By Josh Resnek
The City Council has sent the public school’s request for $2.5 million in educational funding intended for it, but withheld by the mayor, for a decision to be made by the School Finance Commission at its November 1 meeting.
The motion, which was easily passed, came on the heels of a private consultation between the mayor and Councilor John Hanlon.
Hanlon told his colleagues that the School Finance Commission, comprised of several councilors, school committee members, school and public officials, was better suited to discuss and rule on the matter than the council’s Committee of the Whole, which was scheduled to hear the issue. Hanlon’s motion ultimately passed.
Monday evening’s action in a crowded council chamber followed a public speaking session dominated by Assistant Superintendents Charles Obremski and Kevin Shaw’s pleas for the mayor to release the Chapter 70 funding he has been withholding.
The mayor announced last week he was withholding the funding, acquired for the public schools by Senator Sal DiDomenico as part of a special funding package approved by the Senate and the governor to ease funding shortages being experienced by school systems like Everett’s throughout the state.
Obremski’s brief remarks with the mayor seated nearby highlighted the sharp divisions of opinion about the mayor’s belief the funds should be used to tame down the rising tax rate.
“We know the mayor and the city council will do the right thing by releasing these funds to the School Department,” Obremski said in so many words.
Obremski pointed out that the Everett Public Schools remain woefully short of their operational cash requirements because of the city government’s underfunding.
Shaw painted a rather grim and shocking picture of the overcrowding of classrooms rapidly overtaking the school system.
School by school, Shaw itemized how Everett teachers are now forced to teach in classrooms with 28 to 30 or more students.
“All the $2.5 million will be spent for teachers and aids to reduce classroom size,” Shaw told the council.