By John Puopolo
As we all know, Everett’s housing over development has resulted in a significant capacity issue for our school facilities, and it’s growing.
Everett has paid pathetic little attention to affordable housing. In neighboring Chelsea during the past five years thousands of affordable housing units have been built.
Here, where thousands of new units have been built, almost no affordable housing worth noting has come to be part of the housing scheme here.
We need affordable housing but we badly need more classroom space and facilities to serve the public school children of this city.
As a resolution, residents would love to see our underutilized High Schools be the solution to overcrowding. Either one or both can be modified to accept entire grades to resolve the overcrowding quickly and to meet the need indefinitely. In fact, modifications could have already been completed if it was not for the administration’s indecision.
This overcrowding issue did not sneak up on any of us. It’s been a known issue just not properly handled.
As you all know, the newer of the two schools that would require less work to accommodate our students is Pope John High School complex.
This is why PJH, a recent $10.5M tax payer purchase, should not be given away for free to be torn down by a housing developer while tax payers will still be burdened with the $10.M debt for its purchase. PJH should be utilized for much needed class- room space and the administration is late in doing so.
A logical decision to resolve our school over crowding is to immediately invest in opening PJH to use available school space that the city already owns and does not have to build. This decision is needed yesterday by the Administration to prevent a $500M solution of taxpayers money to build another new HS in the next 10 years. And don’t forget the additional 25% on top of $500M for the normal contract over run per the mayor.
The taxpayers are already in debt for $10M for Pope John. To give it away free to a developer for more housing when the children are in unacceptable over crowded conditions is just NOT logical. This situation also gets worse every time a new housing unit is approved be it 1 unit or 1000 units.
Our suggestion is to save the taxpayers from the ongoing and significant tax increases required to pay for a new $500M high school sometime in the next 10 years.
Some bad decisions got us in this situation. It is time to start making good decisions for the children and the taxpayers. It is criminal not to immediately approve up-fitting existing school space to take on a couple grades versus spending $500M (plus the guaranteed 25% contract over run,) in the next 10 years.
This is a self-inflicted crisis. Capacity should have been resolved 2 years ago. Why is there resistance from the mayor to use Pope John? We are years late. The new window of opportunity is now.
Open up Pope John as a junior high school.
Open it yesterday!
John Puopolo is a successful businessman, home owner and lifelong resident of Everett. He is one of the leading voices for sanity and economic honesty at city hall.