If the city does not make up a structural deficit in public school financing, the School Committee will be forced to layoff 96 teachers and personnel as well as eliminate $1 million from non-personnel items, according to School Committeeman David Ela.
Cuts that deep would irreparably harm public school education here and destabilize the city during a population growth period that has filled the schools to an overcapacity condition, Superintendent Fred Foresteire said on Tuesday.
Ela, who chairs the School Committee Finance Committee, asked Mayor Carlo
DeMaria and the city government to give the School Department the $3 million it needs from the city’s free cash account.
In fact, the School Committee has sent a request to the mayor for the funding effort.
The mayor said he would be asking the Board of Aldermen and the City Council to study the shortfall, to deliberate the issue and to make a reasoned response.
The mayor and Foresteire met last week to discuss the matter.
“The mayor assured me he will do what he can to meet this challenge,” Foresteire said.
According to Ela, if the city fails to make-up the cash, the shortage would result in the closure of the 3 year old pre-school program, multiple programs and activities in K-8 schools and at Everett High School. The end result would be increased class size across all grade levels.
The mayor indicated he understands the problem and said Tuesday he has already called state leaders and requested $1 million of emergency funding.
“The School Department is doing their thing making cuts of about $1 million. Its sad that the cutting is necessary but it has to be done. Let’s face it, the public schools need the money being asked for. I’m going to do my best to raise $1 million from the state. They want $2 million from the city treasury. At the very least, I’m committed to giving $1.5 million from our free cash account. The city can also hand over to the schools about $500,000 in Medicaire funding. So I feel already that the schools are going to be OK,” said the mayor.
The greatest challenges the public schools are facing today are the loss of grant money from the government and increasing costs.
That amount will total $4.6 million in 2012.
The Mid-Year report published by the School Department indicates that enrollment is spiraling out of sight with perhaps as many as 500 new students entering the public school system in 2012 and more than 300 added in 2011.
“We are the first line of defense for the children of this city. Providing a worthwhile education to every student – or at last providing the opportunity of an education is what our business is all about. It is also about maintaining order – and the public schools maintain order among the largest percentage of this city’s youth and it needs to remain that way,” Foresteire said.
Ela echoed the superintendent.
“We must remain in compliance with Federal and State laws. We are investing in the future of our city, state and country by providing our children with the best education we can,” he said.