December 2016 Newsletter

Propel Economic Growth by Supporting Education Initiatives

John Adams said, “There are two types of education… One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.” What kind of things do you teach to prepare for the working world?” Atty. Michael Gallagher

On June 30, Atty. Michael Gallagher moderated the second Speakers’ Series—a panel discussion on education as a major driver of economic development in Lowell. He noted that for the first time in the city’s history, the leadership of all educational institutions changed in one year. Atty. Gallagher introduced Jacquie Moloney, Chancellor, UMass Lowell; James Mabry, President, Middlesex Community College; and Salah Khelfaoui, Lowell Superintendent of Schools.

Each panelist gave basic information on their areas:

Lowell Public Schools

  • Over 14,000 enrolled; 2,000 attend private or charter schools

  • Lowell is the 4-5th largest district in Mass.

  • 60 languages are spoken; 26 languages in one grade

  • Over 2,000 employees, most are teachers

  • Annual budget is $183M, $135M is from the state, balance is from city and grants

  • 80% of LHS students go on to higher ed


  • Over 4,500 enrolled; approximately 2,000 are from LHS or other Lowell schools

  • Over 1,200 employees, 20% live in Lowell

  • Annual budget is $75M, 1/3 from state,  1/3 from federal gov., less than 1/3 from tuition

UMass Lowell

  • Enrollment is 17,500: 12,000 undergraduate, 4,000 graduate, balance online

  • Over 2,000 employees

  • Annual budget is $400M, 22% is from the state

Chancellor Maloney: “We focus on skills that build an inclusive community and encourage entrepreneurship. Out of the 85,000 alums, approximately 85% stay in the Commonwealth. According to, UMass Lowell is the top-ranked public research institution in New England for salary potential.”

President Mabry: “Critical thinking skills, teamwork, information literacy are how we prepare our students. The most important skill—the ability to think quantitatively.”

Superintendent Khelfaoui: Our main goal is to prepare for college. We have adopted STEM, a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. STEM is the future. It is the key to the best career options, and a key to wise decisions.

Atty. Gallagher: “What are your principal challenges?”

President Mabry: “People and money. We are experiencing a demographic change, smaller graduating classes impacts funding. We are not getting more expensive, funding is shifting from the state to the students.”

Superintendent Khelfaoui: “Capacity is our number one challenge. Classrooms can be as large as 30. Fifth grade is the largest. Lowell could use a new middle school. The second challenge is diversity. Our schools are 67%-70% diverse. Our teachers do not reflect the multi-cultural student population. A third challenge is the metrics the state employs to measure accountability. We are compared to Weston and Wellesley. I am advocating for the creation of an alternative accountability for urban systems.”

Chancellor Maloney: “We are mitigating revenue stress through entrepreneurship. You may have noticed the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders that is at the Tsongas Center. The rising student debt is a challenge. The average student at UMass Lowell carries a debt of $32K, the avereg for public institutions is $45-$50. It is $80-$90 for private institutions. We are going to reduce debt through financial literacy.”

Atty. Gallagher: “The future of our city is in your hands. What would you ask of the city?”

President Mabry: “Increased public support for education. It is critical to our economy. I strongly support efforts like Project Learn.”

Superintendent Khelfaoui: “Visit our schools.”

Chancellor Maloney: “Keep doing what you are doing at the Lowell Plan, supporting and advocating for education. Work hard to tell this positive story. That’s the key to our success.”

Atty. Gallagher invited questions and comments from the audience.

Jim Campbell: “It is clear to me, after my experience building schools in Lowell in the 80s, that education drives economic development.”

Bill Samaras: “What does Lowell have to entice businesses? Lowell is the place to be because of its educational institutions.”

Jim Campanini: “Seattle, Minneapolis, and Walla Walla all have slogans like, All Our Kids Go To College. We’ve never had a slogan for education in Lowell. We are all doing the right thing, but a campaign would draw attention to our success.

President Mabry: “The slogan is coming.”

Atty. Gallagher: “Thank you to our distinguished education leaders for their passion and energy.”