Everett is not an easy city to win over by acclimation – but the new Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani is doing just that, according to a variety of school department officials and employees interviewed for this piece.
“If you have a kid in the Everett public schools at this time it is a good thing, she’s in charge,” said a longtime school official. “She is not using plays from the old time playbook. She is making decisions. She is owning them. Most important to note, she isn’t complaining,” said the source.
Tahiliani announced last week she is cutting the budget by 5% just to be safe to start, and that it might, in a worst case scenario, have to be cut another 5% – 10%.
In years past during the past two decades, the school department almost annually would announce deep cuts being made- as if crying fire in a crowded theater, only to rescind the cuts and rehire back nearly everyone that was set to be let go before the new school year began.
No such tactic is being used by Tahiliani, who understands better than most the exigencies of the new normal brought on by the profound effects of the Coronavirus.
“She is trying to do layoffs strategically. It isn’t about who you are with her. It is about what you are doing,” said a source.
“She is sane and fair in negotiations. She is trying to make arrangements for the coming school year without knowing for certain what bumps there will be along the road,” said a member of the School Committee. “She is very smart. She understands how things work. She has a ton of integrity,” added the School Committee member.
She is attempting to deal with what she has, rather than to wish for more or to complain that Everett isn’t receiving its fair share of reimbursements or that other cities and towns get more than Everett does.
“If I may say this bluntly,” a school department official told the Leader Herald, “In this new reality we are living in today, with everything about the next school year in flux and question, the EPS are very fortunate that Priya is running the show. Anyone thinking differently has their head in the sand,” the source added.
“She is up for all of it,” he said.
“She communicates with the entire staff about basic things. When is the last time before her tenure that a superintendent sent out a school wide e-mail to communicate with teachers and administrators?” he added.
Tahiliani is facing the uncertainties of September and what form the reopening of the schools is going to take.
What role will online teaching and classroom instruction take?
Will classrooms as they used to be exist or be allowed? What will the state guidelines be?
The most compelling question – what will Everett and all
the cities and towns receive in reimbursement from the state, and what will the state receive from the federal government?
All of this right now are big question marks.
These question marks, all of them, and how they will be answered, fall onto the shoulders of the new superintendent. She has begun her tenure during what is believed to be about the worst moment in the history of the public schools here in the city’s modern history.
According to those who claim to have insight into her leadership skills, she is up for it – for all of it. That’s good news for the EPS.