 million. The position includes two new archivist positions at a salary of $53,450 each.

Sara Slymon, who is finishing her first year as the director of the library, said she wants to make its archives and special collections more accessible.

“Quincy is such an essential part of our nation’s history and when I arrived we had deeply siloed our archives and special collections services basically with one person, and there was a turnover time of basically a year to get basic genealogy or local history questions answered, and that’s just unacceptable,” she said.

The library has special collections that include handwritten letters from a number of important figures, like John Quincy Adams and Frederick Law Olmstead, which have not been catalogued, Slymon said; the archivists would help catalogue and digitize those items. The archivists could also help with things like docent tours of the historic library buildings and take part in the Quincy 400 initiative.

The budget for the TPAL Department would increase from $3.23 million in the current fiscal year to $3.37 million in the new one.

Ed Grennon, the head of the department, said the budget eliminates a general foreman position, which has been vacant for more than two years, and increases the number of traffic maintenance workers from one to three. Each of the maintenance worker positions has a salary of about $47,600.

Hiring the new maintenance workers will allow the department to add a new maintence crew, Grennon said.

“There is one crew that takes care of all the signage, all the pavement markings, does all the block offs for the parades, for the entire city,” he said. “Adding the two [new workers] will allow us to have two crews, which will be beneficial I think.”

The Department of Natural Resources budget is split between three separate entities – cemetery, parks and recreation.

The recreation budget would increase from $979,000 to $1.27 million. The budget would provide funding for a new recreation operations supervisor position at a salary of $72,800 and would also boost the line item for recreation leaders and other hourly staff from $619,000 to $799,000.

Michelle Hanly, the city’s recreation director, said the new supervisor position would allow the department to expand its offerings.

“There is only three full-time staff in the recreation department. I’m asking for a fourth so I can continue expand and I can actually see my family sometimes,” she said.

Koch had proposed increasing the cemetery budget from $1.16 million to $1.29 million. At the request of Dave Murphy, the city’s commissioner of natural resources, councillors on Tuesday cut $93,000 from the department’s personnel services budget to correct an error in the proposed budget.

The park budget would decrease by about $7,000 to $4.35 million. Koch had proposed moving the employees who maintain the public spaces in Quincy Center – including the Hancock-Adams Common and the Generals Park – to a separate department within the budget. The salaries for those employees had previously been divided between the park budget and the budget for the Department of Public Buildings.

City councillors are scheduled to hold their final series of budget hearings Wednesday evening. They are slated to discuss the budget for the Health Department, Department of Public Works, the city clerk’s office, the mayor’s office and their own budget.

SJC Upholds Conviction In Quincy Murder


The state’s highest court on Thursday upheld a Quincy man’s first-degree murder conviction for the 2009 killing of his girlfriend, Mary Beaton.

The defendant, Joseph Beatty, was convicted in 2019 of one count of murder in the first degree on the theories of deliberate premeditation, extreme atrocity or cruelty, and felony murder in connection with the 2009 killing of Beaton in her Quincy apartment. Beatty was sentenced to life without parole in state prison, plus a concurrent sentence of 25 to 30 years on a charge of aggravated rape.

In his appeal before the Supreme Judicial Court, Beatty argued the trial judge, Thomas Connors, abused his discretion in finding Beatty competent to stand trial and that the jury instructions were prejudicial. He also asked the court to use its authority under state law to reduce the degree of guilt or order a new trial.

The court rejected those arguments in a unanimous decision.

“We recognize that the defendant presented substantial evidence that he lacked criminal responsibility at the time he killed the victim. However, the Commonwealth presented substantial evidence to the contrary,” Associate Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt wrote in the 28-page decision.

“The jury were entitled to reject the testimony and opinions of the defendant and his expert and instead to credit the contrary evidence, including the opinion of the Commonwealth’s expert.  In short, the jury were entitled to conclude that the defendant was criminally responsible.”

Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey applauded the high court ruling.

“We felt very strongly that Judge Connors did not abuse his discretion or commit error in his rulings and that Mr. Beatty’s conviction served justice,” Morrissey said in a statement.

The case was tried by Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Blair and Assistant District Attorney Pamela Alford, with Victim/Witness Advocate Maureen Russell serving at trial and Victim/Witness Advocate Kristen Collins working on appeal.

18 Quincy Residents Have Pulled Nomination Papers


Eighteen Quincy residents had taken out nomination papers to run for office in this year’s municipal election as of Wednesday, setting up potential races for a pair of seats on the City Council, for School Committee, and for mayor.

Incumbent Councillor at-large Nina Liang, a Grandview Avenue resident, pulled nomination papers Wednesday to run for reelection. She joins fellow incumbent Councillor at-large Noel DiBona of Chickatabot Road, who previously took out nomination papers to run for a new term.

The third incumbent, Councillor at-large Anne Mahoney, had yet to take out papers to seek reelection as of noon on Wednesday.

Five of the city’s six ward councillors have also taken out nomination papers to run for reelection. They are: Ward 1 Councillor David McCarthy of Whitney Road, Ward 2 Councillor Anthony Andronico of Nicholl Street, Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain of Forbes Hill Road, Ward 4 Councillor James Devine of Cross Street and Ward 6 Councillor William Harris of Ashworth Road.

Andronico is the only one of those five incumbents facing a potential challenger. Richard Ash of Mound Street has also taken out papers to run for the Ward 2 seat.

The remaining incumbent ward councillor, Charles Phelan Jr. of Ward 5, has announced he will not be running for reelection in the fall. Two residents have pulled papers to run for that open seat, Richard Iacobucci of Adams Street and Daniel Minton, a resident of Sims Road and retired Quincy police lieutenant.

City councillors are elected to two-year terms.

Six residents have pulled papers to run for School Committee.

They include all three incumbents whose seats will be contested this year – Paul Bregoli of Willow Avenue, Kathryn Hubley of Marion Street, and Frank Santoro of Lois Terrace – as well as challengers Kathryn Campbell of Cranch Street, Courtney Perdios of Ruggles Street and Liberty Schaaf of Howe Street. Perdios had been appointed to an open seat on the committee in 2021 and finished fourth in that year’s municipal election. Schaaf also ran in 2021, finishing in fifth place.

Perdios has returned nomination papers with the requisite 50 signatures. As of noon on Wednesday, she is the only candidate to have at least 50 signatures certified by election officials.

School Committee members serve staggered four-year terms, meaning three seats are on the ballot every two years.

A preliminary election would be required in the School Committee race if seven candidates qualify for the ballot. That preliminary election, and any others, would be held on Aug. 29 and the final election is slated for Nov. 7.

A potential race is also shaping up for mayor between incumbent Thomas Koch of Newbury Avenue and challenger James Maloney of East Squantum Street. Koch was first elected in 2007 and is the longest-serving chief executive in city history.

Nomination papers have been available since May 2. The deadline to return them to the Board of Registrars is 5 p.m. on July 11 and certified nomination papers, including a statement of candidacy, must be submitted to the city clerk by 5 p.m. on July 25. The deadline for objections to or withdrawals of nomination papers is 5 p.m. on July 27.

The signatures of 50 registered voters are required to run for each office in a municipal election. Residents seeking one of the six ward councillor seats must obtain the signatures from within their ward.

Koch Proposes $405.78 Million Budget For Fiscal Year 2024


Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch on Monday unveiled his $405.78 million general budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, an 8.8 percent increase over the current fiscal year’s spending plan.

The increase in the budget will allow the city to meet the terms of new collective bargaining agreements for workers, create four new positions, and provide raises to department heads and other non-union appointees.

“I do believe this budget reflects the values of the community,” the mayor said.

Koch presented the proposed $405.78 million budget for fiscal year 2024, which starts on July 1, during Monday night’s City Council meeting. The proposed budget represents an increase $33.14 million or 8.8 percent over the $372.64 million budget for the current fiscal year, fiscal year 2023.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget on Monday, May 22, at 6:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of the McIntyre Government Center (old City Hall). The council’s finance committee will begin reviewing the budget that evening and will hold additional hearings on May 30 and June 13. Councillors can cut money from the budget but cannot add to it.

Speaking during Monday’s meeting, Koch thanked all nine councillors for the work they do and for their collaboration on initiatives throughout the city.

“I appreciate the advice and the counsel I get from each of you,” he said. “Though we may not agree on everything, I think all our hearts are in the right place and we continue to move the city forward.”

The mayor said the budget’s “largest increase is dedicated to the new collective bargaining agreements for all our citywide employees” and that 61 percent of the budget increase is directly related to employee costs. Thirty-six percent of the increase is tied to debt service, “in large part due to the offset on the pension obligation bond,” he added.

The budget would create four new positions, one of which is a crisis response specialist within the Police Department. That job would come with a $97,600 salary, which Koch said could be offset with grant money.

“Chief Keenan has been excellent in his leadership of the department and recognizes some of the challenges with mental illness cases we have out there that sometimes the police officers are not quite equipped to handle,” Koch said. “Having in this in the budget is really a big help to those that need service on the street.”

Two new archivist positions would be created at the Thomas Crane Public Library at a salary of $53,450 each. Sara Slymon, the library’s director, asked for those positions, Koch said.

“As you know, we’re an old city, we have a lot of stuff, and that stuff needs to be taken care of. It needs to be catalogued, preserved, and she’s moving forward on that,” the mayor said.

The fourth new position is a recreation operations supervisor within the recreation division of the Department of Natural Resources at a salary of $72,800.

“As you know, we have pretty incredible playgrounds, open spaces, that are in great shape and we try to match that with great programing,” Koch said. “I think our recreation department does a phenomenal job.”

The budget would also provide funding to add a fourth ladder company within the Quincy Fire Department, a proposal that Koch and Fire Chief Joseph Jackson announced last week. During that announcement, Jackson said doing so would cost $85,000 annually because of promotions that would be required in the department.

Overall, Koch is proposing to increase the Fire Department’s budget from $28.73 million in the current fiscal year to $37.27 million next fiscal year. The Police Department’s budget would increase from $34.57 million in FY23 to $40.29 million in FY24.

The general fund appropriation toward the Quincy Public Schools would increase from $120.84 million this fiscal year to $127.54 million in the new fiscal year. The School Committee, not the City Council, will determine how those funds are allocated.

During his remarks on Monday, the mayor also noted that city expects to spend more on waste collection in the fiscal year than it did this year because of rising recycling costs; he is proposing to increase the collection and disposal budget from $8.42 million to $9.39 million.

Koch is proposing to reduce the budget set aside for snow and ice removal, from $2.72 million this fiscal year to $2.22 million in the new fiscal year, based on spending in recent years. State law allows communities to deficit spend on snow and ice removal if necessary.

The budget also includes what Koch termed “market adjustments” to the salaries for department heads and other non-union appointees. The city had contracted with a Minnesota-based company to conduct a compensation study, the findings of which were presented to the City Council last month. Some of the raises proposed in the budget are less than what had been suggested in the compensation study.

Neither the mayor nor the city councillors would see their pay increase under Koch’s budget proposal.

The proposed budget includes $59 million in total for debt service payments, 53 percent of which can be offset by sources outside the general fund, Koch said, including grants from the MSBA and FEMA, the city’s Community Preservation Committee, or the district-improvement-financing mechanism in place for Quincy Center.

Included within the proposed debt service budget is $16.47 million for payments on the city’s pension obligation bond, up from $15.68 million in the current budget. Councillors in June 2021 had authorized the mayor to borrow up to $475 million for unfunded pension liabilities, a move Koch said could save the city $130 million over the years.

In his presentation on Monday, Koch said the city is expected to receive an additional $10.1 million in local aid from the state in the new fiscal year, “a good chunk” of which will be Chapter 70 funding for education.

“I certainly want to thank Speaker Mariano, Sen. Keenan, Rep. Ayers and Rep. Chan and also Gov. Healey’s administration for doing a good job and seeing a good increase in our state aid this year,” Koch said.

The mayor also noted that the city’s portion of the meals tax – one of the many revenue sources that falls under the umbrella of local receipts – has rebounded and is projected to reach an all-time high in fiscal year 2024.

In terms of property taxes, Koch said the tax burden for residents would be middle of the road compared to other communities in the state, while the services the city provides are top-notch.

“Out of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, we are smack in the middle on tax burden, but I would argue that we are right on the top on services provided to residents of the city,” he said.

“We can talk about the services in our schools. We can talk about the sewer department in the middle of the night pumping out a sewer backup in a basement – many towns don’t provide that service. Excellent trash pickup…library service, veterans services, Council on Aging, I could go on and on.”

The city will have $49.1 million in excess tax levy next fiscal year, Koch said, while other communities have been asking residents to approve Proposition 2 ½ overrides.

“Hingham was the latest,” he said. “They were looking for a 2 ½ override just on an operational budget.”

Following the mayor’s presentation, Ward 1 Councillor David McCarthy said the proposed budget for the new fiscal year was solid and “full of positives.”

“When you go through this 2024 budget presentation, it’s full of positives, which I think the residents realize when they ride around the city and look at the parks, look at the buildings, the cemeteries,” McCarthy said.

In addition to the general fund budget, the mayor also presented the water and sewer enterprise budgets, which are funded by ratepayers and not taxpayers. Koch is proposing to increase the water department budget from $22.69 million in FY23 to $22.78 million in FY24, and the sewer budget from $27.8 million to $29.22 million.

Sea Street Fire Still Under Investigation


The cause of the Sea Street fire that damaged two homes on Saturday remains under investigation, Quincy’s fire chief said Wednesday.

“We’re still trying to come up with a determination, but we do know that it started on the back porch,” Fire Chief Joseph Jackson said, adding that “everything is still on the table.”

Firefighters were called to 308 Sea St. in the Adams Shore section of Quincy around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. The fire spread from the back porch of the single-family home to the interior of the house, three cars in the driveway, a garage, and a neighboring home.

Firefighters were able to knock the fire down within about 30 minutes.

“The guys did a great job,” Jackson said. “Everyone did their job and they did it well.”

No injuries were reported. Jackson said the home at 308 Sea St. suffered extensive smoke damage, but it has not been determined if it is a total loss.

13 Residents Pull Nomination Papers


Thirteen Quincy residents have taken out nomination papers to run office in this fall’s municipal election, setting up potential contests for Ward 2 seat on the City Council and for School Committee.

Incumbent Ward 2 Councillor Anthony Andronico, a Nichol Street resident, and incumbent Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain, a Forbes Hill Road resident, both took out papers on Friday.

Richard Ash of Mound Street previously pulled nomination papers to run for the Ward 2 seat.

Four other incumbent city councillors have taken out papers to seek reelection: Councillor at-large Noel DiBona of Chickatabot Road, Ward 1 Councillor David McCarthy of Whitney Road, Ward 4 Councillor James Devine of Cross Street, and Ward 6 Councillor William Harris of Ashworth Road.

In addition, Richard Iacobucci of Adams Street has taken out papers to run for the open Ward 5 seat on the City Council. The incumbent Ward 5 Councillor, Charles Phelan Jr., has announced he will not be seeking reelection.

City councillors serve two-year terms, meaning all nine seats will be on the ballot this year.

Five residents had pulled papers on Tuesday, the first day they were available, to run for School Committee. They include the three incumbents whose seats will be contested this year: Paul Bregoli of Willow Avenue, Kathryn Hubley of Marion Street, and Frank Santoro of Lois Terrace.

Also pulling papers to run for School Committee were Courtney Perdios of Ruggles Street and Liberty Schaaf of Howe Street. Perdios had been appointed to an open seat on the committee in 2021 and finished fourth in that year’s municipal election. Schaaf also ran in 2021, finishing in fifth place.

This year’s election could also include a mayoral race. Neither incumbent Mayor Thomas Koch nor any potential challenger had pulled papers as of late Friday. Koch, who is the longest serving mayor in Quincy history, is expected to announce next week whether he will or will not seek another four-year term.

The deadline to return nomination papers to the Board of Registrars is 5 p.m. on July 11 and certified nomination papers, including a statement of candidacy, must be submitted to the city clerk by 5 p.m. on July 25. The deadline for objections to or withdrawals of nomination papers is 5 p.m. on July 27.

The signatures of 50 registered voters are required to run for each office in a municipal election. Residents seeking one of the six ward councillor seats must obtain the signatures from within their ward.

Quincy Schools Won’t Close For Lunar New Year


The Quincy Public Schools will not close in observance of Lunar New Year next year despite a push by students and other community members to make it a new school holiday.

The School Committee on May 3 voted 6-1 to approve a calendar for the 2023-2024 academic year that did not include the new day off. Committee vice chairperson Frank Santoro voted against the calendar. Santoro had tried, unsuccessfully, to amend the calendar to include Lunar New Year as a holiday for which schools would close.

While schools will not close in observance of Lunar New Year, it is one of several major religious and cultural holidays identified on the calendar, meaning they are “recognized as important days in the lives of students and families.” Accordingly, QPS staff members, “will strive to avoid scheduling deadlines for long-term assignments, assessments, field trips, auditions, events and athletic competition on these days.”

The list of major religious and cultural holidays is a new addition to the calendar.

Included on the list during the 2023-2024 school year are Sept. 16 and 17 (Rosh Hashanah); Sept. 25 (Yom Kippur); Nov. 12 (Diwali); Dec. 7-15 (Hanukkah); Dec. 26-Jan. 1 (Kwanzaa); Jan. 6 (Three Kings Day); Feb. 10 (Lunar New Year); March 10 (the beginning of Ramadan); March 25 (Holi); April 9 and 10 (Eid al-Fitr); and April 22 (the beginning of Passover).

A group of students from North Quincy High School had led an effort in recent weeks to have the school system close in observance of Lunar New Year next year, speaking out during the open forum portion of the school board’s meeting on April 5 and launching an online petition signed by 1,200 people.

At the meeting on May 3, nine residents spoke in favor of closing schools for Lunar New Year. Several of the speakers noted that 39 percent of Quincy Public Schools students are of Asian descent.

“The ask is simple, please have our school holidays reflect, respect, the current population of our community,” said Kate Campbell of Cranch Street. “As our city demographics have shifted and changed over time and we have continued to benefit from the strengths of a more diverse community, our school holidays have largely stayed the same, honoring the beliefs and the traditions of some, and ignoring the beliefs and the traditions of many others.”

Four letters in support of making Lunar New Year a school holiday were also read into the record on May 3, including one from City Councillor Nina Liang. In her letter, Liang emphasized the importance of Lunar New Year to the Asian American Pacific Islander community.

“Growing up and still today, I appreciate this time of year as a time to reflect, celebrate and gather together with family and loved ones to welcome in the new year,” Liang said. “The traditions my family practices in celebration and honor of Lunar New Year have also instilled in me the values that connect us deeply to family, culture and life. They have shaped who I am in appreciating the value of togetherness, of respect and of gratitude.  This time of year is more than just a holiday, it is a defining, integral part of who we are.

“I speak for myself and the way my family celebrates this time of year and recognize that not unlike other holidays they are celebrated in similar and varying ways from family to family. At its core, however, the important thing is families have the time to focus on celebrating and observing said holiday.”

Following the public comments, the school board discussed the calendar for next year.

Committee member Douglas Gutro noted the calendar that was ultimately adopted included the list of major religious and cultural holidays and said he supported observing Lunar New Year the same as any other date on that list.

“Isn’t our DEI initiatives, and we established a DEI subcommittee in the Quincy School Committee, about ensuring all cultures and religions are treated similarly with respect and not singling out one without the demographics,” he said, referring to the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

“And if we choose to do it based on demographics, then we need to set up some kind of a system that says over 10 years, 20 years, we re-evaluate the recognition of it based on the demographics of the city…because the demographics change.”

Gutro said he was also concerned about making Lunar New Year a school holiday but not a citywide one, meaning city employees with children in the school system would have to find childcare if schools closed that day.

Committee member Kathryn Hubley said the list of holidays included as part of the calendar was an appropriate way to recognize Lunar New Year and other important dates.

“I think that what we’re doing with the bottom of the calendar is wonderful and I think it respects and it is equitable to all of our families in the schools, which is what we have to do,” she said. “We see and respect all the students of QPS.”

Committee member Tina Cahill called the issue a “moot point” because Lunar New Year falls on a Saturday in 2024.

“If this was a Monday or a Tuesday or a Wednesday, it might be something that we should be thinking about more considerably,” she added.

Committee member Emily Lebo said the school system should not be separating out one ethnic group from others and saying that “this one is more important than yours.”

“That’s what it would sound like to me if I was an Indian student or I was some other nationality and I said, ‘well, I guess being this is not quite as important in Quincy as being Asian is. Being a Latinx is not quite as important,’” Lebo said. “I worry about that aspect of it.”

Mayor Thomas Koch asked Supt. Kevin Mulvey if he had surveyed other school districts to see what they do for Lunar New Year. Mulvey said some communities do take the day off should Lunar New Year fall on a weekday.

“Those communities celebrate it on the day that Lunar New Year falls, so if it falls on a weekend it is not recognized as a holiday on their calendar,” Mulvey said. “If it does fall on a school day, in these few communities…the holiday is followed.”

Brookline, Hopkinton and Wayland are among the school districts to do so, said Laura Owens, the assistant to the superintendent.

Koch said he would be open to having schools closed for Lunar New Year should the holiday fall on a weekday but would not support doing so if it falls on a weekend, like it will in 2024.

“For that reason, what I would like to do is adopt the calendar as we have it, but let’s not wait ‘til next year,” to reconsider the matter, the mayor said, suggesting the district could send out some sort of survey about holidays to families.

“We have a year from my perspective to do a little more work on it,” Koch added.

Santoro, the committee’s vice chairperson, then apologized to the students and parents who had attended an April 26 subcommittee meeting, where the calendar was on the agenda but not discussed. He also apologized to the “hundreds of parents that will be calling in to excuse their children that day” and to the attendance staff who would have to take those calls.

“An apology is also given to students who have to make a choice between perfect attendance and missing work and celebrating on a most important holiday to their family,” Santoro said.

Santoro then made a motion to have a day off on Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, in observance of Lunar New Year, which is the following day. The motion failed, however, because none of his colleagues seconded it.

The committee then voted 6-1 to approve the calendar, with Santoro dissenting.

Under the 2023-24 calendar adopted by the school board, the first day of classes for students in grades 1-9 is Wednesday, Sept. 6, with grades 10-12 back in school the following day. Pre-K and kindergarten orientation will be held on Friday, Sept. 8, and the first day for those students is Monday, Sept. 11.

The last day for graduating high school seniors is Thursday, May 30, which is not subject to change because of snow days. North Quincy High School’s graduation will take place on Monday, June 10, and Quincy High School’s graduation is the following day.

The final day for other students would be Monday, June 17, assuming there are no snow days. In the event five days of school have to be made up, the final day for students would be Tuesday, June 25.

Schools will be closed on Oct. 9 for Columbus Day; Nov. 7 for Election Day, Nov. 10 in observance of Veterans Day, which falls on a Saturday this year; Nov. 23 and 24 for Thanksgiving; Jan. 15 for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day; March 29 for Good Friday; and June 19 for Juneteenth, if the school year extends that far.

Winter recess will begin following the end of school on Dec. 22 and classes will resume on Jan. 2. February recess commences at the end of the school on Feb. 16 and classes will resume on Feb. 26. April vacation starts following the end of school on April 12 with classes resuming on April 22.

The district will continue to have early release days on Wednesdays next year, as it has in recent years.

Quincy Councillors Want Ruth Gordon Amphitheater Renovated


City councillors on Monday unanimously approved a resolution opposing the demolition of the Ruth Gordon Amphitheater and urging the Department of Natural Resources to renovate the facility ahead of its 40th anniversary.

Ward 5 Councillor Charles Phelan Jr. and six of his colleagues – Anthony Andronico, James Devine, William Harris, Noel DiBona, Nina Liang and Anne Mahoney – introduced a resolution to that effect Monday night. All nine councillors voted to approve the resolution and refer it to the council’s oversight committee.

The amphitheater, located adjacent to Pageant Field in Merrymount Park, was dedicated in 1984 in honor of Gordon, a native of Quincy who had a successful career in Hollywood as an actress and screenwriter.

In March, a group of residents began to raise concerns about a proposal to demolish in the amphitheater, which had been discussed at a meeting of the city’s park board in November. Bid documents for ongoing work at Pageant Field also referenced the amphitheater before they were amended.

Phelan on Monday said Gordon is the most famous actor or actress to call Quincy home, having won an Academy Award, an Emmy, and a pair of Golden Globe awards.

“She was a great representative for the city of Quincy,” he said.

In recent weeks, a group of concerned citizens, including Sara Trainor Callard, the daughter of the late T. Owen Trainor, the architect behind the amphitheater, have come forward with plans to renovate the venue, Phelan noted. He said the city should work with that group to renovate the amphitheater.

“The purpose of this resolution is saying we’re opposed to any demolition of the amphitheater. We would also like them to look into these plans and put the Ruth Gordon Amphitheater where it belongs,” Phelan said.

“We have an event area out here (the Hancock-Adams Common), but it has to be set up for an event. The Ruth Gordon Amphitheater is already set up. The sound is perfect. Anyone who has ever played there says how great the acoustics are.”

“It’s basically a great part of the city,” Phelan added.

Mahoney said the amphitheater would have been demolished had it not been for the citizens group. Neither the mayor’s office nor the Department of Natural Resources had told councillors about the proposal, she said, even though the head of the department had appeared before the council in the fall to provide an update on a number of projects.

“There is a lot of stuff happening in the city of Quincy and I appreciate the work we do up here, but there is so much that is not being brought to us, so much that is being done behind closed doors, and so much that is in jeopardy that we don’t know about,” Mahoney said.

“I really appreciate the strong stance Councillor Phelan took on this and I appreciate the residents of the city of Quincy for recognizing the assets that we do have, because sometimes our leaders don’t recognize those assets.”

Chris Walker, Mayor Thomas Koch’s chief of staff, said the city does not plan to demolish the amphitheater – “based upon the reaction, it is done, it is dead, it is not happening,” Walker said – and would be willing to meet with the citizens group to discuss the venue’s future.

In addition, Walker said the proposal to demolish the amphitheater had not been discussed behind closed doors, because park board meetings are open to the public, and that the plan was not a done deal.

“No determination was ever made that we were ever going to go forward with it,” Walker said. “It was not a done deal.”

Walker’s comments were drowned out by several residents who accused him of being dishonest and demanded they be allowed to speak, prompting Council President Noel DiBona to briefly recess the meeting until the audience quieted down.

When the session resumed, Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain said the public would have a chance to speak during a future meeting.

“I appreciate the comments, I appreciate you being here, I appreciate you caring about this,” said Cain, who is the chairperson of the oversight committee. “This is an attempt that Councillor Phelan has made to bring this conversation more public. Once this is in a committee, we will have a hearing on it and we will discuss it.”

CVS Officials Meet With City Council


Representatives from CVS met with the City Council to discuss concerns about conditions at of the pharmacy giant’s stores in North Quincy and Quincy Point.

City councillors in March unanimously approved a resolution asking for an update on conditions at the CVS stores located at 321 Quincy Shore Dr. and 626 Southern Arty. Ward 6 Councillor William Harris had introduced that resolution, seeking an update on the North Quincy location, and Ward 1 Councillor David McCarthy requested a similar update on the store in Quincy Point.

Tom Driscoll, a district leader with CVS, and attorney Peter Lyons met with councillors Monday to address those concerns. The managers of the two stores were also present.

During the meeting, Harris said he is not trying to get the CVS locations shutdown but wanted to open up a line of communication between the company, city officials and residents. The store had made some progress since the resolution was approved, he said, “but we’re not even close.”

Harris showed before and after pictures of the CVS site, showing that the fence around the store’s dumpster had been repaired in recent weeks. Harris added, however, that the dumpster was not being kept locked.

Harris also read a letter he received from an official with the state Department of Public Health following an inspector’s visit to the site on April 19. The inspector said there was no longer signs of mice within the store’s pharmacy but a couple of other areas within the store had signs of mice, Harris stated. A supervisor from the store told the inspector a pest-control specialist was visiting the location three to four times a week, but the supervisor said there was no documentation for those visits.

“Obviously the eyes of Texas are one you and I’m sure you’re going to be visited again,” Harris said. “Moving forward, there has to be a better plan.”

Driscoll said he was named district leader in January and began to address concerns about the location on Quincy Shore Drive as soon as he heard of them. He had the regional and district managers from Orkin, a pest-control company, visit the store along with a local representative. There was no documentation of those visits because the local representative’s printer wasn’t working, Driscoll said, adding that he would provide that documentation to the city and state.

Harris also raised concerns about the condition of the fence that separates the store’s parking lot from neighboring homes. CVS is working with its landlord to get the fence replaced, Lyons said, and has also reached out to the landlord about changes that would improve the flow of traffic in the parking lot.

McCarthy said his chief concern about the CVS on Southern Artery is the dumpster in the rear of the store, and trash blowing around the property. Driscoll said he would recommend moving the dumpster to address McCarthy’s concern.