This Budget Debate is Priceless
By Josh Resnek
The debate about school department spending in this city by the city council and the mayor defies logic.
Mind you, there is nothing wrong with the mayor and the city council questioning school department spending.
What is wrong is questioning how to cut school spending. School spending cannot be cut.
Running the city’s schools is an expensive proposition from year to year.
Far more expensive and imperative is keeping up an espirit de corps, so all the troops working for the kids believe that this is something to live for and to devote ones life to.
You can put a price tag on public school education.
We do this every time we discuss school department spending. The public schools in Everett are all spit and polish, all business all the time, all attention paid to thousands of students with incredible needs and wants everyday, all week, all year, every year.
If everyone in all of Everett’s public schools spoke English and could read and write in English and came from well to do homes with no money worries or came from homes without drug and or violence issues, well, then Everett could be like Wellesley.
But Everett is not Wellesley.
Most of our students need the solidity and the safety and the order that one finds alive in all our public schools.
For them, there is nothing else but chaos. The school population has needs that defy spending cuts.
It cannot reasonably or unreasonably be argued that cutting the school department budget imperils the well being of the greater community.
Investigating school spending is not the same as finding a water leak and plugging it, or teaching residents how to conserve on electricity use and shutting off lights or not using air conditioners when its hot.
All things related to educating Everett’s 9000 public school students are expensive and growing more expensive every day.
There is no way around the soaring expenses. It is the nature of the animal, so to speak.
The millions and millions spent on the city’s parks are an extraordinary example of how government can spend millions and improve the parks while at the same time denying to itself that the schools need more money to maintain their pre-eminence here.
Parks are a wonderful advantage for everyone living in this city.
Parks, however, don’t compare to the advantages given to kids transiting our public schools.
There is no comparison – and yet there are millions spent on parks while the schools are put in peril every budget time.
The mayor gets this but can’t get out of the ego thing that goes on between him and Superintendent of Schools Fred Foresteire.
These two clash all the time while maintaining to one another in public they are great friends.
Great friends don’t try to slash one another.
Theirs is one of those inexplicable relationships that pits the kids education here between the ongoing ego battle with Foresteire and the mayor.
The mayor needs very badly to always be the boss with his troops at city hall. He doesn’t want or accept anyone being out of line, which means not doing exactly as the mayor wants.
He would love to get rid of Foresteire and somehow take over control of the all the jobs that are given out at the school department to truly rule the city.
Foresteire is a roadblock to the mayor’s ultimate political desires – and so – they battle always about spending and the budget.
As long as the city council fails to grasp what is at risk here with funding the the public schools, there will be the kind of foolishness everyone witnessed at the hearing last week.
Talk of cutting all day care for the youngest kids in the public schools by our elected public officials ridicules the notion they have any understanding of what goes on inside the public schools and what this means for the city’s present as well as its future.
The public schools shine. They are a gem. If you don’t think so, take a look around.
If you think having no families here is a solution to the spending problem, well, you are mad.
If you try to make public policy out of the belief you can somehow stop families from wanting their children to be educated here – or to suggest, as the mayor did at the meeting, that the crush of students is due to families taking rooms in apartments to establish residency, well then, we should all give up. Keeping up the public schools is a ball and chain task.
Take the money away from the public schools, and there is nothing.
And in the words of Shakespeare: “Nothing can be made from nothing.”