The Everett City Council has seemingly decided that 10 is enough when it comes to the number of members on the School Committee.
The Council and School Committee have been butting heads since late last year when the Council began a disagreement with the Schools over a CARES Act grant, and also voted suddenly to make Mayor Carlo DeMaria a voting member of the Committee amidst strong objections of the membership. That led to a new discussion about the Council adding an 11th member to the Board to prevent tie votes – with a 5-5 vote being a failed vote by Charter. Many members didn’t seemingly want another member on the Board, but in a unique part of the Charter, the Council can make decisions about the School Committee without their consult.
So, it became what many on the inside felt was a power struggle between the two elected bodies. On Monday night, the temperature was dialed down quite a bit as the Council voted against going forward with a Charter Change to all an 11th member – a unanimous vote of 0-11 and a stark change from the mindset 30 days ago.
School Committee Chair Frank Parker praised the decision, and said he and School Committeewoman Samantha Lambert had provided very strong information at a subcommittee meeting this month against such a change.
He was glad the Council listened.
“I applaud those members who listened to the information that Mrs. Lambert and I presented at the subcommittee and who also did their own further research and understood adding another School Committee member was counterintuitive to the intended goal,” he said.
However, the issue started with a bang on Monday, with Councilor Michael McLaughlin proposing to go forward with the Charter Change and to have a vote immediately.
“I think we have to make decisions that will last beyond us,” he said. “I think this decision will last long past us. We have an obligation to do this. It’s about five or 10 years down the road. I think we can fix a wrong tonight and help the School Committee…It’s about looking forward to the future.”
Councilor Rosa DiFlorio said she would support it, but said she didn’t want to overreach the School Committee.
“I am in favor of adding an 11th member, but if the School Committee doesn’t want it, we should respect their wishes,” she said. “I do think it should be an odd number so there are no issues in the future and they don’t argue over a failed 5-5 vote.”
Councilor Fred Capone was adamantly against the idea of once again changing the City Charter without a vote of the people. He stood against the School Committee change on those grounds.
“This is our fourth or fifth Charter Change we’ve done,” he said. “I don’t want our legacy to be we trampled all over the Charter. We shouldn’t keep carving out these changes.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria – who is now a voting member of the School Committee – said he had no opinion on the matter.
“I don’t see needing this, but I don’t really have an opinion,” he said.
Councilor Anthony DiPierro said if the Committee doesn’t want it, he would vote ‘no’ as well. He then called for a vote.
The matter was soundly defeated 0-11.