Marina Bay Ferry To Winthrop And Boston Returns May 30

The Marina Bay Ferry/Winthrop Valkyrie will return to service beginning Tuesday, May 30.

Mayor Thomas P. Koch said the City of Quincy will once again partner with the Town of Winthrop to provide ferry service from Quincy to Winthrop and Boston. Ferry service will include water transportation to and from Squantum Point Park/Marina Bay, the Town of Winthrop, Boston Seaport and the New England Aquarium on Winthrop’s 74 passenger “Valkyrie” Ferry.

“The ferry service offers early morning commuters as well as tourists another form of transportation between Quincy and Boston. The City of Quincy is happy to continue the long-standing partnership with the town of Winthrop to offer this service,” Koch said.

The newly designed website provides details on how to buy tickets, schedule times and dates as well as suggested destinations and tourist sights at each destination.

“By working with our neighboring communities, we open up a new resource for transportation that alleviates stress on other transit options,” said state Sen. John Keenan. “Permanent, extended ferry service is a great alternative to offer commuters and visitors to our area.  I’m thankful to local colleagues for collaborating on this important initiative.”

“The Marina Bay Ferry is a tremendous asset to the community,” said state Rep. Bruce Ayers. “I’m proud that we were able to secure funding in the FY23 state budget to once again help with its operations. Its an easy alternative to driving into the city – its fast, affordable and environmentally friendly. I encourage everyone to check out the new website.”

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.

Advocates Raise Concern That Lifting Universal Mask Mandate Leaves Most Vulnerable At Risk

As the Massachusetts COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ends on May 11, public health advocates are calling upon hospitals, doctors, and other health providers to adopt masking policies that will continue to provide access to safer environments for their patients and their staff who are immunocompromised or otherwise at higher risk for the severe consequences of COVID.

“The end of universal masking policies in health care settings will put those seeking medical care who are already more vulnerable – people with respiratory diseases or cancer, people with disabilities, and older adults – at risk of contracting COVID and other potentially life-threatening illnesses,” said Carlene Pavlos, executive director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA).

MPHA supports a more nuanced approach that centers equity and does not put the onus on the patient, an undue burden on those who may already feel disempowered in health care settings. One example that warrants consideration is the decision by UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester to keep masks in higher risk settings such as the emergency department and oncology. This  approach aligns with public health strategies deployed over the past few decades to reduce hospital-acquired infections that have shifted the practice of wearing gloves only in certain circumstances to one that is now considered a universal precaution.

Pavlos also underscored that predictions by public health advocates played out time and time again over the past three years as historically marginalized communities experienced the highest rates of COVID infections and death due to COVID.  According to the Commonwealth’s data collection, those who identified as Black, Asian, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Hispanic/Latine accounted for 76.84% of the cumulative case rates and 75.62% of the cumulative death rates since the onset of COVID-19 despite accounting for only 38.99% of the population in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (COVID-19 Response Reporting | These disparate health outcomes expose the deeply embedded systemic barriers caused by racial and social inequities that existed long before the pandemic and were exacerbated by it.

“The imperative to center equity in policy making and institutional approaches to public health became more universally understood and shared over the past three years. Going forward, everyone deserves consistency and predictability, regardless of race, geography, or income. To do otherwise is to dishonor the tens of thousands who have died from and been impacted by COVID in Massachusetts,” Pavlos said.

Disability rights leaders raise concerns about the current end of the mask mandate by pointing to lax infection controls in nursing homes during the pandemic that caused tens of thousands of deaths and discriminatory crisis standards of care that would have sent many people with disabilities to the back of the line for ventilators. Colin Killick, executive director of the Disability Policy Consortium, noted: “Universal masking has been a life saver for many people with disabilities, the pandemic has repeatedly shown how little value the healthcare system can place on the lives of people with disabilities. The fact that hospital mask mandates are being lifted this week, and some hospitals are telling patients they cannot even ask their providers to wear a mask, will once again needlessly endanger the lives of those who are at greater risk because of their disabilities. In response, our community will do what we’ve done since long before the start of the pandemic: fight for the principle that our lives are just as valuable as every other person’s.”

Elizabeth Sweet, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition, raised concerns for immigrant communities who were particularly hard-hit by COVID, “Many immigrants are employed as front-line workers in our hospitals, putting themselves and their families at risk of being exposed to COVID. Universal masking has literally saved lives. Lifting the mask mandate flies in the face of all the accolades and appreciations bestowed upon these ‘heroes among us.’ It’s a chilling reminder of how the contributions of immigrants in our workplaces, our health care settings, and our neighborhoods are routinely overlooked and ignored. Going “back to normal” is unacceptable.”

Public health advocates acknowledge that recent downward trends of both infections and deaths due to COVID suggest a new era in how to manage this virus on individual, institutional and societal levels. Oami Amarasingham, Deputy Director of MPHA, warned that “returning to the pre-pandemic status quo, however, ignores important lessons learned and potentially leaves the Commonwealth open to the ravages of the next large-scale public health crisis. Masking policies and legislation such as the Statewide Accelerated Public Health for Every Community (SAPHE 2.0) Act will help ensure the consistency of policies, resources, and tools needed across the Commonwealth to address both daily health needs and crisis situations impacting the health and lives of its residents.”

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.

MA Dept. Of Public Health Advises Consumers To Discard Mung Bean Sprouts From Chang Farm

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is advising consumers that Chang Farm in Whatley, MA is recalling mung bean sprouts because of the possible presence of Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced last week that Chang Farm has voluntarily recalled all 10-pound bulk bags, as well as 12-ounce retail bags with a sell-by date of May 7, 2023. Affected products are sold under the brands Chang Farm and Nature’s Wonder.

Based on preliminary State Public Health Laboratory results, DPH suspects mung bean sprouts with a sell-by date beyond May 7, 2023 may also be contaminated and advises that individuals not consume ANY mung bean sprouts from Chang Farm until further notice. Chang Farm is cooperating with state authorities and has agreed to suspend operations and distribution of this product pending further investigation of the source of this contamination.

 Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, people who are pregnant, and those with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headaches, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among people who are pregnant.

The products were distributed to retail stores and wholesalers throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.

If mung bean sprouts from Chang Farm were or are in your home:

  • Dispose of products in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can to prevent people and animals from eating the products.
  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards, and countertops; then sanitize these items with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water.
  • Dry these items with a clean cloth or clean paper towel.
  • Wipe up spills in the refrigerator immediately and clean the refrigerator regularly.
  • Always wash your hands with warm water and soap after cleaning and sanitizing.

Consumers should contact their health care provider with any illness concerns. Consumers with questions about the warning may contact Chang Farm at 413-522-0234 or 413-222-5519 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Koch Announces Re-Election Bid For 7th Term

Mayor Thomas P. Koch on Tuesday announced his candidacy for a 7th term as the city’s mayor with plans for a campaign kick-off event at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 24 in the Tirrell Room of the Quincy Lodge of Elks on Quarry Street.

Here is the text of the mayor’s re-election campaign press release (the release was not written by Sun staff):

Thomas Koch

“Serving as mayor is the honor of my life, and I’m still as passionate about the job and our beloved City today as when we launched our first campaign,” Koch said. “We have a great story to tell about Quincy – the progress we’ve made, the challenges we’ve confronted head-on and the future we’ve helped to shape for future generations. I am greatly looking forward to sharing that story with our neighbors across the City over the next several months.”

Under Mayor Koch’s leadership, the city has undergone a renaissance in a number of ways – from new schools and restored parks, to bolstered public safety departments to an unprecedented and efficient effort to restore Quincy’s aging infrastructure.

“Strong schools, safe streets and long-term investments in our public assets are absolutely vital to protecting our city’s future. We’re making great progress together as a community, but we have plenty of work to do,” he said.

The city has also faced down its share of challenges over the last several years, from a global pandemic, to devastating floods and harsh winters.  The response to those events, Koch said, has shown “just how truly strong, resilient and unique” Quincy is as a community.

“In many ways, we’ve emerged faster, stronger, and more whole than a lot of communities in the Commonwealth, and that’s a testament to every single person in this city,” he said. “People should have faith that their local government is prepared and willing to handle whatever challenge may arise, and I think we’ve built a level of trust and confidence over the years that speaks to that.”

For the first time in more than a generation, the city’s downtown is once again helping to drive Quincy’s local economy, with ongoing redevelopment producing millions of dollars in new revenue, thousands of jobs, and creating a neighborhood that is once again a vibrant community gathering place as well as an economic engine.   Koch said he hopes to continue building on the progress in the downtown, as well foster new growth in Wollaston Center, where a number of reutilization projects are in the works.

“Development in the right places is without question a good thing and absolutely necessary for our future. We’ll continue to pursue that growth – but always, as we have from the beginning, protecting our single-family neighborhoods,” Koch said.

Revenue from the city’s growth coupled with historically strong financial management have made the major investments in schools, roads, historic preservation, and a wide range of infrastructure possible without negative consequences to the city’s fiscal health.  Single-family home tax bills in Quincy remain below the state average – even though home valuations are now higher than the state average.  And unlike many neighboring communities, the city doesn’t need to raise taxes beyond limits of Proposition 2.5 to fund major projects or ongoing city operations.  In fact, the city is more than $40 million below the property tax limit as set by the state.

Koch said he’s been meeting regularly with the campaign volunteer team, and is planning coffee hours, door-knocking and other events around the City in the coming months.

“We’ve always been very fortunate to have such a tremendous organization, and it’s a lot of fun to get geared up and going again,” Koch said.

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.

World Labyrinth Day Celebration May 7 At United First Parish Church

United First Parish Church will hold a worship service entitled “Solvitur Ambulando” on Sunday, May 7th from 10:30-11:30 a.m. to explore and celebrate the labyrinth experience.

After the service and refreshments – weather permitting – members Claire Fitzmaurice and Beth Cook will mark out a temporary 7-circuit labyrinth on the lawn of the Thomas Crane

Public Library. Come watch the process and then take your own meditative walk.

World Labyrinth Day is an annual international event founded by the Labyrinth Society (TLS) in 2009. It is celebrated on the first Saturday of May around the globe by thousands of

people to encourage unity and world peace. Quincy has its own proud tradition of Cleaner, Greener Quincy on that same day.