With teachers, students, and parents protesting outside of Everett City Hall most of the day and into the evening on Monday, the Everett City Council went to work considering a proposal from Mayor Carlo DeMaria to provide an additional $5 million in funding for the Everett Public Schools.
Through almost two hours of public comment, questions and debate, the City Council asked questions of Mayor Carlo DeMaria, City Auditor Eric Demas and Superintendent of Schools Frederick Foresteire, in an effort to determine the extent of the funding problem and what their options were for helping the schools.
In the end, the Council voted 10-0 in support of Mayor DeMaria’s proposal to provide an additional $5 million above what was provided to the schools in the Fiscal Year 2018 budget process, staving off proposed layoffs while city and school officials work to close the remaining gap in funding.
The additional funding will come from the City’s General Stabilization Fund, a reserve fund set aside in the budget to help the city in times of great financial pressure and to show bond-rating agencies the City’s commitment to good fiscal practices and providing reserves within its budget.
Council President Peter Napolitano recused himself from the proceedings at the outset, because he has family members who work for the schools and would have been directly affected by the proposed layoffs.
With the vote by the Council, Foresteire stated that there would be no layoffs in the Everett schools imminently. However, he did state that without finding a way to close the remaining projected deficit of $2 million, some cuts may still be necessary before the year is out.
Beyond the mandated school budget allocation required to be paid by the City, the administration has already supplied a $2 million supplemental allocation – which came last fall. The $5 million expenditure voted for Monday would make a supplemental appropriation for this year of $7 million. Most other communities surrounding Everett, thus far, have not provided any supplemental budget allocations this year.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Charles Obremski said after the meeting that the school administration will enter into discussions with the Everett Teacher’s Association as soon as this week, to work on ways to close the remaining projected deficit within the budget, without layoffs. A meeting was scheduled with various school unions and the school administration for Tuesday night, after Independent deadlines.
The initial proposal for layoffs would have affected 110 workers across the district, including some 58 classroom teachers.
Prior to the debate and discussion among the Council members, 20 Everett parents, teachers and students took turns addressing the Council and pleading for the additional funding to save teacher jobs and educational programs within the schools.