Malden Teacher Jennifer Hedrington is 2021 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year

MALDEN – Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley today announced that Jennifer Hedrington, a seventh-grade math teacher at Ferryway School in Malden, is the 2021 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year.

The Massachusetts Teacher of the Year Program is the state’s top award for educators and annually recognizes excellence in teaching across the Commonwealth by selecting a teacher who exemplifies the dedication, commitment and positive contributions of educators statewide.

Ms. Hedrington is the 59th recipient of this award and automatically becomes Massachusetts’ candidate for the National Teacher of the Year program.

“The relationships that teachers like Ms. Hedrington build with their students and their students’ families are important to children’s growth and development and have been made more critical as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I am pleased to see Ms. Hedrington recognized for her work, and I know that she represents many other dedicated educators across the Commonwealth”

“As co-chair of the Joint Committee on Education, I know that Massachusetts is lucky to have many, many strong educators, and I’m thrilled that Ms. Hedrington, who works right here in Malden, is being honored and will represent all of them,” said Senator Jason Lewis, who represents Malden in the State Senate.

Ms. Hedrington is in her 16th year of teaching secondary school mathematics and her 10th year of teaching in Malden. She works hard to develop lessons that promote higher order thinking skills and that encourage her students to explore mathematical concepts, and she also teaches her students’ whole selves. She takes time for “commercial breaks” during her math lessons to discuss issues that are affecting the school or larger community. She supported students when they spoke to the School Committee to address racist incidents, and she has delivered professional development presentations about trauma-informed classrooms. One year, she created the League of Distinguished Gentleman to promote participants’ engagement and growth in their community and school.

In addition to her excellence in the classroom, Ms. Hedrington also helps bring the community into the school. During Black History Month, she prioritized involving students’ families in the celebration, and she encourages her students to engage with the community beyond the school walls, whether by gathering donated pencils for a school in Tanzania or by fundraising for a child in Ghana who needed eye surgery.

“Ms. Hedrington is a wonderful advocate for her students, whether the subject is math or life,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “It is a pleasure to recognize her contributions to Malden and its students with this honor.”

“Beyond math, Ms. Hedrington’s work includes empowering students and improving her school,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “I am pleased to present this honor to someone who brings so much joy to her work.”

“Each day, Ms. Hedrington seizes the opportunity that all educators have to profoundly impact the lives of their students both in and outside the classroom,” said Representative Steven Ultrino, Ed.D. “As an educator, I understand how much hard work goes into the exemplary education that Ms. Hedrington provides for our students here in Malden, and I’m proud to see her recognized for this work that so often goes unseen.”

“As a former seventh-grade teacher myself and the mom of a second grader, I know the kind of difference an amazing teacher can have in her students’ lives,” said Representative Kate Lipper-Garabedian. “I extend my sincerest congratulations to Ms. Hedrington on receiving the state’s highest award for educators in recognition of her incredible impact on the students of Malden and beyond.”

“Massachusetts is lucky to have teachers like Ms. Hedrington in our schools,” said Representative Paul J. Donato. “I am happy she chose to teach in Malden, and I know that she and her students will continue to accomplish remarkable things.”

The selection process for the 2021 Massachusetts Teacher of the Year began in fall 2019 with a call for nominations from administrators, teachers, students, parents and others. An initial review of each nominated teacher’s written application led to the selection of 12 semifinalists, who then submitted additional supporting material. Four finalists were selected and interviewed by a panel that included past Massachusetts Teachers of the Year. That panel then recommended one finalist to Commissioner Riley.

In lieu of an in-person celebration, this year, DESE plans to release a brief video featuring Ms. Hedrington, the finalists, semifinalists, the Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year, finalists and winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and the state’s most recent Milken Award winner.

“Ms. Hedrington is an asset to both Malden Public Schools and to the community,” said Malden Mayor Gary Christenson. “I’m grateful for all she has done for Malden students, and I’m thrilled to see her recognized in this way.”

“Ms. Hedrington is an outstanding educator who is a true leader of students and staff in Malden,” said Malden Superintendent John Oteri. “She leads from the classroom and gives her students a greater voice in school and in the community.”

“I once had the pleasure of teaching in the room beside Ms. Hedrington’s, and I learned quickly how good she was at making the classroom welcoming for all students,” said Ferryway School Principal Abdel Sepúlveda. “She teaches math, but this award recognizes her ability to go beyond that and inspire students for life.”

About Jennifer Hedrington

Jennifer Hedrington holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Atlantic Union College and a juris doctorate from the Massachusetts School of Law.

She measures her students’ achievement in how they apply their education outside the classroom. “Lasting education is one that changes you to then want to change the world,” she wrote in her application.

Ms. Hedrington, a native and resident of Lancaster, has taught in Malden and Revere, as well as in Houston, Texas and Baltimore, Md.

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Information on Housing Rights and Assistance for Massachusetts Residents

Have you received a notice to quit? Or are you worried about eviction? A notice to quit is the beginning of a legal process in which your landlord may seek the approval of the housing court to evict you. You have legal rights, options, and resources that you can access that may help you keep your housing. Please find below resources you may find helpful:

RAFT & other rental assistance 

  • This is the Mass.gov resource page for renters and homeowners 
  • Use this site by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to access local housing resources, including local housing authorities, regional housing agencies, and emergency shelter providers, by municipality. Select your community using the drop down at the top.
  • RAFT: The Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) Program is a homelessness prevention program funded by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). RAFT provides short-term financial assistance to low-income families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The program is administered through the Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs), which each cover one of nine regions of MA. You can only apply to the HCEC that covers the area where you will be living and using the RAFT benefit. You can find eligibility requirements and start applying here.
    • The HCEC for the 5th Middlesex District (Melrose, Malden, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester) is Metro Housing Boston. Their contact information is as follows: 
      • (617) 425-6700 – For Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance
      • (617) 859-0400 – Metro Housing Boston Main Number
      • (800) 272-0990 – MA only
      • Fax: (617) 532-7559
      • Email: resourceline@metrohousingboston.org
  • The Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) has more information and resources for help paying your rent or mortgage, finding shelter, childcare, legal aid, or other necessities. 
  • Housing Families is a charity in Malden that supports families through all stages of housing insecurity and homelessness, offering emergency shelter, affordable housing, pro bono legal services, case management, access to direct financial assistance, stabilization, after-school tutoring and counseling (for kids and adults), enrichment and summer opportunities for kids,  advocacy, and community trainings all under one roof! You can find more information and request services here

State Housing Court

Federal Eviction Moratorium (through 12/31/2020)

The Federal moratorium extends through the end of the year, but its protection is not automatic. Tenants must actively seek relief by filing a declaration with their landlord; you can find a sample declaration here.

To be eligible, you must meet the following criteria: 

  • You have used your “best efforts” to obtain government rental assistance; 
  • You do not expect to earn more than $99,000 in 2020 (or $198,000 if you are married and filed a joint tax return), or you did not need to report income to the federal government in 2019, or you received an Economic Impact Payment this year; 
  • You have been experiencing a “substantial” loss of household income because of a layoff or reduced work hours, or you have “extraordinary” out-of-pocket medical expenses (defined as an unreimbursed medical expense that exceeds 7.5% of your adjusted gross income for the year); 
  • You have been making your best effort to make partial rent payments as close to the full amount due as possible; and 
  • Being evicted would cause you to become homeless or you would have to move in with a friend or family member (live “doubled up”). 

An overview and FAQ on the moratorium (also available in Español) from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, complete with a sample declaration on the last page. You can also find this sample declaration translated into:

If you have further questions or need assistance, please contact Senator Lewis at Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov or (617) 722-1206. 

Last updated: 10/20/2020

Winchester Awarded State Grant for Shared Streets & Spaces

Winchester’s state delegation, Representative Michael S. Day, Senator Jason Lewis and Senator Patricia Jehlen, announced that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) recently selected Winchester as a recipient of funding under MassDOT’s Shared Streets and Spaces grant program. Shared Streets and Spaces is a quick-launch/quick-build grant program administered in response to the detrimental economic and community impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides funding for cities and towns to quickly implement or expand improvements to sidewalks, curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces and off-street parking lots that support public health, safe mobility and increased commerce.

Through this program, Winchester will receive $125,974.80 to provide traffic calming in the town center, reconstruct curb ramps on segments of the Tri-Community Greenway and create a two-way bike lane connecting to Winchester High School.

“This grant will support and enhance our community’s adjustments to new challenges posed by the pandemic, and will enable town government to implement safety and economic development measures that will benefit us all,” said Representative Michael Day. “This is another example of the state listening to the needs of our towns and responding quickly with the assistance requested and I applaud all parties for working cooperatively and making this program work for Winchester. This is very good and welcome news.”

“It is great that Winchester will be able to improve accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists with the Shared Streets grant,” said Senator Pat Jehlen. I hope it enables people to safely take socially-distanced walks and visit the shops and restaurants in Town Center that need our support more than ever.”

“Winchester’s Town Center is a vital hub of the community’s economic, social and civic life, and this important grant funding will allow the town to do even more to ensure safety, accessibility and usability for all residents and local businesses,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “This grant will help Winchester to create safe and accessible shared spaces that will benefits pedestrians, students, commuters and local merchants.”

Successful Shared Streets and Spaces projects must be implemented quickly, flexibly, at low cost, and without major roadway reconstruction. Grant recipients are also encouraged to consider how a successful project could eventually be made permanent.

Now that MassDOT has officially named Winchester as a grant recipient, town and state officials will work together to advance the projects included.

Malden Awarded State Grant for Shared Streets & Spaces

Malden’s legislative delegation and city leaders announced that the City of Malden was selected for the latest round of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Shared Streets and Spaces grant program. As a response to the economic and community impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shared Streets and Spaces quick-launch/quick-build grant program provides for cities and towns to quickly implement or expand improvements to sidewalks, curbs, streets, on-street parking spaces and off-street parking lots in support of public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce in their communities.

The City of Malden will receive $211,714.80 to create a dedicated bus lane to Malden Station, closing gaps between bicycle lanes and providing spaces along downtown streets to support additional outdoor dining and commerce.

“As the pandemic forces communities to think differently about our shared spaces, especially in our downtown commercial districts, we need to keep prioritizing safety, accessibility and convenience for all,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “This grant will help Malden to create safe and accessible shared spaces that will benefits pedestrians, commuters and local merchants.”

“I am pleased to see that Malden has received these needed funds to help reinvent Exchange Street so businesses, pedestrians and visitors to the area will be able to enjoy a much-improved experience,” said Representative Paul Donato. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Malden Delegation on projects such as this that will benefit our community.”

“Expanding access to mass transit and enhancing the quality of the mass transit experience has been one of my top goals, reflecting the priorities of our community,” said Representative Kate Lipper-Garabedian. “I am pleased that Malden’s efforts will be enhanced through this grant with the creation of a dedicated bus lane and will advocate for continued improvements to the Malden Station infrastructure.”

“Updating transportation infrastructure to address the needs of commuters of all modalities and support small businesses is key to Malden’s future” said Representative Steven Ultrino. “These funds from MassDOT will make our roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists, bus riders, and drivers, while also giving Malden’s local businesses the space they need to continue serving our community during this difficult time. I’m proud to have advocated for this funding to support a strong future for all here in Malden.”

Stephen Winslow, Malden City Councillor at Large commented for the City: “On behalf of Mayor Christenson and my fellow Councillors, we thank MassDOT for this opportunity. Prior to COVID-19, Malden residents relied heavily on bus and subway service to travel to work and school, and many still do. Our streets simply cannot handle the traffic that would result if everyone who took transit in Malden gets in a car. These projects support more socially-distanced travel options for Maldonians as we live through and emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and will also serve to demonstrate actions we can use post COVID-19 to travel safely and efficiently. The parklet on Pleasant Street will expand dining options in our Downtown which has and will be a critical engine in Malden’s future.”

Successful Shared Streets and Spaces projects are designed to be implemented quickly, flexibly, at low cost, and without major roadway reconstruction. Grant recipients are also encouraged to consider how a successful project could eventually be made permanent.

Now that the City of Malden has been named a grant recipient, city officials and MassDOT will work together to advance the project.

What Voters Need to Know Before the November 3 Election

With more options than ever available for you to cast your vote this fall, here’s all of the information you need in order to safely and conveniently vote!

Voting options for the November 3 General Election:

    1. Vote By Mail If you are a registered voter, expect to receive an application to vote with a mail-in ballot for the 2020 elections. Your town or city clerk will mail you a ballot after you submit a request. If you didn’t receive an application to vote by mail, you can contact your town or city clerk to request one. You can track the status of your ballot here.
    2. Early In-Person Voting From October 17 to October 30, votes can be cast in person at designated sites. To learn about your community’s early voting schedule, contact your town or city clerk.
    3. Election Day In-Person Voting Voters who did not participate in mail-in or early voting can vote in the traditional fashion on November 3 at their designated polling place.

Important dates to keep in mind:

  • Late September – Secretary of State mails Vote by Mail applications to all voters who have not already requested a November 3 mail-in ballot
  • Early October – Town and City Clerks begin mailing ballots to Vote by Mail voters
  • October 17, 2020 – Early In-Person Voting Begins
  • October 24, 2020 – Last Day to Register to Vote and Change Party Enrollment
  • October 28, 2020 – Deadline to submit a Vote by Mail or Absentee Ballot application for mailed ballot for election
  • October 30, 2020 – Early In-Person Voting Ends
  • November 3, 2020 – General Election

Visit the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s website or contact the Town and City Clerks of the Fifth Middlesex District to learn where and how you can vote:

  • Malden City Clerk Greg Lucey, Email or call (781) 397-7116
  • Melrose City Clerk Amy Kamosa, Email or call (781) 979-4113
  • Reading Town Clerk Laura Gemme, Contact or call (781) 942-6647
  • Stoneham Town Clerk Maria Sagarino, Contact or call (781) 279-2650
  • Wakefield Town Clerk Betsy Sheeran, Contact or call (781) 246-6383
  • Winchester Town Clerk MaryEllen Lannon, Email or call (781) 721-7130

If you have further questions about voting this fall, feel free to contact your local clerk or the office of State Senator Jason Lewis at Jason.Lewis@masenate.gov or (617) 722-1206.

 

Senate Passes Bill to Limit Use of Step Therapy

On July 30, with the support of Senator Jason Lewis, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation to limit the use of step therapy, or ‘fail-first’ protocols that too often direct patients to cheaper medications rather than those more suitable to treat their conditions. An Act relative to step therapy and patient safety gives doctors more discretion in determining the most effective treatment options for their patients, saving patients expensive and painful regimens on medications they know to be ineffective or even harmful.

This legislation builds on the state Senate’s ongoing commitment to creating a more affordable, accessible, and patient-centered health care system for everyone in the Commonwealth. Earlier this legislative session, the Senate passed legislation to contain rising prescription drug costs, increase access to affordable mental health services, and expand access to telehealth even after the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us.

“This legislation puts medical decisions where they belong: in the hands of patients and their doctors, instead of letting health insurers dictate treatment protocols” said Senator Jason Lewis. “Especially for people living with a variety of chronic illnesses, step therapy can be harmful to their health, and I’m very grateful to advocates like Sammantha Dorazio who have long pushed for this legislation.”

“Going through step therapy was a real-life nightmare,” said Sammantha Dorazio, Malden resident and arthritis patient advocate. “I cried tears of joy when I got the news that the step therapy bill passed. This is a huge win for the arthritis community.”

Step therapy serves as a cost-saving mechanism that can limit a patient’s ability to access the medication that is most suitable for treating their condition. Insurers that utilize step therapy protocols require medical providers to prescribe lower-cost medications to patients first, and only grant approval for alternative medications when the cheaper options have failed to improve a patient’s condition. In practice, this results in insurers effectively choosing medications for the patient, even in cases where their doctors have recommended an alternative. When patients change insurers, they are often forced to start at the beginning of the step therapy protocol again, which results in wasteful health care expenditures, lost time for patients, and potentially devastating health care impacts on the patient.

Step therapy is not limited to specific disease states. It affects patients across the healthcare spectrum, with particularly dramatic impacts on the Allergy and Asthma, Antipsychotic, Arthritis, Cancer, Coronary Artery, Depression, Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson’s patient communities.

The bill would establish guardrails to protect patients in circumstances in which following step therapy protocols are counterproductive or harmful. It would require MassHealth and private insurers to grant exemptions to step therapy protocols in cases where the protocol-required cost-effective drug is likely to cause harm, is expected to be ineffective, has been tried by the patient previously, is not in the best interest of the patient, or adopting it in concert with the patient’s existing medications would cause harm. Upon granting exemptions, MassHealth and private insurers would be required to provide coverage for the drug recommended by the patient’s provider.

If passed into law, Massachusetts would join 28 other states in curbing harmful step therapy practices. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

Sen. Lewis Supports Passage of Bills to Advance Women’s Health & Reduce Health Disparities

On July 30, 2020, the Massachusetts State Senate unanimously passed three bipartisan bills to increase birth options and safety for pregnant women in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. One bill establishes a commission to address racial inequities in maternal healthcare; another increases options for safe, professional birthing care by licensing midwifery; and the third bill creates a commission to study barriers to substance use treatment for women in the perinatal period.

“Black women in Massachusetts are twice as likely to die in childbirth as white women, and this unacceptable racial health disparity must be addressed,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “This package of bipartisan bills will advance women’s health and reduce health disparities.”

An Act to reduce racial disparities in maternal health establishes a special commission to address the continuing racial inequities in the Commonwealth’s maternal health outcomes, specifically in cases of maternal mortality and morbidity. Among the developed nations of the world, only the U.S. continues to allow people giving birth to die in increasing numbers, and the outcomes are staggeringly worse for people of color, who experienced a 238% increase in the risk of maternal death between 1978 and 2015.

The commission will bring together diverse perspectives on maternal health and racial health disparities and will include public health experts, physicians, midwives, a doula, and individuals with first-hand experience with health disparities, including a survivor of maternal morbidity. The bill requires that a majority of commission members represent Massachusetts communities most impacted by maternal health inequity, which statistically have been black and brown communities. The commission must submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any draft legislation necessary to achieve the recommendations of the commission, within one year of its creation.

An Act relative to out-of-hospital birth access and safety creates a licensure process for certified professional midwives who provide home birth services, which are less expensive than hospital-based birth and associated with healthy birth outcomes, including lower rates of Caesarean section and fewer postpartum complications. This credentialing process will standardize midwifery training and qualifications, provide consumers with transparent information when seeking a home birth, and facilitate the hospital transfer process in the event of labor complications.

An Act relative to improving access to treatment for individuals with perinatal substance use disorder creates a special commission to study the barriers to substance use treatment for women in the perinatal period. This commission will bring together the Department of Mental Health (DMH), the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Department of Children and Families (DCF), MassHealth, the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, and private partners with expertise in maternal mental health and substance use treatment to ensure all pregnant and postpartum women with substance use disorder have access to the care they need.

These three maternal health bills now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Sen. Lewis and Rep. Day Announce Completion of New Stone Zoo Bus Stop

State Senator Jason Lewis and State Representative Michael Day are pleased to announce the completion of construction of a new bus stop at Stone Zoo on Pond Street for the MBTA 132 bus route.

The 132 Bus, which begins at Redstone Shopping Plaza and extends to the Oak Grove and Malden Center MBTA stations, is a major public transit route for Stoneham commuters, workers, families, and other residents. Senator Lewis and Representative Day, along with Stoneham officials, residents, and Zoo New England (which operates the Stone Zoo), have advocated for years for the addition of this bus stop to the 132 Bus route. The new bus stop will make popular recreational destinations, including the Stone Zoo, Greenwood Park, and the Middlesex Fells Reservation, more accessible to families from Stoneham and neighboring towns.

“I’m excited that the long-discussed Stone Zoo bus stop has finally been completed and will now provide greater access to the Zoo and other recreational opportunities for families from Stoneham and throughout the region,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “This project has been very challenging and I’m grateful for the collaboration, hard work, and persistence of the MBTA, DCR, Town of Stoneham, Stoneham Transportation Advisory Committee, Zoo New England, and Rep. Day that it took to get this done.”

“This new bus stop will further enhance access to this jewel of our community, bringing the Zoo, Spot Pond, Greenwood Park and the natural attractions of the Fells much closer to our families,” said Representative Michael Day.  “This was a true team effort, requiring collaboration from state agencies, our legislative team, town officials, Zoo New England staff and Stoneham citizen advocacy groups to make this a reality.  I look forward to the addition of this new stop into the official bus route in the near future and future collaborations to continue to improve the lives of our residents.”

“It’s so important that the Stone Zoo and Greenwood Park will finally be accessible through public transportation, a service relied on by so many residents of Stoneham and the entire region,” said Raymie Parker, Chair of the Stoneham Select Board and a member of the Stoneham Transportation Advisory Committee (STAC). “Along with many others, I am particularly grateful to Senator Lewis and Representative Day for their assistance and support in championing this project.”

“We are grateful for all the support in making this bus stop at Stone Zoo a reality,” said Cynthia Mead, Executive Vice President for Zoo New England. “Public transportation to Stone Zoo is critically aligned to our mission of conservation and removing barriers that might prevent more people visiting the Zoo.”

The MBTA is expected to add the new bus stop into the official 132 bus schedule with the next bus route schedule update, anticipated as early as this fall.

Malden Legislators Announce Completion of Safety Improvements to Notorious Fellsway-Highland Intersection

On Friday, August 7, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) activated the traffic signal at the newly completed intersection at Fellsway East and Highland Avenue in the City of Malden. Malden’s legislative delegation and local leaders heralded the completion of the major safety improvements at the intersection.

This intersection improvement project will have several benefits for the community, including:

  • Improved safety for all users within the intersection
  • Narrower roadway widths to reduce vehicle speeds
  • Six pedestrian crosswalks, all controlled by WALK signs
  • Curb extensions to reduce the lengths of crosswalks
  • New bike lanes on Fellsway East northbound.

“For years, neighborhood advocates, city leaders and state officials have been united in their calls to fix the treacherous Fellsway-Highland intersection, and after careful planning, diligent follow-up and hard work from all stakeholders, this long-overdue safety and traffic improvement is complete,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “I’m grateful to Mayor Christenson, the Malden City Council and Department of Public Works, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and my colleagues in Malden’s legislative delegation for their collaboration and partnership as we all worked together over the last five years to fix Fellsway-Highland and make it safe for motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and all users.”

“It is great to finally see the completion of this important project that is the culmination of a lot of hard work and input from community and civic leaders,” said Representative Paul Donato. “As someone who lives in the area and travels it frequently, I look forward to a safer experience for all who drive, bicycle, or walk through this busy intersection.”

The intersection of Fellsway East and Highland Avenue, along a heavily traveled corridor used by commuters and local traffic, was notorious for its operational and safety issues and high number of crashes.   In the past, this intersection was ranked number 77 on the 2006-2008 Statewide Top 200 Intersections Crash List.

In 2015, the Malden legislative delegation brought together the DCR and the City of Malden to fund a $30,000 traffic study for this intersection. Because the Fellsway is a state road administered by DCR and Highland Avenue is a city road, state and city officials cooperated closely on the planning and implementation of the improvements to the notorious Ward 3 intersection.

“Street safety for all modalities has always been a priority in my career on the Melrose City Council and now as State Representative,” said Representative Kate Lipper-Garabedian.  “This state-local partnership results in critical improvements at a highly trafficked intersection, and I am grateful for all the work and effort that made this project successful.”

“We heard loud and clear from community members that this intersection needed a change,” said Representative Steve Ultrino of the Fellsway-Highland improvements. “I’m proud of the way our delegation came together to hear those concerns and take action to make this intersection safe for drivers, bikers and pedestrians.”

After the conclusion of the study and public comments from Malden residents, DCR began the safety improvements at the intersection in 2019. Improvements included traffic signals, crosswalks with ADA compliant wheelchair ramps; bike lanes; and reconfigured intersection geometry to improve safety for pedestrians and motorists. As part of the state budget for Fiscal Year 2019, Malden legislators secured $100,000 in state funding for the project by passing a budget amendment filed by Senator Lewis. Later, legislators won an additional $200,000 for this project as part of a Fiscal Year 2020 supplemental state budget bill.

“I could not be more pleased with the outcome of this long-awaited improvement to an intersection that has been a safety risk for our residents,” said Mayor Gary Christenson. “City Councillors-At-Large Craig Spadafora and Debbie DeMaria along with the neighborhood, our partners in the State delegation and DCR made solving this challenge possible, and I’m appreciative of the proactive approach they took in making this happen.”

“On behalf of the entire West End neighborhood, we are so grateful for the safety enhancements now completed at Fellsway East and Highland Avenue. This intersection has been a top concern of neighbors for many years, and it’s a tremendous relief knowing that people who are walking, biking, driving, or who have accessibility needs now have an equal ability to navigate this area safely,” said Amanda Linehan, Ward 3 City Councillor in Malden. “I am tremendously thankful for the excellent communication among DCR and the City of Malden during construction, and especially to Senator Lewis for helping to secure funding for this project in these challenging economic times.”

Mass. Legislature Passes Breakfast After the Bell Legislation to Fight Childhood Hunger

On July 27, the Massachusetts Legislature gave final approval to legislation to fight childhood hunger and boost participation rates in school breakfast programs in schools with high percentages of students from low-income families in the Commonwealth. The bill, An Act regarding breakfast after the bell, would require all public K-12 schools with 60 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federal National School Lunch Program to offer breakfast after the instructional day begins.

Massachusetts currently requires all schools with high percentages of students from low-income families to provide breakfast to every eligible student. However, because breakfast is typically offered before the bell and in the cafeteria, participation levels are low—less than 40 percent—compared to 80-90 percent participation for free and reduced lunch. Moving breakfast from before the bell to after the bell is a proven strategy to boost breakfast participation and ensure that all students have the nutrition they need to start their day ready to learn.

“We all understand that a hungry student is not ready to be a successful student, and Breakfast After the Bell is a proven strategy to close the hunger gap and ensure that all kids can start their school day on a level playing field,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education and a longtime advocate for the legislation. “As the Commonwealth continues to strive for an excellent and equitable educational experience for every child, regardless of their ZIP code or family income, this is an important step along the road to closing opportunity and achievement gaps in our schools.”

This legislation would require schools across Massachusetts serving large numbers of low-income students to offer breakfast after the start of the instructional day. They can select from a variety of delivery models, including breakfast in the classroom, grab-and-go, and second-chance breakfast. This flexibility allows school districts to select the model that best fits their students’ needs.

As a federally reimbursed program, Breakfast After the Bell has the potential to provide up to $25 million statewide to Massachusetts school districts that increase participation rates to 80 percent and above. These payments are made directly to school nutrition departments, helping to support jobs, update kitchen equipment, and provide healthier menu options.

Governor Baker signed the bill into law on August 4, 2020.