Lack of Executive Session Minutes Draws Controversy At School Committee Meeting

The issue of providing the non-existent official minutes from a December Executive Session of the previous School Committee had Mayor Carlo DeMaria, current School Committee members, and residents in the audience all scratching their heads and doing a lot of finger pointing at the former School Committee.

The issue was that no city official at the meeting who was dealing with the ongoing issue of naming a new Superintendent  of Schools had recorded any formal and complete minutes of the Executive Session.  And to compound the issue , the Attorney General’s office has given the City of Everett until mid-April to forward the minutes of the Executive Session to the Attorney General, who is investigating  an Open Meeting Law violation.

However, representatives from Alma Advisory Group, which was hired to head-hunt for a new superintendent, did take minutes at the Executive Session, but it will cost the city an extra $5,000 to get a copy of the minutes. Alma Group was not required to take minutes and there is an added expense to have them transcribe their notes, which they took for their own internal purposes..

“This is ridiculous,” said DeMaria about the issue, though he added that it was unfair to throw former School Committee members “under the bus” for the problem.

School Committee vice-chair Samantha Lambert pointed out that while she does not like to spend $5,000, it seems that the only option is to pay the extra $5,000.

DeMaria perhaps summed it up best for his colleagues with the observation, “Let’s pay the $5,000 and move on.”  The School Committee then voted 8-1 to do so, with member Marcony Almeida Barrios being the lone dissenting vote,

In other business, Lambert offered a resolution to request the state to provide an additional $9 million to the city, which Lambert says represents the difference between the 4.5% increase that Everett received in school funding from the state for the fiscal year and the actual increase of 9% that the Everett School Committee appropriated for school programs.

The city presently receives $117 million in state aid under the Student Opportunity Act (SOA).  Everett receives a higher amount of state aid because the city is a gateway community.  Senator Sal DiDomenico, who was at the meeting, was asked to give an explanation of the state funding formula and whether the state would give more money to Everett schools.

DiDomenico pointed out that Everett has received additional  monies in the last five years, noting that in 2021 Everett schools received $75 million and the amount has continuously increased each year afterwards. 

It was at this time that certain members of the audience started to heckle DiDomenico — but he gave it right back, saying that he has been working on improving the quality of Everett education for students for years, not just for three hours at a School Committee meeting like some of the hecklers. 

At this point chairperson Jeanne Cristiano reminded members of the audience to stop their heckling.

As for the chances of Everett schools receiving an additional $9 million from the state, DiDomenico said that he is one vote out of 40 in the Senate, and that every school district in Massachusetts is being impacted by budgetary woes. However, he urged the School Committee to send out the resolution asking for the additional $9 million.

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