Says “Pope John Should Be A School”

By Josh Resnek

The Joint Convention of the City Council and the School Committee talked for several hours Monday evening about what to do about the overcrowding crisis in the Everett Public Schools.

This was against a back drop of The Neighborhood Developers dropping out of the project out of respect to the neighborhood.

While no major agreements were reached following a great deal of talk from Mayor Carlo Demaria, Superintendent Priya Tahiliani and their colleagues in government, there was a general agreement not to rush to judgment about the Pope John School being renovated to house 7th and 8th grade EPS students.

In addition, there seemed to be the general feeling that the costs for redoing Pope John and the old high school needed to be known in order for elected public officials to make reasonable decisions about what exactly to do.

Redoing Pope John might take about two years and cost $30-$40 million and might take 2 years to complete.

By doing so this would greatly relieve overcrowding by about 1,000 students out of approximately 1,500 who are without classrooms and proper educational space.

A new high school, as the mayor is suggesting will take at least 8 years and $500 million to build.

“The emergency is now,” several councilors and school committee members said.

“The time is now. We’re going to need Pope John…the numbers are going through the roof. Let’s get it done. We need a school now. I don’t want modular,” Councilor Stephanie Smith told her colleagues.

Marchese said the same.

“The need is now. We have to take care of our children in Everett,” Marchese said.

The mayor seemed to step back a bit after Smith’s strong comments.

“Let’s look at the potential cost and then let’s make a decision,” he said.

The bottom line, if in fact there is a bottom line, it is that overcrowding must be dealt with right now – not 8 years from now.

Also, it appears the city needs at least 2 new schools or school spaces, and there appeared to be general agreement that Pope John would be a good start.

In or within a short time, the various feasibility studies provided by the schools and the mayor will be examined and ultimately voted on.

Engineers and builders 4 years ago determined the former Everett High School would have cost $145 million to be rehabbed and would likely take 2 to 3 years.

The mayor said not approving modular was a mistake.

Councilor Darren Costa said he had no use for them because of security and teaching issues associated with them.

The mayor said the new high school could be bonded. He did not explain why Pope John renovations couldn’t be bonded. He continued to repeat that taxpayers will be effected.

School Committeman Almeida Barros urged his colleagues in government to choose Pope John.

So too, did Samantha Lambert.

Lambert said overcrowding is not a political issue. She said it was a civil rights issue.

“The kids deserve everything we can give them,” she added.

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