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Mayor and School Department battle over funding

The Everett city seal on City Hall. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)


By JOSH RESNEK

The battle is now intensifying between the mayor and the School Department over more than $1.5 million in funding that the School Department (SD) claims is theirs, and he claims it is his. The mayor and his CFO

Eric Demas, the chief supporter of the mayor and architect of Everett’s financial domain, did a simple transfer of money from one account to another, removing the money in question from SD accounts and placing it in the city’s account.

The only problem with the transfer of more than $1.5 million from School Department accounts to the city’s account, is that the SD had already spent more than $500,000 of the funding the mayor took away from the SD for mandatory spending, causing the SD to stumble just a bit when it appropriated money for expenses that were no longer there and had to use other money to meet its financial obligations.

It was almost a bit like the SD believing the money was there, writing checks to pay for services, and the checks later bouncing because the funds had been taken by the mayor.

The mayor’s economic braintrust Demas suggested that Tahiliani take back some of the money from another account, the SD transportation account, to make up some of the money that was spent.

Superintendent Tahiliani agreed with the mayor and Demas that that was a nice idea but told them that was impossible. She wouldn’t and couldn’t do it because of one indisputable fact– it would be illegal to take the funding out of the SD transportation account to make up for the money the mayor had transferred out of the SD account.

Bottom line: “Hand us over the money,” Tahiliani told the mayor and Demas (who was listening in on Zoom).

Instead of agreeing, the mayor winged and moaned unintelligibly making the case the money he took out of the SD account wasn’t really the SD’s.

Tahiliani did not budge.

When the School Committee refused to allow Demas to speak, in order for him to give cover to the mayor’s “theft”, the mayor was left by himself to explain.

He tried. He failed.

He looked and sounded ridiculous.

He uttered a torrent of meaningless nothings about the city’s economic and financial policies as if trying to persuade Tahiliani she did not know what she was doing.

“I’m the mayor. This is the way it is. Accept it or go jump in the lake,” the mayor seemed to answer.

This piqued the superintendent of schools and her newly appointed SD CFO. They listened to the mayor’s protestations with a mix of shock and despair.

They understood the financial policy governing the return of the money they are owed.

The mayor didn’t.

For almost 12 years, the mayor has consistently, at every turn, underfunded the SD.

A report released last week by the superintendent revealed that Everett’s spending per pupil in the public schools is the lowest among all the cities in the area and out of the area by a wide margin of many thousands of dollars at about $14,000 per student.

Chelsea, for instance, spends about $19,000 per student.

With the mayor trying at every opportunity to steal money from the SD budget, per pupil spending here remains the lowest.

We suggest the mayor hand back the money he and Demas took away from the schools.

We know he will.

The only alternative is to have his chicanery exposed for what it is.

The mayor’s specialty is taking away from others what is theirs.

He does this by demanding donations that are scaled against the amount of their city salary.

Superintendent Tahiliani doesn’t like SD funding being “illegally” and “immorally” removed by the mayor for his petty purposes.

The mayor is going to find this out.

Once again, his “theft” of this money which he seeks to describe as a transfer, is an embarrassment.

No one knows this better than the superintendent, and the chair of the School Committee Thomas Abruzzese.

Look for the money to be returned post haste.

The mayor has no other option.

He got caught with his hand in the SD cookie jar.

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