By John Anderson
On Tuesday morning, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito was in town to sign a Community Compact Agreement with Auburn. In the Selectmen’s room, members of the Select Board, School Committee and Housing Authority shared the stage with Polito while Town Manager Julie Jacobson, CFO Ed Kazanovicz, Department Heads, and town employees sat in the audience.
The Community Compact is a voluntary, mutual agreement between the Baker-Polito Administration and individual cities and towns of the Commonwealth. By entering a Community Compact, a community agrees to implement self-selected best practices over a two-year period. As part of this partnership, the Commonwealth agrees to fulfill a set of commitments and works to provide assistance for a community based on their chosen best practice.
Through its Compact, Auburn has chosen to work with the Commonwealth toward implementing the following best practices:
Housing: Best Practice – There is a documented community-supported housing plan that accounts for changing demographics, including young families, workforce dynamics, and an aging population.
The Town needs to initiate and develop a community-based housing plan that identifies and inventories current housing stock, assesses and analyzes the need for additional housing units, and creates a strategy to address those needs.
Job Creation and Retention: Best Practice – There is a documented economic development plan which leverages local economic sector strengths, regional assets, encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, and demonstrates collaboration with educational institutions for the development of a workforce plan.
The Town seeks to develop a sustainable economic development plan that identifies opportunities for growth of our economic base, enhances business retention activities, encourages new business development, and facilitates business expansion in and relocation to the Town.
Coordination and Collaboration – Early Education: Best Practice: There is evidence of partnerships with private providers in the provision of high quality, early education and out of school time services to leverage existing resources, avoid duplication of services and enhance and streamline systems for children and families. The community can demonstrate local adoption of a framework to organize, align and integrate community efforts in early education and care, out of school time services, and family engagement.
The intention of Auburn’s involvement in this best practice is to ensure that all students begin their formal schooling as kindergarteners on a solid foundation created by high-quality preschool programming.
The model created through this collaboration could be replicated across the Commonwealth as the challenge faced by the Auburn Public Schools of meeting the educational needs of all of its children in the ages 3 through 5 bracket – due to financial and space limitations – is a reality shared by districts both near and far. Perhaps then, all preschool-age children benefitting from a high-quality program can, in fact, become a reality.
Representative Paul Frost spoke at the gathering and emphasized that all citizens benefit from Local Aid. He further stated that Baker and Polito were both selectmen in their communities before advancing to state politics, and they understand what communities are going through. Polito later added that all new revenue growth in the state will be going back to cities and towns as Local Aid.
The Lt. Governor said Auburn is the 141st community to enter into a community compact and the Commonwealth is committed to providing monetary and technical assistance. Additionally, cities and towns in this program receive higher consideration for statewide grants.