Massachusetts Students Score among World Leaders on PISA Reading, Science and Math Tests

Massachusetts students’ reading and science scores place the state in a league with the top-scoring nations in the world. These results are evidence of what many of us already know: Massachusetts schools offer a world-class education.

If Massachusetts were a nation, it would share the top spot in reading with eight other nations worldwide. In science, the state’s students came in second, trailing only students from Singapore. In math, 11 other nations were ahead of the Commonwealth.

The results come from the 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a triennial international survey designed to assess how well 15-year-old students can apply their knowledge and skills.

Last year, over 500,000 students participated in PISA, including more than 5,700 students from the United States. Massachusetts was one of two U.S. states that participated in order to receive state-level results that can be compared to the results of other participating systems. A random, representative sample of approximately 1,600 students from 49 Massachusetts public schools took a two-hour, computer-based PISA test between September and November 2015.

Students from Massachusetts outscored students from the other participating state, North Carolina, as well the nation as a whole.

The Program for International Student Assessment, first conducted in 2000, is coordinated by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries. In this country, PISA is conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics. Results are reported both in terms of average scaled scores and the percent of students reaching selected proficiency levels. Average scores are reported on a scale of 0 to 1,000. There are six proficiency levels in mathematics and science and seven levels in reading. In all three subjects, students reaching level 5 or above demonstrate higher-level skills and are considered “top performers” in the subject. Students scoring below level 2, which the OECD considers baseline proficiency, are referred to as “lower performers.”

For additional information about PISA, visit the National Center for Education Statistics’ website by clicking here.

In addition to PISA, OECD also offers the OECD Test for Schools, an international benchmarking assessment for individual schools. The voluntary, computer-based test takes three hours and 15 minute of testing time for 50 to 85 15-year-old students at a single school and assesses a school’s performance and students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills.

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New law requires posting of legal notices online

mapublicnotivesIn July, Governor Charles Baker signed into law H1566, An Act relative to electronic publication of certain legal notices. The bill was filed by Representative Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin) in January 2015 and was enacted by the House and Senate last week.

The new law requires that all legal notices must now appear, not only in a newspaper’s print publication, but also on the newspaper’s website and on a statewide website that may be maintained as a repository for such notices

“As you know, print media subscriptions are at an all-time low, but readership of newspapers is at all-time high because of the availability online,” noted Roy. “This new law will capitalize on online readership and increase access to information, including public records, documents and hearing notices. It encourages civic engagement and it will revolutionize access to public notices, long left to the back pages of newsprint in small fonts and unattractive layouts.”

“Publishing legal notices online is a common sense move in our modern digital age. This new law will enhance transparency and make sure public information is accessible to residents across the Commonwealth,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland).

This increased access will be accomplished at no additional cost to any government entity. The Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association (MNPA), on behalf of the state’s newspapers, will bear the cost of launching, operating and maintaining this statewide website. In fact, the MNPA just recently launched the new Public Notice Massachusetts website, which can be found at masspublicnotices.org, and a number of newspapers have already started uploading notices to the site.

The new MNPA site is based on a legal-notices platform developed in Illinois and in use in a number of states, including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It will give users access to all public notices from all newspapers in the state. In addition, it features a smart search capability that will allow users to receive daily updates relative to legal notices that respond to user delineated search terms.

“The Illinois site has been a great success and the new MNPA site will be a welcome addition to the Massachusetts landscape,” added Roy. “Indeed, public notices inform citizens of the everyday activities of government. From government spending to developing new policies, it is important for people to be informed of actions taken by public officials that affect citizens’ everyday lives. Without public notices, citizens cannot properly and adequately make informed decisions.”

“Legal notices are an essential means by which citizens are kept informed about the actions of their state and local governments and courts,” said Robert J. Ambrogi, MNPA executive director. “The newspapers of Massachusetts are committed to ensuring the broadest-possible access to these notices, both in print and online. We appreciate the efforts of Rep. Roy to make this possible.”

The new law will take effect in 180 days.

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House passes act relative to transgender discrimination

On Wednesday, June 1, 2016, the Massachusetts’s House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass H4343, An Act relative to transgender anti-discrimination. With this vote, the House solidified its role as a civil rights leader and passed legislation that provides equal access to public places for every resident of the Commonwealth, regardless of gender identity. Public accommodations include, but are not limited to, restaurants, nursing homes, coffee shops, grocery stores and sports arenas. At its core, this legislation simply prevents discrimination against transgender individuals in public accommodations by adding the phrase “gender identity” to pre-existing law.

I supported H4343 because it was the right thing to do. I am committed to the principle that everyone deserves to live without fear of discrimination simply for being who they are. The decision to support the bill was made after lengthy research, participation in robust hearings, discussions and deliberations, and careful and due consideration of each communication received on the topic.

The decision also rested on the personal and often heart-wrenching testimony of individuals who shared stories of anxiety, depression, and despair. The reality is that transgender people are too often the victims of harassment and violent crime. According to a 2014 Fenway Health survey, 65 percent of transgender Massachusetts residents reported experiencing discrimination in public spaces including restaurants, retail establishments, and health service centers. This bill will enhance public safety and hopefully bring an end to fears and apprehension that have arisen from these unfortunate acts.

H4343 builds on the Transgender Equal Rights Bill, passed in 2011, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity in housing, education, employment and credit. It completes a near decade of advocacy around full inclusion of transgender residents in communities across the Commonwealth and it closes the loophole and protects transgender persons in public areas. Massachusetts adds itself to a rapidly expanding list of towns, states, and companies that have addressed the need to protect the transgender community.

It has received exceptional support from businesses, sports teams, faith leaders, labor unions and law enforcement across the state. Over the course of the past year, more than 200 Massachusetts businesses and members of all five major New England sports teams came out in support of this bill as central to promoting equal access rights for everyone in Massachusetts.

Many places of public accommodation in Massachusetts already have policies that do not allow discrimination based on gender identity. In 2002, only three percent of Fortune 500 companies had protections in place for transgender employees’ today, more than 75 percent do. The sampling of those businesses contacted report no problems and have indicated that this is a good business policy. These places include restaurants like Olive Garden, Capital Grille, and corporate-owned McDonald’s; retailers like Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, and the Gap; healthcare providers like Tufts Medical Center and Harvard Pilgrim; banks like Eastern Bank and State Street; and fitness centers like Planet Fitness and the YWCA.

The experience of these places of public accommodation doing business in Massachusetts is born out in other states with public accommodations protections of been in place for years, and sometimes decades. Minnesota, where this discrimination has been prohibited since 1993, reports no incidents of an individual asserting gender identity protection as a defense to improper or illegal conduct. None of the other 17 states and the District of Columbia which provide similar transgender protections have reported such an incident.

On May 12, 2016 the Massachusetts’s Senate passed its own version of the legislation. The two bills will be sent to a conference committee for reconciliation. The most significant difference between the House and Senate versions pertains to a topic that was raised consistently by opponents to the bill. Under the House version, which has the support of Governor Baker, the Attorney General must issue guidelines regarding assertion of gender identity for an improper purpose to law enforcement should that situation arise.

I thank everyone who called, wrote, or otherwise weighed in on this topic. With your help Massachusetts continues its legacy as an active opponent of discrimination and a pioneer in equality.

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Detox unit at Essex jail provides hope

IMG_7888Rep. Roy joined several SAFE Coalition members for a tour of the Essex County Correctional Facility with prison officials, Wrentham District Court probation officials, and officials from Norfolk County Sheriff’s office.

Sheriff Frank Cousins began the tour with a presentation on his 42 bed detox facility which opened on December 7, 2015. We saw firsthand the innovative approach the sheriff is using to combat substance abuse disorder with pretrial detainees. The unit provides a positive environment for detoxification and long-term planning and provides a 28-day comprehensive treatment program to pretrial detainees to effectively address their addiction.

Detainees wear a blue uniform, not the prisoner’s typical orange jumpsuit. The correction officers are dressed in khakis and polo shirts instead of the standard prison guard uniforms. And those residing in the unit attend five counseling sessions per day, as well as one-on-one meetings with a counselor.

Sheriff Cousins calls the unit a “ground-breaking” approach to treating non-violent prisoners with addiction. Rather than sending them to jail and leaving them to fend for themselves when they are released, the detox unit is designed to treat the addiction and arrange a long-term care plan while avoiding incarceration. Upon completion of the 28 days, individuals may be able to dispose of their cases and utilize court mandated tools as an alternative to further incarceration.

Typically, these pretrial individuals go through a 1-3 day “spin-dry” detox process in jail while awaiting further notice from the courts, and as a result their addiction is never adequately addressed. With this new process, individuals are remanded to the Essex County Sheriff’s Department’s Detox Unit by the presiding judge.

The sheriff’s department created the detox unit in a separate space within the jail compound. The walls were freshly painted, and a steel gate was replaced with a door in an attempt to create a space that feels more like a hospital than a jail.

The inmates sleep, eat, exercise and attend counseling sessions all within the confines of the unit.

“What we’re really trying to do is change the culture,” said Sean Lebroda, director of the detox unit. “We’re trying to work with them so they’re not left to their own devices. It’s a culture shift.”

Section 20B of Chapter 127 of the Massachusetts General Laws provides the Sheriff with the power and discretion to assign certain detainees to a pre-trial diversion program. Upon completion of the 28-day treatment program individuals may be able to dispose of their cases and utilize non-custodial tools as opposed to traditional incarceration. Individuals who successfully complete the program may be recommended to continue with services such as probation, day reporting at an Office of Community Corrections, drug testing, electronic monitoring, and in some instances sober houses.

The cost of running the detox unit, which includes paying a medical provider and addiction-treatment professionals, is about $1.7 million per year. Cousins said the unit should be able to treat 500 people per year, which comes to about $3,400 per person.

Sheriff Cousins provided us with many good ideas that we can hopefully implement in our area.

For the Boston Globe report on the unit, click here.  To view the Channel 7 News report on the unit, click here.

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MGH’s Dr. John Kelly talks opiates at S.A.F.E. coalition meeting

Dr. John Kelly, Harvard professor and Massachusetts General Hospital addiction expert, spoke at our second S.A.F.E. coalition meeting about the mechanisms of, and strategies for, combating and de-stigmatizing substance abuse disorders. You can view the video of his presentation by clicking on the image below.

We had a great turnout for the talk about addiction which Dr. Kelly noted is caused by several factors, including genetic predisposition and exposure to the drug itself. Drugs, Kelly said, can short-circuit the reward pathways of the brain and cause the release of dopamine, a chemical that causes pleasure. “(The pathways) developed to make sure we feed ourselves, stay alive, reproduce, engage with other people,” he said. “People tend to like the effect (of drugs), and people find it very hard to cope with the abnormal release (of dopamine).” The brain adapts to the high levels of dopamine by becoming less sensitive to it.

“When a person is addicted, they can’t sense the normal levels or reward,” he said. “This dysphoria means people find it extra hard to stop using the only thing they remember will help them.”

Dr. Kelly’s talk was followed by a panel discussion and audience engagement. The panel included:

  • Jonathan Cabezas, the Director of Services at Number 16 in Wakefield, MA;
  • Brooke, a 39 year old recovering addict whose opiate addiction started in 2003;
  • Jennifer Rowe, a Norfolk County ADA, who has spoken frequently about scope of the drug issues in Norfolk County, particularly concerning opioid abuse;
  • Amy Leone, a LMHC with clinical practices in Milford and Upton, who works with those struggling with addiction, in the path of recovery, or those effected by others substance addictions; and
  • Dan Lynch, President of Lynch Wellness and Recovery Foundation, who has more than 20 years of experience in the field of addiction.

It was a remarkable educational experience and helped increase awareness about addiction, and help put us on a pathway to finding a cure for this disease.

For the Milford Daily News report on the meeting, see http://bit.ly/1DMBsC3. For the Franklin Matters report which includes the PowerPoint slides, see http://bit.ly/1TvgK0i.

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Cooking with the Franklin legislative delegation

There is an old saying attributed to Otto von Bismarck that “to retain respect for sausages and laws, one must not watch them in the making.” When we make sausages or laws, we generally like the outcome, but we don’t want to see how they’re made. Recently the Franklin legislative delegation was in town, not to make laws or sausage, but to cook some things that were actually fun to watch.

Rep. Roy joined his colleagues Senator Karen Spilka and Senator Richard J. Ross at a taping for some cooking shows to benefit the Franklin Food Pantry. They worked with Trisha Perez Kennealy from Artistry Kitchen in Franklin to prepare healthy meals from food available at the food pantry. The meals included several variations of chicken, a kale soup, and a sausage stir fry. Each were prepared in under 30 minutes. The segment below features the sausage stir fry recipe.

The Franklin Food Pantry serves nearly 600 families annually, including 1600 individuals. More than a third are children. About 75 clients “shop” at the Pantry weekly, and 270 visit monthly.

Typical clients include working families trying to make ends meet, people experiencing a temporary job loss, individuals whose SNAP (food stamps) benefits are reduced, and seniors. A growing number of seniors are seeking help from the Pantry since most are on a fixed income and are impacted by such things as medication costs and higher fuel expenses.

The legislators took the opportunity to highlight the work of the pantry and at the same time show some of the healthy options that are available when preparing food from the pantry. During the show, they talked more about the work done at the pantry and how residents can help in this effort to provide food security in our community.

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Time capsule to return to State House cornerstone

time capsuleNext Wednesday (June 17) an elaborate production will take place in front of the State House, when a 220-year-old time capsule will be cemented into the building’s cornerstone for the third time. The pomp and circumstance, featuring remarks by Gov. Charlie Baker and Secretary William Galvin, will culminate with a traditional Masonic cornerstone ceremony officiated by Harvey Waugh, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts. The ceremony will be similar to ones that would have been performed in 1795 and 1855 at the capsule’s previous dedications.

Relics from 1795 and 1855 will be sealed back inside the granite block, including coins, newspapers, and an engraved plaque. Mementos from 2015 will be added and a list of contents will be read at the event.

A Clydesdale-drawn “brewer wagon” will bring a replica cornerstone up Park Street at 9:45 a.m. Around 400 schoolchildren will be assembled on the State House lawn to take part in the festivities. Music will be provided by two bands from two different eras — a colonial fife and drum group and the Northeast Italian Band. Patriotic hymns will be sung by the 215th Army Band Vocal Quartet.

The action will move up the building’s front steps as the ceremony takes place on a landing at 10 a.m. Members of the Ancient & Honorable Artillery Company will line the rest of the stairs up to the portico, where state legislators will assemble.

The capsule was originally placed by Gov. Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and William Scollay in 1795. Revere was head of the state’s Freemasons with Scollay as his deputy. That began the involvement of the Massachusetts Grand Lodge, which continued when the box was rededicated in 1855 by Gov. Henry Gardner and Grand Master Winslow Lewis.

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Franklin Community Coalition to meet on June 30

coalition3A few weeks ago, the Franklin Town Council hosted a thoughtful discussion on the opioid epidemic. While I was pleased to be a part of that discussion, it was unsettling to see the damage that is wreaking havoc on people and their families; those who struggle daily with the disease of addiction.

No community is immune from this crisis, but there are multi-faceted ways to address it. The Legislature has taken a number of steps through laws and budget appropriations to get in front of the problem. And it has been supportive of efforts to establish community coalitions to confront opioid abuse. Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey has taken the lead in establishing coalitions throughout Norfolk County and he is happy to add Franklin to the list.

Plans for a Franklin Coalition are well under way and we will meet for the first time onTuesday, June 30, 2015 at 7 p.m. in the Franklin High School Auditorium. At the first meeting, we will have an opportunity to discuss the mission and objectives of the coalition, hear from Community Coalition members from other towns, and hear from some experts in the field about how to address the opioid epidemic which is plaguing Massachusetts communities. We will also have a chance to talk about what we would like to see in Franklin.

On June 3, in preparation for our first coalition meeting, we met with Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey and his Coalition Leaders in Canton (see photo above). Jenn Rowe and Ryan Walker from his office have been spearheading this effort for Norfolk County. Franklin Town Councilor Robert Dellorco, Franklin Detective John Ryan, student Ben Waters, counselor Jennifer Knight, and legislative aide Chris Yancich joined us for this briefing and discussion on the ways that we can combat the opioid epidemic in our community. The information will prove helpful in the formation of our community coalition.

In preparation for our first coalition meeting, please watch the Franklin Town Council meeting from May 20, 2015. You can view it by clicking here. You can also view the Milford Daily News report on the meeting by clicking here. In addition, you are urged to read the the Massachusetts Health Council’s report entitled Local Approaches to the Opioid Overdose Epidemic:How Massachusetts Communities Are Responding Today. You can view that report by clicking here.

Finally, you are urged to view Dr. Anne Bergen’s TV show “It Takes a Village” onFranklin.TV where the topic is discussed. I was honored to join the Police Chief, Town Administrator, and Superintendent of Schools on that show to discuss the opiate problem. It was a fascinating discussion as we explored the things that are happening at the state and local level to improve and save lives tarnished by addiction. To see when the show will be aired, click here for Franklin.TV’s directory. You can also find the Milford Daily News report on the show by clicking here.

If you know anyone who is interested in being a part of the coalition, tell them they can sign up to be on the email distribution list by clicking here. And you should feel free to forward this email to your friends and colleagues and urge them to sign up for this effort.

It will take a team effort to take on this epidemic, but together we can save lives and heal fractured families. I look forward to working with you.

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House passes FY16 budget

budget pressRepresentative Jeffrey N. Roy (D-Franklin) joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass its FY16 budget which emphasizes economic growth through investments in multiple areas including education and local aid, reform to the state’s transportation system, and an acute focus on improving behavioral health services.

The $38.05 billion spending bill highlights the House’s ongoing commitment to fiscal prudence and targeted investments, a practice that has resulted in Massachusetts retaining its AA+ bond rating, the highest in the state’s history. The budget includes no new taxes or fees and reduces its reliance on one time revenue sources. For the first time since 2007, it does not withdraw any funds from the Commonwealth’s stabilization fund, leaving the balance in excess of $1 billion.

“The House of Representative’s budget demonstrates that through fiscal prudence and thoughtful investments we can achieve sustainable economic growth and set the standard for aiding citizens facing adversity,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “As in the past, we have had the foresight to take immediate action on issues like transportation reform and local aid funding, while laying the foundation for long-term excellence through early education and care and workforce development.  I am particularly proud of our focus on behavioral health which emphasizes the need to consider prevention, access and recovery. I thank Chairman Dempsey and the members of the House for their outstanding work on this budget.”

“This budget strikes the right balance between fiscal discipline and smart investing in the programs and services that matter most to our constituents,” said Representative Brian S. Dempsey, Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means (D-Haverhill).  “I thank Speaker DeLeo for his leadership in ensuring that this budget reflects the priorities of all members of the House of Representatives as reflected in its bi-partisan and unanimous support. The House budget devotes funding to invest in our future by providing significant new resources to early education, school aid, and economic development, while also proposing creative new solutions to tackle the Commonwealth’s challenges especially in the areas of opiate addiction and homelessness.”

“This budget is a true reflection of our commitment to investments in education and economic development, while also proposing creative new solutions to the Commonwealth’s challenges,” said Representative Roy, a member of the House Committee on Ways & Means. “I thank Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Dempsey for their work in helping us build a strong set of policy statements in a fiscally prudent manner that gained unanimous support among the House members. I am also delighted that we were able to secure funds the purchase of school safety zone lighting for Franklin and Medway, along with $50,000 for the Horace Mann Park and statue.”

The budget enhances the House’s longstanding reputation as a champion of municipalities. FY16 marks the first time that Massachusetts has access to slots revenue, providing a new funding stream of about $105 million. Investments in local aid include a $35 million increase to Unrestricted General Government Aid and an all-time high in chapter 70 funding of $4.5 billion, providing an increase of $25 per pupil.

The budget takes immediate steps to address systemic management problems at the MBTA by including a series of procurement reform tools such as a 5-year moratorium on the Pacheco Law. The budget will call for an independent audit of the T’s maintenance protocols and fiscal liabilities. It also strengthens the Inspector General’s  internal special unit to monitor the quality, efficiency and integrity of the department’s operating and capital programs. These updates follow the two transportation reform plans accompanied by major funding increases the House has passed since 2009.

Further distinguishing Massachusetts as a national leader in education, this legislation makes targeted investments in early education and care (EEC) that underscore the House’s ongoing commitment to the Commonwealth’s youngest students. The budget creates a framework to support expanded access to high-quality EEC programming while recognizing the efforts of our EEC workforce. Provisions include:

  • $5 million to help attract and support high-quality educators;
  • $5 million for childcare vouchers which will move 833 children off of the existing waitlist;
  • $4 million to support the delivery of high-quality EEC programming through efforts that include improved access to technical assistance, training and workforce development.

Recognizing that education and economic development are intrinsically paired, the budget restores funding to two of the House‘s hallmark programs. It also enhances the House’s focus on bolstering job opportunities for residents of all skillsets in diverse regions of the Commonwealth.

  • MassCAN: $1.5 million to establish widespread, progressive computer science curriculum in public school through a public-private matching program;
  • Talent Pipeline: $1.5 million to encourage young innovators to get a head start on their futures by matching stipends for interns at innovation start-ups, and to provide mentoring opportunities for new entrepreneurs;
  • Continues to fund the Massachusetts Manufacturing Partnership, a program that has shown early results in closing the skills gap.

The FY16 budget strengthens behavioral health efforts in last year’s budget and the landmark substance addiction law through numerous investments and programs. Many of the provisions focus on co-occurring disorders and finding sustainable ways to aid in both prevention and recovery including:

  • More than $10 million in new funding for programs focused on substance addiction prevention and treatment, including $3.6 million new transitional support services beds;
  • $2.2 million for new residential recovery beds;
  • $2.5 million to expand patient access to Vivitrol;
  • More than $13 million for the Department of Mental Health to annualize and expand community placements to free up beds in the DMH pipeline.

In additional to behavioral health and substance addiction initiatives, the House’s budget includes numerous provisions to support Massachusetts’ most vulnerable citizens.

  • As it has in the past, the House focuses its homelessness efforts on prevention, this year devoting $20 million in new funding to programs that have achieved proven results. Funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) is increased to an historically-high level to help families stay in their homes and out of the costly shelter program;
  • Massachusetts has proven itself as a national leader in supporting those with developmental disabilities. It also allocates $12 million in new funding for autism services and maintains critical programs within the Department of Developmental Services;
  • Ensures that there will be no waitlist for elder homecare services;
  • Nearly triples funding for witness protection services.

The House budget includes a number of local budget items including $60,000 the purchase of school safety zone lighting for Franklin, $60,000 the purchase of school safety zone lighting for Medway, and $50,000 for a park and statue in honor of Horace Mann. Mann was born in Franklin on May 4, 1796 and Rep. Roy has been working hard to secure these funds for a fitting memorial to the father of public education as part of the downtown re-vitalization project.

The budget will now go to the Senate.

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Tri-County to host third Manufacturing Roundtable

Rep. Roy speaking with instructor Bob Vozzella and Superintendent Steve Dockrey at Tri-County's new advanced manufacturing site.

Rep. Roy speaking with instructor Bob Vozzella and Superintendent Steve Dockrey at Tri-County’s new advanced manufacturing site.

State and federal officials will join representatives from local manufacturing companies at Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School on Friday, March 27, for a roundtable discussion about the state of the advanced manufacturing industry and its ever-growing need for skilled workers.

The roundtable, hosted by Tri-County administrators, Representative John Fernandes (D-Milford), and Representative Jeffrey Roy (D-Franklin), will begin at 8:45 a.m. in the school’s library.

U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III and Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash are among the officials who will be in attendance. They will be joined by representatives from the 495/MetroWest Partnership, MassDevelopment, and National Grid. Manufacturers from all of Tri-County’s 11 sending towns will also be in attendance.

“As you know, manufacturing is vitally important to the Massachusetts economy,” said Representative Roy. “It is the sixth largest employment sector here, and is helping to lead us out of the recession. In Massachusetts, manufacturing contributes to more than 10 percent of gross state product (GSP). Currently there are 7,680 manufacturing establishments in Massachusetts that employ more than 275,000 residents. Over the next five years, manufacturing establishments are expected to expand their employment by an estimated 65 percent. In order to sustain this growth, we need to help by developing a strong nexus between educational and training opportunities and the specialized worker skills required by these companies to ultimately succeed.”

This will be the third roundtable held at Tri-County in just over a year. Previous meetings focused on addressing the skilled labor shortage in Massachusetts. This year’s event will focus on progress made since those roundtables and the work that still needs to be done.
“The Tri-County manufacturing roundtables have been very successful. It is a great opportunity to bring manufacturers, educators, and legislators together to address the anomaly of manufacturing in Massachusetts – plenty of good jobs exist, but manufacturers can’t find enough appropriately-trained people to fill them,” said Representative Fernandes, Founder and Chairman of the Joint Bi-Partisan Legislative Manufacturing Caucus. “With collaborative efforts like these, we are beginning to see concrete solutions take shape.”

Tri-County used recommendations from the previous roundtables to purchase manufacturing equipment in fall 2014. The CNC Toolroom Vertical Machining Center and the CNC Toolroom Turning Center were purchased through the FY14 Vocational Opportunity Challenge (VOC) Grant.

Shortly after purchasing the equipment, Tri-County partnered with the Wentworth Institute of Technology. In January, the college launched its first class in Tri-County’s newly renovated advanced manufacturing facility. Instructor Bob Vozzella said some of his students drive more than an hour to take the 15-week Machine Tool Setup and Operation course.

The new equipment will also be used by the high school’s Engineering Technology Program. The program uses a hands-on exploratory approach with state-of-the-art technologies and tools to introduce students to various engineering concepts. This machinery will allow the instructors to implement advanced manufacturing concepts as part of their curriculum.

“The equipment will not be idle during the day, since the Engineering students will be trained to use code to design and create parts for projects. Our robotics team at times will need to create unique parts, and having this equipment will be invaluable. These two machines are of the highest industry standard, and will offer one more career pathway for students in the Engineering program,” said Jean George, Tri-County’s Vocational Coordinator.

While the two machines are a good start, the school hopes to add more equipment and expand its operations.

“Hopefully, the roundtable will allow Tri-County to highlight how much we have accomplished with two new machines in a short period of time,” said Tri-County Superintendent-Director Stephen Dockray. “Our goal is to partner with the state and local manufacturing firms to provide a high quality Advanced Manufacturing Program and begin to provide the skilled labor force that is so badly needed.”

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