The Everett City Council decided Monday night that it’s had enough of the school budget-deficit saga. They passed on a chance to get an update on just what’s going on with Superintendent Fred Foresteire’s ever-changing budget story. The council may come to regret its head-in-the-sand approach if Foresteire changes his narrative yet again, riles up school employees, teachers, parents and students and then shows up to the council with his hand out in a replay of the recent circus of a council – school committee meeting just two weeks ago.
It was just three weeks ago that Everett Schools Superintendent Fred Foresteire and the school committee told parents and students that the schools needed $9 million or 110 teachers and staff would get the ax. That led to protests at city hall with sign-carrying students demanding the city pony up the money and save the jobs (understandably so).
So, two weeks ago, the council appropriated an additional $5 million to the schools (Foresteire argued that a good portion of that was due to the schools anyway). After the vote, the superintendent specifically told The Everett Stimulus. that the $5 million would stave off layoffs for one month only.
When additional money the schools could find internally was added in, the schools were still about $2 million short. It would stand to reason Foresteire would be back looking to plug remaining shortfall. But last week, the superintendent changed his tune, telling the Everett Independent newspaper that he would not be back to the council looking for the $2 million or any other amount.
Foresteire told the Independent he would use money from the school revolving account to make up about $1.5 million, and would rely on money not spent within the budget for the additional amount. If that is the case, why was he looking for that money from the city council in the first place?
All of this is reason why the council should have approved Councilor Michael McLaughlin’s proposal to get an update on where things truly stand. The need to stay on top of Foresteire’s constantly changing tale of budget shortages, possible layoffs and found money is obvious.
The council instead took the easy way out—a sort of Sargent Shultz-like willed ignorance of the situation. In one sense, you can’t blame them. None of them wants to be insulted and bullied like there were two weeks ago. But the responsible thing to do would be to watch Foresteire like a hawk and insure than there be no more surprises, no sudden claims that $X is needed or else layoffs happen.