Huge budget shortfall to blame for layoffs
BY JOSH RESNEK
The School Department is announcing this week that it will be laying off 350 employees – or slightly more than 1/3 its workforce – due to uncertainties about funding for the upcoming year.
The layoffs will take place as of July 1.
If all the layoffs are made, the Everett Public Schools would save about $25 million while at the same time crippling public school education here.
This has happened in the past, almost from year-to-year, with the vast majority of those laid-off rehired by the time school starts in the fall.
This year is a new normal, a year shaped and formed by the serious negative economic effects of the Coronavirus.
The layoffs are almost entirely contingent upon the unknowns presently standing in the way of producing a coherent balanced budget for the upcoming year.
The greatest unknown is what exactly the state will be reimbursing the city.
More importantly, and a greater unknown, is what the federal government will be reimbursing the state for the aid it gives out.
In the present political climate, it is impossible to predict what President Trump will do to punish Governor Baker for being contemptuous of him and for leading the state after his own fashion instead of listening to the president.
The president is known to punish governors who don’t agree with him, so it is anyone’s guess how the funding from the federal government to Massachusetts will go down.
Add to this the uncertainty about the road ahead created by the new superintendent.
Her leadership style is unto herself, that is to say, she keeps whatever she is planning under close wraps.
Within that protocol, however, is her own form leadership style and the ideas that comes from it, and new policies born of it.
EPS layoffs are believed to include nearly all department heads of the various departments operating inside the school system.
Those department heads will be allowed to reapply as teachers, or at least to return to their jobs as teachers, if funding is found to support their employment.
In at least one instance, an administrative position has apparently been defunded.
Dr. Omar Easy, an assistant administrator at the high school, has not only been laid off and his position defunded but it was also eliminated.
As one of the city’s only black school administrators, his layoff and the elimination of the position has raised eyebrows in some quarters where race and color are in such a highly politicized state in the nation today.
Longtime observers of school department budget making indicated that the 350 number of layoffs is “crying wolf.”
“We’ve gone through this many, many times,” said a member of the School Committee.
“Things should turn out OK. But these days, that’s hard to say. Certainly, harder than it was last year or any year before that,” she added.