Consolidation is the word – Can the School Department merge with town offices?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
By Transcript Staff

Just two meetings into his tenure as Council President, Jeffrey Turco has offered a bold plan for the future of the Town of Winthrop. Turco proposed at Tuesday’s Council meeting that the administrative functions of the School Department and town government be consolidated.

The Town Council gave its approval to the idea of merging the two entities and now the ball is in the hands of the School Committee, which is expected to discuss the matter at tonight’s meeting.

Turco said that only one other town (Barnstable) in Massachusetts has instituted the consolidation move that he is proposing in Winthrop and that according to reports, Barnstable has saved more than $100,000 in its first year.

It definitely is an idea that merits discussion and Turco doesn’t want to waste any time: He also has proposed that the town manager (James McKenna) and superintendent of schools (Dr. Steve Jenkins) present a written proposal to the Council by March 31.

The other half of this breaking story is that McKenna is looking to move the Winthrop schools’ administrative offices from the E.B. Newton School to Town Hall. That would result in additional savings and allow the town to seek ideas for the development of that property. There have been numerous suggestions about what could happen on the site of the E.B. Newton School property and none should be ruled out. We’ve heard anything from an indoor swimming pool to office suites to a site for vocational education (allowing Winthrop students to supplement their other courses).

Needless to say, there will be much discussion about President Turco’s proposal over the next few months. But in these financial times, all ideas must be considered.

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