As a lead up to the upcoming Mayoral election, the first in Everett’s history that will give the Mayor a four-year term, The Everett Independent has engaged the two candidates for Mayor – Incumbent Mayor Carlo DeMaria and Alderman Robert Van Campen – with a series of questions about their ideas for leading the city over the next four years. Think of this as a weekly mini-debate unfolding right in the pages of our newspaper. Today’s question marks the second ina series of questions that we will ask the candidates over the next few weeks, in preparation for the November 5 election.
Our question for this week gets to the heart of Everett’s Pride,. Everett’s Schools, and how the candidates plan to address priority needs in the Everett School system.
Following the question are the written answers provided to us by the candidates. The Independent has made no material changes to the content of these answers and we have asked the candidates to keep their answers between 250-300 words. They are the answers that the candidates and their campaign committees have provided to us.
We hope this brief series of questions over the next few weeks helps you make your decision, if you have not already done so.
Q. What do you think the are priorities for the Everett School system in the next four years and how can city government help the school department meet those goals?
Mayor Carlo DeMaria Jr. response
Throughout my tenure as Mayor, my administration has maintained a strong relationship with the School Department and communicates daily about issues and plans.
Over the next four years, among the daily challenges that our educators face every day, there will be two major priorities for the school department: (1) to address continuing school population growth and; (2) to continue to maintain current buildings and technology and identify our school’s future needs.
First, several years ago, I hired a well-respected, local superintendent to advise the City on matters of school finance and school population. Together with the Schools, we determined that the best course of action is to study the rising school population and use that study to determine when and where a new school will be needed. We all know that this need is imminent. It is important for us to be proactive so we can plan and budget accordingly.
Second, it is important for us to continue to maintain the City and School Department’s existing buildings and technology so that our children have the tools they need to succeed. Over the past six years, I’ve focused capital improvements on the Parlin School and updated technology in every school. Working with the School Department, my administration put together and began implementation of a capital improvement plan to address many of the needs of the school department and identify funding sources for these improvements. This plan allows us to prepare for future needs while identifying and addressing current ones.
As we move forward, we need to remember that the City of Everett and the Everett Public Schools are one team, working together toward our common goal of educating and protecting our children. We can’t just help the School Department reach their goals. Their goals must also be our goals.
Alderman Robert Van Campen Response
Any discussion regarding the Everett Public Schools must begin by recognizing the tremendous work our administrators, teachers, specialists and paraprofessionals, led by Superintendent Frederick F. Forestiere, do each day for our students.
We have given our children first class facilities in which to study and learn, and we will continue to find ways to improve our school buildings and educational technology. Our priority must be to provide a world-class education to every student to empower them to compete for jobs in a challenging world marketplace. My goal as mayor is to transform a great school system into an urban model of excellence and success.
To that end, I will work with the Superintendent to focus our curriculum and resources on programs that identify obstacles to learning that many students face, to institute programs that enable those students to overcome those obstacles and provide training to students who wish to enter the workplace directly from high school.
I would begin with a goal of reducing class size in Kindergarten through Grade 3 in those schools where overcrowding now exists. Smaller class size ensures that every child receives more individual attention. That individual attention results in building a strong foundation for future learning.
I would also increase the number of Literary Interventionists in the lower grades and introduce them in Grades 5 – 8. Literary Interventionists are not English Language Learner teachers, but rather they address reading and writing issues for students who are currently below grade-level in those skills. Reading and writing are the fundamental skills from which all learning evolves.
And on the secondary level, our goals should focus on those high school students who do not plan on attending college, with programs such as computer engineering, website construction and health information networking. These programs will prepare our students for good paying jobs that do not require a college degree.