Aldermen Approve School Transfers, Delay Raises: Motion to Increase School Committee Pay Sent Back to Finance Committee

May 15, 2013
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The Board of Aldermen quickly voted to approve two transfer requests for the School Department totaling $1.37 million on Monday night, and then balked at approving an increase in the salary for Everett School Committee members, from $5,500 per member annually to $11,500 per member annually.

The pay raises if passed would have totaled just $42,000 annually and would not have impacted the city of Everett’s budget or tax base because it would have to be paid out of the school department’s bottom-line budget. Instead the request to increase the school committee salaries will head back to the Finance Committee, which had previously researched and recommended the $11,500 figure.

The transfer requests were made to cover expected shortfalls in the school department budget that are related to items outside of the school department’s control.

The first $591,187 request was found when the Everett school system determined that approximately 50 students in charter schools had erroneously been charged to Everett. The mistake in assigning the students to Everett resulted in a corresponding reduction to the Everett schools from the state aid formula (known as the cherry sheet), which caused the city to be under the state foundation budget.

Essentially, the state requires cities and towns to fund their school systems at a predetermined “foundation” level, in order to maintain access to state funding. Once the adjustments to Everett’s school population were made, the city was required to contribute more to its bottom-line school budget.

The second transfer for $779,900 was related to the school department Medicare reimbursement formula.

Both of the transfer motions were passed 7-0. Assistant Superintendent Charles Obremski and Superintendent Frederick Foresteire were both on hand to answer questions about the deficits.

When the vote on the School Committee salaries came up, it quickly became clear that a majority of Aldermen did not support the request to increase the salary by $6,000. Aldermanic President Sal Sachetta gave up the gavel and took a seat on the chamber floor as Alderman Joe McGonagle briefly took over as president, so that Sachetta could offer an amendment to increase the salary by $1,500 to just $7,000. Following the motion to amend, Aldermen Robert Van Campen rose to move that the entire question be sent back to the Finance Committee, so that the board of aldermen and the Common Council could further discuss the raise before taking a final vote.

Aldermen Millie Cardello and Michael Mangan were the only to Aldermen who rose to speak in favor of increasing the salary to $11,500.

In the end the board 5-2 to send the item back to Finance Committee.