The Everett School Committee approved a Fiscal Year ’24 operating budget for the Everett schools in the amount of $128.6 million at its meeting Monday night.
Supt. of Schools Priya Tahiliani told the Committee that part of the budget allocation includes $4.6 million for special education transportation and city charge-backs in the amount of $28.6 million.
Assistant Supt. of Finance Anu Jayanth joined Supt. Tahiliani in answering questions about the budget from School Committee members, including Mayor Carlo DeMaria.
In response to a prior inquiry by Committee member at-Large Samantha Lambert about school field trips, Jayanth stated that $240,000 will be allocated for field trips in the coming school year, more than doubling the current allocation.
Jayanth also announced an amendment to the budget that came about after the Everett High Art Department requested the addition of a drama teacher to the EHS faculty.
“This year, a theater (drama) teacher was added to Parlin, Whittier, and the English [Schools] as part of our ongoing efforts to increase equity within the arts curriculum at the K-8 level,” said Jayanth, noting that the Keverian School has had a dramatic arts program in place. “We do anticipate having a larger demand and enrollment in the theater program at EHS as a result. Hence, there is a plan to add this position [$85,000 in funding was allocated for the drama teacher’s position] to support the high school.”
That’s certainly awesome news for aspiring thespians and dramatic arts enthusiasts at the high school, which features a state-of-the-art auditorium for musical performances and school plays.
Mayor DeMaria poses
questions about the budget
The highlight of Monday’s meeting was the question-and-answer exchanges between Mayor Carlo DeMaria – who had certainly “done his homework” in preparing diligently for his inquiries about the proposed budget – and Asst. Supt. Jayanth, who displayed in-depth knowledge and expertise about all aspects of the budget. The interactions were cordial, professional and very informative.
DeMaria asked about the inclusion in the budget of a director of special projects and strategic planning.
“That’s a position that we’ve put into the budget for next year, so it would be a July 1 start date,” said Jayanth, adding that a job description for the new position has been posted.
DeMaria inquired about “unfilled positions” in this year’s budget. “What happens to those funds that you have allocated for those positions in this year’s budget?” asked DeMaria.
“There may be different strategic initiatives that we are providing funding for, utilizing any funds that we haven’t spent. Through the year, we’re monitoring unspent funding and new liabilities that come up,” replied Jayanth.
DeMaria asked about a potential $3 million expenditure for the renting of additional classroom space.
“If we don’t find a place to rent and spend that $3 million, what happens then?” asked the mayor.
“Our hope is that we will be utilizing it for that, because that is a big priority for next year, but if we find space and it’s cheaper than $3 million, and we can get some savings from that, then we’d be looking at what else we can utilize the funding for,” said Jayanth.
DeMaria asked Jayanth how many Everett students participate in after-school enrichment programs at various Everett schools, and Jayanth said she would get back to the mayor and provide the exact number of students participating in the programs.
All in all, the interactions were cordial, professional and very informative, and Mayor DeMaria joined his colleagues in supporting the passage of the new budget.