City Urged to Distribute Chapter 70 Money to EPS

Mayor Refusing to Hand Over $2.5 Million intended For Students

By Josh Resnek

Senator Sal DiDomenico ordered the city government to immediately transfer $2.5 million he raised through his efforts on the Senate floor to bring stability to the Everett Public Schools before a packed house that filled the School Committee chamber at Everett High School Monday night.

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Senator DiDomenico

The main agenda item, the only agenda item that mattered, was discussing the swirling debate about whether or not the mayor and the city government will hand over $2.5 million raised by Senator DiDomenico for the exclusive use of the Everett Public Schools.

Classroom size has exploded because of layoffs of 100 teachers and aids before school began this year. School officials revealed that classroom size is in the 30+ range – a situation where the education of children disintegrates in public schools.

The Chapter 70 money was earmarked for the city after the Massachusetts state government approved the added funding for struggling urban cities like Everett.

However, because the $2.5 million went into the General Fund at city hall, the mayor has determined these are funds he can do with as he pleases.

He and his Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas are withholding the money from the city, talking endlessly again that the bond rating is more important than classroom size and the education of Everett children.

“I want this resolved. Let’s get teachers back in the classrooms. I am asking the city council to stand up and to be heard,” said DiDomenico. He received a hearty round of applause when he finished speaking.

Superintendent of Schools Frederick Foresteire was not quite as circumspect as the senator.

“If the city is broke, then tell us. If the city has plenty of money, then we want what is coming to us. We want our fair share,” the superintendent said.

“I’m asking the city council to step up to the plate,” he added. Senator DiDomenico, who led the fight for the $2.5 million told the assemblage that if the city government doesn’t transfer the funds to the School Department from the general account, there will be hell to pay the next time around. “The money is needed. It should be put into our schools. The future of all additional school funding for this city is at stake,” he added.

How can I ever go back to my colleagues in the Senate and ask them for additional funding for our schools if the city isn’t going to use it?” he wondered aloud.

DiDomenico spoke with some passion during a meeting that was conducted with precision and professionalism – two factors typically present at School Committee meetings.

School Committee members who spoke, and those who didn’t speak, all made the same plea to the crowd, to one another, and to the mayor and the city government before and after the meeting.

Committeeman Marcony Alemida-Barros said Everett should do with the money what other cities are doing with theirs.

“Chelsea is using their funds to rehire teachers. We should do the same. Class size is at risk in Everett. We need to take teachers back to reduce class size,” he said.

School Committeeman Frank Parker said the situation was untenable.

‘We need stability,” he said.

School Committeeman Lester McLaughlin echoed his colleague’s comments.

“Chapter 70 money is for the schools,” he said.

School Committeeman Tom Abruzzese said without this funding it will be “tougher for everyone.”

DiDomenico’s comments were especially prescient. He has children at the Keverian School. He said he has seen first hand the upward expansion of classroom size.

“This money was secured for our schools. Classroom size needs to be reduced. My kids go to school here. I can see what’s happening,” he added.

He explained that rich communities don’t want the state’s school funding formula to change because it is advantageous to higher income communities.

He said cities like Everett need the formula to change in order to bridge the gap in school funding.

“This is Chapter 70 money,” he repeatedly said of the $2.5 million the mayor is refusing to hand over. “This money should be going back to our schools.”

Assistant Superintendents Charlie Obremski and Kevin Shaw delivered video studies of school spending indicating that it is not the Everett Public Schools causing the city’s money woes.

 

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