“A contract is a contract”—School Committee Member Marcony Almeida-Barros
Everett School Committee members voted 7-2 on Monday to deny any amendments to existing contracts that result in increased costs of contracted services.
Board members later agreed unanimously to “refer back to [the] sponsor” a measure that would have amended the existing contract between the Everett School Department and Malden Trans, Inc. (MTI) to include a four and a half percent fuel surcharge. The request for the surcharge – originally made by Malden Trans – was later rescinded by the company.
In an email to board members, Malden Trans officials said they had “become very disheartened” by the public debate at School Board meetings regarding the matter. “…we were simply seeking the surcharge based on the unprecedented inflationary environment we are facing and the fact that over 90 percent of MTI’s school bus fleet is dedicated to Everett students,” the e-mail reads. “We are not immune to these historic economic events. “We have been caught in the middle of a political cross-fire.”
Superintendent Priya Tahiliani told board members school contracts need to be upheld. “I do continue to recommend that we formally adopt a policy that prohibits us from considering requests in the future in order to represent a smart, fair and consistent way to treat all of our vendors,” said Tahiliani.
Eric Demas, chief financial officer for Everett, said costs need to be considered closely before the bidding process takes place. He said renegotiating contracts may not be tenable. “Every contract should be taken on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “Every case is different. Every contract is different. My opinion is I don’t think it would be a good idea.”
Responding to a question from at-large board member Cynthia Sarnie regarding fluctuating costs, Demas said he needs to check the specifics of city contracts to determine whether changes can be made. “I would say that we have our set of standard blanket contracts where we have the ability to amend each contract,” he said. “But that obviously takes two parties. But I don’t think we have anything that says unforeseen circumstances.”
Ward 5 School Committee Member Marcony Almeida-Barros said renegotiating contracts can result in possible litigation for the School Department. “A contract is a contract,” Barros said. “[Superintendents] always came before us when there was a need for additional costs for a particular thing to explain to this body why we needed additional funding for a particular matter, and this body either approves or denies. But just to say that the price of gas is higher, the price of food is higher, the price of clothing is higher – we open up ourselves for different vendors to come to us and say, ‘I need more because the price is high.’”
Everett High athlete/scholar lauded
Everett High’s Ismael Zamor was praised by board members on Monday for his efforts on and off the field. Zamor has been selected to the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) Super 26 All-State Team and he also won a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Award. He has been chosen for the Boston Herald All-Scholastic and Greater Boston League All-Star teams. Zamor was honored at the MHSFCA awards banquet this spring.
The six-foot-one-inch, 185 pound senior has committed to Boston College. Zamor, who sports a 3.89 grade-point average, was nominated by Coach Rob DiLoreto for the Scholar-Athlete Award.
“His effort was top-notch and the results have proved it,” DiLoreto. “Ish lives by the values of humility, kindness, faith and love. He is truly a very special young man and a tremendous leader.”
Citing learning; students want more field trips
Pointing to the learning benefits of additional field trips, Everett High School students want to move beyond the classroom setting.
Student Trévon Carrington appealed to School Board members on Monday to fund additional field trips, citing studies that show time spent outside the classroom leads to more learning. Carrington, a freshman at Everett High School, said students were questioned in a recent survey, and the results showed many feel field trips can lead to unique learning experiences. “We work all year in the classroom, and it gets stressful at times, he said. “Not all learning takes place in the classroom.”
Carrington said many of the students in the survey felt field trips should take place after MCAS testing is complete. He said school officials have set aside about $37,000 for field trips. “We think we can make this possible after MCAS,” he said. “Field trips prepare us for life outside the doors.”