The Board of Aldermen ordered $1.5 million transferred from the city’s free cash account to the School Department following a join convention of the Aldermen and the City Council before a huge crowd at Everett City Hall Monday night.
The vote was unanimous.
Police and fire department personnel had to clear the corridors of city hall after the crowd swelled out of the city council chamber.
At next week’s meeting, it is expected the City Council will also approve the transfer of the funds which were requested by the school department to stave off steep cuts and termination of key services due to a shortfall of state and local funding.
“I am very pleased with the outcome of this evening’s public hearing,” said Superintendent of Schools Fred Foresteire.
“The School Department needs every dime of that money to move forward with the gains being made in our public schools,” he added.
In fact, the schools need approximately $1.5 million in additional funding to meet its budgetary needs for 2012.
With the efforts of State Senator Sal DiDomenico and Mayor Carlo DeMaria and with the Medicare reimbursement expected by the city, that number should be reached.
Mayor DeMaria opened the convention by speaking strongly in favor of the motion for the free cash transfer.
“There is a real and compelling need for this transfer of funds to the school department,” he told the crowd and later told the Independent. “I’ve met with state officials and they’ve told me they will take my request for further funding seriously,” he added.
Several local residents spoke at the meeting urging the council and the aldermen to vote affirmatively for the funding transfer from free cash.
“It is the responsibility of the aldermen and Council to support and to take care of the children of this community,” said Johanne Delerme-Joseph, President of Parent Advisory Committee. “All the students need help, not just special education students. Everyone,” she said.
Richard Liston, a retired schoolteacher who works as a teacher’s aide in the Webster School Special Education Program agreed.
“I have seen the progress of young people in Everett over the years. I am impressed with how much is done in the preschool program. The teachers work hard and this is evident in the success of the students,” he added.
At the alderman’s meeting only two aldermen spoke against the measure. Aldermen Sal Sachetta and Mike Marchese both questioned the wisdom of the city giving up its free cash for the public schools.
Both men were booed by the large crowd. However, both men later voted for the transfer.
Alderman Joe McGonagle led the convention. He voted in favor of the free cash transfer and supported it as well.
City records reveal that during the past decade, free cash funds have been transferred to police and fire public safety agencies as well as others to the tune of $17 million.
Only $3 million in free cash has been handed to the school department.