One week after Mayor Carlo DeMaria chided the School Department for undermining him with ‘scare tactics’ directed at parents and residents, Supt. Fred Foresteire and his administration said they have simply told the truth about the situation, and it is no tactic.
They added they had no deal to give over any monies coming after the budget cycle, including the $2.5 million that is currently in flux at City Hall. That comes in direct contradiction of what the mayor and Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas said last week.
“There are no scare tactics,” said Foresteire. “Parents already know their child is in a classroom of 30 to 35 young people. We have to get those numbers down or achievement goes down. That’s not scare tactics. That’s the truth. If (the mayor) thinks the truth is a vscare tactic, that’s his problem. There’s nothing scary. We are like 11 other communities that got that money. We got $2.5 million. We’ve just given the truthful information.”
The Schools and City Hall are preparing, like most in City government this week, for the Nov. 1 School Finance Review Committee. That meeting is where the $2.5 million supplemental money will be discussed, and many believe it will be one of the hottest topics discussed in public all year. The money was given as part of Chapter 70 monies from the State Legislature through what is known as the ‘Hold Harmless’ fund. That fund goes to several Gateway Cities like Everett who have suffered financially from a change in the way low-income students are counted. While the students are low income, they are not counted as so under the new formula, and that results in less state funding coming into the district. Other cities with the same problem include Chelsea and Revere.
The trip-up here is that the mayor and the administration have indicated that there was a deal put in place during budget discussions earlier this year. That deal supposedly called for the City to put up an extra $6.5 million for the schools, and in return, any new monies coming in would go to the City. That included Medicaid payments and additional state payments. The City produced a slide from a budget presentation last week to prove that.
However, School Administrator Charles Obremski said there was no such deal.
He said during that budget presentation on May 14, he and others saw the slide and were shocked.
He said they immediately took up the matter with Demas after that meeting.
“The minute that slide when up, I’m sitting there at the meeting saying, ‘No, the School Department never agreed to that deal,’” he said. “We did agree to the Medicaid monies going to the City, which is about $1.5 million. We never agreed they would be keeping any money the State Legislature gave us as part of Chapter 70.”
He said right after that May 14 meeting, he spoke with Demas, Mayoral Assistant Kevin O’Donnell, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico and two School Committee members.
“We did it right away, five minutes after the meeting,” he said. “We made it known right after the meeting we never agreed to that deal.”
He said administration officials said they would need to talk to the mayor about it, but also indicated it should not be a problem.
Foresteire said he has gotten no direct confirmation that the $2.5 million in flux right now will be given over – a confirmation he needs to hire teachers back and get them into classrooms immediately. However, he did say he has heard that the mayor does intend to give it over.
“The faster we get that money, the faster we get teachers on board,” he said. “Everything the mayor is saying to other people is he will give us the money, but wants to go through the procedures. The state senator fought hard to get that money for the City of Everett and the children of Everett. It was meant for the School Department and that’s where it should go.”
The Nov. 1 meeting takes place in City Hall.