LWVB Positions on issues.
Education is one of the high priorities of the LWVB. Positions that were first approved over 40 years ago were reevaluated in 2012 and 2013. Many have become an integral part of the Brookline (and Massachusetts) Public School Systems, such as: "The School Committee should have an up-to-date written policy manual to include an overall educational philosophy for the Town". Current positions reflect current policies and issues.
a. Equalization of educational opportunities in Brookline.
"The equalization of educational opportunity position of the LWVB mirrors the position of the LWVUS supporting "Equality of Opportunity... in Education, Employment and Housing". With eight individual K-8 schools in the Public School System of Brookline, compliance with this position requires regular monitoring of facilities, student-teacher ratios, administration/teacher/staff diversity and curriculum."
b. Concept of voluntary cooperation among educational systems within the Boston Metropolitan areas and the Brookline School Committee and administration in its efforts to join in planning for metropolitan cooperation.
"This position was first adopted in 1973 and reflects the variety of challenges that have been faced by large metropolitan school districts and the responsibilities of nearby relatively small school districts. For example, from the position of LWVMA: "The League supported METCO, a voluntary busing program (legislated in 1966) to alleviate the problems of unequal opportunity and racial segregation. Local League members serve on METCO advisory boards and in host family programs. During the spring and summer of 1974, the League worked for the peaceful implementation of desegregation in the Boston public schools. Members joined the Boston Vigil for Peace and Education and served as monitors in schools and on buses. The League was an organizing member of the Massachusetts Coalition for Civil Rights." The Public Schools of Brookline were one of the original school districts to join the METCO program and, in 2014-2015, had the second highest number of METCO students in the state. In 1969, in coordination with the Boston Public Schools, the Brookline Public Schools were one of eight surrounding school districts that founded the EDCO Collaborative, "...focusing on the power of inter-district and inter-agency collaboration to meet the needs of underserved and at risk students and adults." It now has 18 member districts and emphasizes student programs and educator training."
Support partial pre-funding of Town pensions and personnel policies recognizing costs of future retirement benefits.
"This is current policy in the Town of Brookline but continues to be an important issue that can be affected by financial pressures."
The LWVB will support measures to: a. Provide as much affordable and moderate income housing as possible, in accordance with applicable regulations b. Support preservation of existing affordable units and negotiate the longest terms of affordability c. Encourage the creation of affordable units in new development d. Create affordable housing in all parts of Brookline e. Work toward meeting Chapter 40B affordable housing goals in order to be eligible for state funds. f. Give preference, to the extent permitted by law, to Brookline residents and people with ties to Brookline. g. Encourage design of all housing to blend into surrounding context including the use of aesthetically pleasing materials. h. Insure ongoing compliance with affordability requirements of residents. i. Encourage mixed use and mixed income buildings j. Pursue predictable funding streams for maintaining and expanding affordable and moderate housing k. Maintain/increase affordable and moderate income rental units through Town programs.
"The LWVB position on affordable housing is based on LWVMA and LWVUS positions that promote access to decent housing and a suitable living environment affordable for all. The League supports programs, policies and regulations to address the housing needs of low and moderate income families and individuals."
4. Land Use
The LWVB will support measures to: a. Encourage payment by tax-exempt institutions for services rendered by the Town in lieu of taxes. Property tax exemptions should be clearly defined and should, at the most, include only those properties which are used in the direct performance of the organizations' tax-exempt functions. Off- campus residences used by Presidents or other employees should be taxed. b. Provide publicly financed incentives for rehabilitation of older houses in need of serious repair. c. Expand Brookline's tax base through development of under-utilized commercial properties in ways that meet Town regulations, allowing for feasible variances.
5. Town Government
a. Town Meeting (1) Measures that implement a public recorded vote of Town Meeting Members. (2) A time limit for all speakers equitably distributed both pro and con. (3) A balanced presentation of arguments on warrant articles.
"Position (1) has been implemented. A League representative was appointed by the Town Moderator to serve on the committee studying this issue. Town Meeting now has a wireless keypad electronic system in place to record individual Town Meeting votes."
b. Executive Branch (1) Encourage the efforts of the Committee on Town Organization and Structure to evaluate the Executive branch of Brookline's Government. (2) Support governmental approaches that would allow the Board of Selectmen to give greater emphasis to comprehensive and long range planning. (3) The Board of Selectmen should retain their licensing function subject to establishing guidelines upon which to make their decisions. (4) To make the licensing process more accountable and efficient, a broad-based Town Committee should be established to develop clear guidelines, which could include possible revision of zoning by-laws.
"(1). The LWVB has supported CTOS from its inception. CTOS studies & makes recommendations on the structure of our town government. The League initially studied the concept of transitioning from an Executive Secretary to Town Administrator form of Govt. and when CTOS recommended the latter, the League agreed and successfully lobbied for it. (2). LWVB has long urged Town officials to emphasize comprehensive and long range planning. As a result of our long- term planning study, we developed focus groups as part of the League & Town-sponsored "FutureSearch". This in turn led to the mandated Comprehensive Plan being treated as a living document and to the origin of the Brookline Neighborhood Alliance."
c. Fiscal (1) Provided the need can be documented and the cost justified, support a general override to increase Town operating revenues, and any combination of debt exclusion, capital expenditure exclusion, or general override for funding needed capital improvements to its buildings and equipment. (2) Support efforts to achieve management and accounting reforms.
"Early on, LWVB voted to support and lobbied for the new Lincoln School Override. For a May 1995 vote, under this position, the LWVB studied and "documented the need and justified the cost of...", and thus supported, an debt exclusion override vote for expansion of the High School. For the May 2015 vote LWVB decided to remain neutral on the Operational Override and Debt Exclusion Questions and to focus on informing the voters. LWVB conducted one Forum, with both sides represented, three Information Sessions at different locations and, in the Voter's Guide, presented the Ballot Questions and statements from both sides"
The Brookline League believes that there is a need for further Public Parking in Coolidge Corner and that there should be a feasibility Study of a Structure at the Centre St. East parking lot. Subject to consideration of the transportation needs of the overall Coolidge Corner community, this structure should include space for parking, mixed use (retail, office, housing, etc.) as well as civic amenities such as green space, benches, etc.
The League supports transportation measures to help alleviate the parking burden in Brookline. These could include the use of Zip cars, MBTA subsidy passes, lower rates, and/or dedicated spaces for carpoolers, bicycle racks, shuttle buses, etc.