School ‘Blue Ribbon Task Force’ Could Have Report Ready by End of May

On Monday, May 13, the City Council convened for its regular bi-weekly meeting. All 11 Councilors were present to discuss a number of items currently affecting the city.

•Update on School Review Commission

Councilor McLaughlin also invited The Mayor’s Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas to speak to any recommendations that have been made by the School Review Commission. The Council had originally asked for an audit to be conducted on the School Department and for the formation of a blue ribbon commission to be formed to address the future of school funding.

“There’s still some additional information that the task force is working on,” Mr. Demas reported. “A lot of what they’re going to be reporting on is recommendations to make improvements so that what had transpired in the past wouldn’t happen again in the future.”

He said that, while he hadn’t seen the draft by the School Review Commission, it was approximately 75 percent complete.

One potential weakness that Mr. Demas believed would be addressed by the School Commission was in the hiring of new personnel. He envisions the City’s Payroll and Human Resources departments being more involved in the onboarding process of new employees in the School Department.

“There’s a large portion that we handle already,” he said. “It’s a matter of taking back the responsibilities that we used to have four to five years ago.”

Demas reported that he was more hands-on with the review of the school’s budget for FY 2020 than in previous years.

The final draft report will be submitted to Council after it is reviewed and fact-checked by the Mayor’s Office and the Superintendent’s Office. It’s possible that it may be submitted to Council prior to their budget meeting on May 29.

•Honoring a local hero

The Council voted unanimously on a measure presented by Councilor Rosa DiFlorio to add the name of Ann M. Cardello to the Veteran Square at the corner of Waverly and Bucknam Streets, which is currently dedicated to her brothers.

Ms. Cardello (1920-2017) graduated from Everett High School and served her country in the U.S. Navy during World War II, according to an online obituary. The memorial would celebrate her almost four decades of selfless service to her nation, first in the Navy and then in the Department of Defense.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this,” said DiFlorio.

•Parking on Union Ave.

Kevin Kidd, a resident of Liberty Street, addressed Council about the parking situation on Union Avenue. Kidd said the double-sided parking there was “taken away overnight” without notification to residents. Union Avenue is off of Broadway just to the south of City Hall and runs perpendicular to Liberty Street.

“It’s affected people coming to visit me, especially on the weekends,” he said. “People on Union Ave. were never told this was going to happen.”

Kidd added that he found it ironic that the Church Street realignment, which he had supported, remains unchanged, while the removal of parking on Union Avenue “happened literally overnight during the week.”

Councilor Michael McLaughlin was previously aware of the situation in his ward.

“They literally woke up one day and parking was taken away from the neighborhood,” he told Council. “To eliminate a street of parking is detrimental to any neighborhood. I’d like to see where this came from and why it was implemented, what the thinking process was.”

Councilor McLaughlin addressed the concern in an item in which he asked for the Mayor’s Chief of Staff to respond in writing by the next City Council meeting on May 27 as to why parking on Union Avenue was removed.

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