A chorus of residents wondering why Pope John is not being used to mitigate overcrowding in the public schools continues to dominate the public forum during public speaking portions of the city council and school committee meetings.
This is a powerful chorus of articulate people who are being treated as though they don’t know what they are saying and who are, at the same time, refusing to be intimidated or marginalized.
At last week’s school committee meeting, the high school principal was asked by a school committeeman to report on the population at the high school.
The principal replied: “It was built for 1800 students in 2007. We now have more than 2300 students and an additional 37 are waiting right now to be approved for entry into the school.”
The mayor’s flip flop on Pope John – first being for it and then being against it, has an echo with the public speakers that is not going to go away.
Also, the public speakers, and this includes members of the school committee as well, report almost from week to week that residents with kids in the public schools for the most part, don’t want their children in modular classrooms.
The mayor’s belief is that modulars are as good as classrooms, and in many respects, he is right.
However at the cost of about $15 million to build out, they do not represent the benefits that would come from Pope John being whipped into shape to mitigate overcrowding.
Part of the mayor’s argument is that he is posturing to build a new Everett high school with a vocational component – another decent and sensible idea – but at a cost of about $700 million and more than a decade away, it is more likely than not ever going to come to pass.
What to do?
Many reasonable public speaking voices and more than several school committee and city council voices believe Pope John makes better sense than anything else on the drawing board.
And why not, we are left to wonder?
In what other community would a perfectly suitable empty former high school facility be determined to be surplus and that modular are better than the brick and mortar facility?
Only in Everett.