Now that the dust has settled and the City Council has supported Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s request to provide another $5 million in funding for the School Department, it is time to take a step back and look at what happened at the Everett City Council meeting last week.
Clearly, there has been at least some disagreement between city officials and school officials about how the Everett School Department wound up in the position to be projecting a year-end budget deficit and consider mid-year layoffs to close that gap.
Superintendent Frederick Foresteire, the Everett School Committee and other school administration officials have said that they believe the city had held back funding it had promised.
Mayor DeMaria said in remarks last week that the city had already provided an additional $2 million to the school budget during the budget last year and it was his belief that in so doing, he was paying forward items like the Medicaid reimbursement the city had annually provided to the school for many years.
At issue also are items like the retrofitting of the old high school on Broadway, to serve as an extension of the Webster School, the hiring of staff to serve in that building and improvements made to the playground at the Keverian School, which apparently was a city project that used some school funding to be completed.
And of course, there is the issue if the state funding formula for Chapter 70, which once again has not fully reimbursed Everett for the number of children who are actually in the Everett schools.
However, the fact that there are these discrepancies, shows the need for the type of task force that was announced by Mayor DeMaria last week.
The underreported part of the Task Force from last week is that this task force will also be looking at city-side finances and making recommendations about city budgets and how much the city should really be spending on its schools.
The new Task Force will include Barry Sloane, co-CEO of Century Bank; Samuel R. Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau; Dr. Dwayne Thomas, professor at Lasell College and Chief Learning Officer and Chief Strategist at Thomas Leadership Solutions; and Dr. Jon Fullerton, executive director of the Center for Educational Policy Research at Harvard University. Dr. Omar easy, Director of Organizational Assessment for the City of Everett will serve as staff director to the Task Force.
The outside audit will review School Department and City Department operational practices to help confirm how the city I spending its money and identify funding options or operational efficiencies that may conserve funding for subsequent budget years.