Search Results for: charter school study

Charter School Study Materials, 2016-17

During 2016-17, the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts (LWVMA) conducted a study of charter schools.  At the April 2017 LWVMA Convention, our membership approved a position on charter schools.

The materials used in the LWVMA charter school study follow. They include information on how charter schools work and how they are funded, as well as the consensus questions that were considered by local Leagues.

Please note that this study and these materials were not related to the November 8, 2016 ballot question on charter schools in any way. The League did not take a stand on that ballot question precisely because we did not have a position on charter schools.

Consensus Study Materials

Introduction (2 pages)
Fundamentals (22 pages)
Funding (10 pages)
Questions (11 pages)
Response form (8 pages)
Glossary (2 pages)
Additional Reading (1 page)

Charter School Study Tools

Introduction to the LWVMA Study on Charter Schools

LWV Needham Background on Charter Schools Consolidated


22 Attendees at the LWV Northampton Charter School Consensus Study Meeting!



Join the Ballot Question Process Study

The just-finished election included three ballot questions that left voters scratching their heads!  And that points to the need for our current ballot question process study.

For Question 1 on nurses staffing, many said they did not know why or how voters should be expected to decide this issue.  This question may break the record for the most expensive ballot question, set in 2016 by the charter school question at $44 million. Question 1 is currently at $38 million, with the final expenses yet to be reported.

For Question 2 on a commission to consider constitutional amendments, we heard “Now what is this going to do?”

And for Question 3 on transgender rights, the first referendum on an existing law to come before us in decades, we heard, “Why are we voting on this?”

All three questions met the legal requirements to get on the ballot. But are we happy with this process, developed 100 years ago? Can and should LWVMA advocate for change? LWVMA has no positions on the ballot question process, and yet it is major part of our state elections and our voter service/citizen education efforts.  Read more

The State Ballot Question Study Committee dug deep into the process in Massachusetts and around the country, and the study is now in the hands of local Leagues to educate their members and reach consensus. The materials are posted on the study webpage.

LWVMA is pleased that 32 of our 48 Leagues and Units have informed us that they are participating. Although that is a great response, we think all our members would be interested in this topic and want to make sure they all have an opportunity.  The Study Committee is reaching out to each League that has not yet agreed to participate.

If your League has not done so already, please email with the email address of the contact person or persons. We will be distributing materials, etc., to the contacts and don’t want anyone to miss out. We would also like the date and location of your consensus meeting(s) when known.  If your League cannot participate, please let us know that too. We will make every effort to find a way for interested members to participate, either through a League in the region or perhaps a webinar.

Recent Studies and Updates to Positions

The League of Women Voters of Massachusetts periodically engages in a study process to develop or update a League position on a particular issue.  Guidelines for LWVMA Studies can be found here.

LWVMA Studies

Ballot Question Study (2017-19)

Charter School Study (2015-2017)

LWVUS Studies

LWVUS Constitutional Amendment Study (2015-16)

Money and Politics Review and Update (2015-16)

LWVMA Council on April 30 at Clark University

The 2016 LWVMA Council “Massachusetts Voter Engagement (MOVE) 2016: Join the Movement!” was held Saturday, April 30, 2016 at Clark University in Worcester. Council this year focused on voter engagement during the 2016 election cycle and featured:

      • A kick off of LWVMA’s voter engagement campaign, MOVE 2016 (Massachusetts Voter Engagement 2016;
      •  A panel discussion, “The Massachusetts Electorate: Who’s Not Participating and What Will It Take to Reach Them?” with:
        • Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Director, CIRCLE (The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement), Tufts University, a research center that focuses on young people in the United States, especially those who are marginalized or disadvantaged in political life.
        • Eva Millona, Executive Director, MIRA (Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition),  the state’s largest organization representing the foreign born, and co-chair of the National Partnership for New Americans, the lead national organization focusing on immigrant integration.
        • Nathaniel Stinnett, Founder and CEO, Environmental Voter Project, a non-partisan non profit using data analytics and behavioral science to identify and mobilize non-voting environmentalists.
      • Two workshops:  From Climate Talk to Climate Action and Charter Schools in Massachusetts

MOVE 2016 Information

MOVE 2016 slides
MOVE 2016 summary
Massachusetts Election Reforms and Call to Action

Workshop Presentations and Handouts (coming soon)

Charter Schools in Massachusetts: presentation by the Charter School Study Committee
From Climate Talk to Climate Action

Local Leagues Donate to LWVMA

LWVMA is grateful to the local Leagues who made donations to the LWVMA at Council 2016: Amherst, Cape Cod Area, Concord-Carlisle, Hamilton-Wenham, Needham, Newton, Northampton Area, Plymouth Area, Shrewsbury, Topsfield-Boxford-Middleton, Wellesley, and Winchester.

Our Team

LWVMA Board of Directors 2019-2021

Mary Ann Ashton

Co-President | | Local League: Acton Area

Mary Ann Ashton has served on the LWVMA Board and as a Trustee of the Lotte E. Scharfman Fund for the last four years.  Before becoming Co-President in 2017, she served as Voter Services chair where she worked with staff on statewide implementation of an electronic voter guide. Read more…

Judy Zaunbrecher

Co-President | | Local League: Concord

Judy has been a member of the League of Women Voters of Concord-Carlisle since 2015 and serves on its Board and as the Voter Service Chair. She has been a LWVMA Board member since 2017, currently serving as LWVMA Voter Service Co-Chair as well as Co-Chair of the LWVMA 100th Anniversary Committee. Read more…

Kathy Leonardson

1st Vice President | | Local League: Marblehead

Kathy has been a member of the Marblehead League of Women Voters since 1995, serving as co-president, newsletter editor, publicity chair, and on voter service. At the state League level, she was co-chair of the Fiscal Policy Update Study (2005-08) and a member of the State Study Committee on Special Education (1998-2000). Kathy served on the Town of Marblehead’s 350th Anniversary Committee (1998-99), Finance Committee (2005-10), and School Committee (2010-2016), as Chair (2013-16). Read more…

Leanore (Lee) Bona

2nd Vice President | | Local League: Worcester

Lee currently serves as Second V.P. on the LWVMA Board, a trustee of the Lotte E. Scharfman Fund, a member of the Budget and Finance Committees, and on the State Nominating Committee (past Chair). She strongly supports local leadership and program development and enjoys reporting for the Board at Field Service and League Leader meetings. She sees the State’s task as moving us forward together into our second century – visible, viable and relevant. Read more…

Andrea Kozinetz

Treasurer | | Local League: Newton

Andrea Kozinetz is completing six years as the LWVMA and LESF treasurer (2013-2019).  She is a long time Board member of the League of Women Voters of Newton and is currently LWVN’s treasurer. She was appointed to the LWVMA Board and as a LESF trustee in 2012 and has been a member of the state League’s budget, development, finance, governance and nominating committees.  Read more…

Kate Boland

Director | | Local League: Hingham

Kate Boland joined the League of Women Voters of Hingham in 2006. Her involvement in her League has allowed her to contribute to the LWVH Open Town Meeting Study, Plymouth County Charter Study, hold positions on the Green Committee, and act as the League liaison to the town’s schools. Kate was LWVH President/Chair for six years and Membership Chair for eight. Read more…

Nancy Brumback

Director | | Local League: Sudbury

Nancy Brumback was first elected an LWVMA Director in 2011.  She is currently Co-Chair for Program and Action and she chairs the Legislative Action Committee, overseeing LWVMA’s activity at the State House. Nancy edits the three LWVMA newsletters to members and has served on numerous League committees. Read more…

Hartell Johnson

Director | | Local League: Greater Haverhill

Hartell Johnson is a former Vice President and current member of the League of Women Voters, Greater Haverhill.   She has over 25 years of Technical Support and 15 years of community engagement experience. Hartell was a 2017 Haverhill City Council candidate advocating for better educational opportunities for students, improved economic development in Haverhill and for a safer community. Read more…

Elizabeth Foster-Nolan

Director | | Member-at-Large

Elizabeth joined the Weymouth LWV in 2010 and became a Member-at-Large when Weymouth disbanded.  She trained as a moderator for local and Congressional candidate nights because of her interest in providing clear unbiased information for voters. .  Elizabeth believes an informed voter will be an active participant in government and is a key to transparency and increased voter participation. Read more…

Tanya Roy

Director | | Local League: Wellesley

Tanya Roy is involved with LWVMA as a Legislative Specialist and is a board member and Legislative Envoy for LWV of Wellesley.   She also serves on the board of the Fund for Wellesley and tutors through the Wellesley ESL program. Tanya has extensive experience in investment management, based on a thirty year career with Fidelity Investments. Read more…

Amy Smith

Director | | Local League: Topsfield-Boxford-Middleton

Amy Smith joined the League of Women Voters of Topsfield/Boxford/Middleton in 2015, and serves on the Board of Directors.  She manages social media and the website for the TBM League. She is a member of the LWVMA Legislative Envoy program, the LWVMA Membership and Environmental Steering committees, and is a Field Service representative for the Merrimack Valley/North Shore region. Read more…


Patricia Comfort

Executive Director|

Pattye joined LWVMA in November of 2019. She comes to LWVMA after seven years as Executive Director of the Women’s Bar Association and the Women’s Bar Foundation of Massachusetts. Pattye began her legal career as in-house counsel to the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) where, among other things, she was responsible for maintaining First Amendment access for the PIRGs political canvassers throughout the U.S. She also worked at the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation as the Director of the Equal Justice Coalition, building support among the private bar for access to justice through increased funding for civil legal aid programs in Massachusetts. She is an experienced community organizer having worked with tenants in Boston’s public housing developments as well as with low-income tenants in Lowell. Pattye is a graduate of Boston College and Northeastern University School of Law.

Brynne Gorman

Membership and Community Engagement Manager |

Brynne Gorman joined LWVMA in April of 2014. Prior to joining LWVMA Brynne served in Data Governance at Covidien. Previously, Brynne managed the office of Business Network International and interned on a congressional campaign in the 2012 election. Brynne holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Taylor Grenga

Administrative and Program Associate |

Taylor Grenga joined LWVMA in June of 2018. Prior to joining LWVMA, she attended Northeastern University and held internship positions at Planned Parenthood, Health Care For All, the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project, and WilmerHale. Taylor holds a B.S. in Political Science.

Martha Maguire

Bookkeeper |

LWVMA Legislative Specialists

Legislative Action Chair | Nancy Brumback
Affordable Housing, Basic Human Needs| Clare Gordon
Agriculture, Casino Gambling | Louise Haldeman
Children and Family Issues | Palma McLaughlin
Criminal Justice and Courts | Colleen Kirby
Education (Finance) | Mary Frantz
Education (Higher Education) | Susan Loffredo
Education (Policy) | Karen Mazza
Elder Affairs | Pat Costello
Elections and Voting | Linda Freedman
Environment: Climate Change and Energy | Launa Zimmaro
Environment: Natural Resources |Loring Schwarz, Carolyn Lee
Fiscal Policy | June Michaels
Good Governance | Carolyn Lee
Gun Control | Jennifer Muroff, Sue McCalley
Health Care | Janice Goodell
Immigration | Jennifer Muroff
Transportation| Tanya Roy, Lois Levin
Water Resources | Carolyn Lee
Women’s Issues | Tracy Brown

To reach any of the legislative specialists, email

Kate Boland

Director| | Local League: Hingham

Kate Boland joined the League of Women Voters of Hingham in 2006. Her involvement in her League has allowed her to contribute to the LWVH Open Town Meeting Study, Plymouth County Charter Study, hold positions on the Green Committee, and act as the League liaison to the town’s schools. Kate was LWVH President/Chair for six years and Membership Chair for eight. She has retained a LWVMA Director position responsible for Membership since 2017 and also chairs the LWVMA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. She started her professional career as a teacher in Detroit then worked in publishing in the business press. An active member of her Hingham community, Kate has served on or assisted multiple community committees and volunteers with the Farmers Market SNAP program.

2017 Convention Roundup

Delegates and observers from local Leagues across Massachusetts shared the experience of Convention 2017, “The Future of Democracy: Facing the Challenges,” with thoughtful discussion of the future of the League and how to best serve all of our new members and the greater community, a look into the thinking of the youngest members of the legislature, speakers on the role of newspapers and the state of democracy, and a glimpse into the changes coming to the League from the national level on down.

We are pleased that Mary Ann Ashton of the Acton Area League and Linda O’Connell of the Springfield unit of the Northampton League will be LWVMA co-presidents for 2017-2019.

The convention also conducted the League’s business, electing officers and a new board, approving a two-year state study on the ballot question process, defining our action priorities and action items for the next two years, and approving a new position on charter schools.

To read more on each of these topics, please click on the links below:

New officers and board

New state study

2017-2019 Action Priorities and Action Items

Charter school position

Focus groups on the changing League

Convention speaker reports

Volunteer sheet


LWVMA in the News 2016

LWVMA and local Leagues highlighted in the news around the state this year













LWVMA Positions on Ballot Questions

There will be four questions on the statewide ballot Nov. 8. LWVMA is taking a stand on only one of them, opposing the additional slot parlor.  The League does not have positions on the issues in the other three ballot questions, on charter school expansion, farm animal containment practices and legalization of marijuana.

Our decisions on these questions are based on policy positions taken after study of issues at the state and national levels and consensus by League members.

Here are the questions, in the order they will appear on the ballot, and the League’s stand on each.

 Question 1: Expanded Gaming Initiative: 

This proposed law would allow the state Gaming Commission to issue one additional category 2 license, which would permit operation of a gaming establishment with no table games and not more than 1,250 slot machines.  The League has a position in opposition to legalized casino gambling and urges a NO vote on this question.

 Question 2: Increase Access to Public Charter Schools

This proposed law would allow the state to approve up to 12 new charter schools or enrollment expansions in existing charter schools each year.  Approvals under this law could expand statewide charter school enrollment by up to 1% of the total statewide public school enrollment each year.  New charters and enrollment expansions would be exempt from existing limits on the number of charter schools, the number of students enrolled in them, and the amount of local school districts’ spending allocated to them. The League does not have a position on charter schools and therefore does not take a stand on this question.

 Question 3: Farm Animal Containment

This proposed law would prohibit any farm from confining any breeding pig, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen in a way that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely.  The proposed law would prohibit the sale in Massachusetts of whole eggs or uncooked veal or pork if the hen, pig, or calf was confined in a manner prohibited by the proposed law.  The LWVUS agriculture position does not apply to this question. LWVMA does not take a stand on this question.

 Question 4: Marijuana Legalization

 The proposed law would permit the possession, use, distribution, and cultivation of marijuana in limited amounts by persons age 21 and older and would remove criminal penalties for such activities.  It would provide for the regulation of commerce in marijuana, marijuana accessories, and marijuana products and for the taxation of proceeds from sales of these items. The League does not have a position on legalization of marijuana and therefore does not take a stand on this question.


Report from LWVMA’s May Convention

Members of Leagues around the state, gathered in West Springfield for the 2015 LWVMA Convention, elected Anne Borg of the Newton League and Jean Cherdack of the Northampton Area League as co-presidents of the state League for the next two years. Anne has been co-president and Jean has been a director for the past two years.

The Convention also approved a two-year state study of charter schools with the aim of developing a position on this subject to be presented to the 2017 Convention. As action items for the coming two years, the Convention approved a strong voter registration, information and education program centered on the 2016 election; development of an action plan on civic education and engagement; and extension of a committee to review and report on election-related technology.

Other officers elected are Marlene O’Brien of Wellesley, first vice president; Dee Ortner of Concord-Carlisle, second vice president; Shelley Drowns of Waltham, secretary; and Andrea Kozinetz of Newton, treasurer.  Karen Price of Needham, elected as third vice president, later decided not to serve on the board.

Elected as LWVMA directors were Mary Ann Ashton of Acton Area, Roslyn Broch of Williamstown, Nancy Brumback of Sudbury, Melisa Hollenback of Shrewsbury, Carole Pelchat of Greater Haverill, Terry Yoffie of Newton, and Launa Zimmaro of Concord-Carlisle.  In June, the board appointed Marilyn Peterson of Acton Area as an additional director.

Lee Bona of the Worcester Area League was elected chair of the nominating committee, and the off-board members of that committee are Sandra Daly of Grafton and Lynn Wolbarst of Sharon-Stoughton.

Jo-Ann Berry of Acton Area received the Above and Beyond Award for her voter service and moderator work, and Karen Price of Needham received the 110% Award for her work on the board in membership and many other areas.

LWVMA action priorities for the biennium will be improving elections and voter turnout; civic education and engagement; money and politics; climate change and the environment; and addressing income inequality.

LWVMA received generous donations totaling $4,150 from 14 local Leagues at the Convention:  Acton Area, Amherst, Cape Cod Area, Concord-Carlisle, Hamilton-Wenham, Harvard, Lexington, Needham, Newton, Northampton Area, Plymouth Area, Sudbury, Topsfield-Boxford-Middleton, and Wellesley.

The Convention welcomed members of the newly-formed Springfield unit of the Northampton Area League, who are working actively in voter activities in Springfield and who hope to eventually form an independent League in that city.

Rosalee Keech, an LWVUS director and the LWVUS Observer to the United Nations, detailed her experiences in both those areas as the Friday evening speaker. Elizabeth Barajas-Román, CEO of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, was Saturday’s speaker. Ms. Barajas-Román works to fund programs improving the lives of girls and women in that region, and she discussed that work and how the League might help.

Additional information on the Convention, including photographs and materials from many of the workshops, is available on our website.