Question and Answer Forum for School Committee Candidates

The Revere Journal has asked each candidate for School Committee the following question: The school population has increased dramatically in the last few years in all grades.  What do you propose to address this continuing school enrollment increase that is resulting in overcrowding of classrooms?  The following are their responses:

A new Revere High School is my top priority

By Stacey Rizzo

All children living in our City have the right to a free public education. With that being said, as Revere’s population continues to grow it becomes more difficult to educate our children in reasonable size classrooms.

My priority going forward is a new Revere High School. Our high school facility was built in the 1970’s when many students did not participate in lab science classes. Today our students are required to complete 3 years of science lab in order to graduate. We do not have enough lab space for all our science classes. Many are in traditional classrooms which doesn’t allow for lab work to be done properly and safely! This leaves our students at a disadvantage & possibly at risk for accreditation, down the road. Our cafeteria is also inadequate. It was designed around an open campus model. Now not all students have a seat at lunch.

We have submitted a Statement of Interest to the MSBA (Massachusetts School Building Authority). The process and policies of the MSBA has eight Modules if accepted into the program: 1. an eligibility study, 2. Project team, 3.Feasibility study, 4. Schematic Design (sufficient detail to establish the scope, budget and schedule for the proposed project),  5. Project scope, Budget, Schedule, and MSBA financial participation, 6. Design development, Construction, Documentation, and Bidding, 7. Construction and Administration,​ 8. Project Closeout. It is with great hope that we get accepted into this project and if so our High School could receive 75 percent funding from the State and although the rest could be costly it would be beneficial to what we consider to be Revere’s pride & joy.

Stacey Rizzo is the current Vice-Chair of the Revere School Committee

 

Teacher’s input could help solve overcrowding

By Gerry Visconti

With the influx of families in our city, student to teacher ratio has to be evaluated constantly. It is not an easy fix because capacity in our schools don’t fluctuate the same way. However, the School Committee has to work diligently with administrators and teachers to develop innovative solutions in easing this burden. We want to make sure our children get the attention they need and that no child is left behind in the classroom. Our teachers have a hard job and we need to support them in developing sound strategies to address overcrowding in our schools.

The issue is not a new one and we’ve faced it as a community for the last 10 years or more. Revere has been and is going to continue to be a desirable place to live. With access to multiple modes of public transportation, a progressive city government, commercial and residential development, an outstanding school system, and a very bright future, our community is the place to raise a family and put down roots.

Despite the progression our city is experiencing, classroom ratio continues to be a point of contention for many administrators, teachers and parents. We have to consider solutions such as classroom aids, shared classrooms, tools that support teacher’s daily activities, increased financial support from federal, state and city resources and more. Additionally, parents have to play a very active role in not only helping their children, but also finding ways to support the school – whether through volunteering as aids, organizing PTA-related events, etc.

Unfortunately, there is not one solution that will alleviate the student-teacher ratio in our classrooms. As the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” In this case, it’s going to take the collective “we” to address this particular issue. It is up to the School Committee to bring the right parties together and work collaboratively to find the right mix of solutions.

Gerry Visconti is seeking election to the School School Committee.

I will continue to say: “We need a new high school”

By Carol Tye

I plan to continue to shout out in every way that I can – in the newspapers, on RevereTV, at every meeting and event that I attend, to everyone who will listen:  We Need A New High School!

The current building is too small, too outdated; and we have been informed that we cannot be accredited without a new high school.

We have to start NOW.  In the very best – but unlikely – case scenario, we can be in a new building in four or five years. But these projects more often take six or seven years.

Our elementary population grows every year. There are some folks who think that we should re-district; but that won’t work because classrooms are too crowded now.  And we have no extra rooms that we can adapt for classroom use. How will we ever fit that burgeoning demographic into the current RHS building?

Where will we build? I would love a piece of Suffolk Downs. Or a site west of Broadway. Some folks who think that there is no empty site available suggest that we build on the highway next to the Rumney Marsh Academy. I see problems in that because of neighborhood issues, traffic, and density. But similar issues have arisen in the previous five-building project that began in 1999 when I was superintendent, and we were able to address them successfully. Actually, the State will have the final say on where we can build.

In December, we expect to receive a response from the State regarding our previously submitted application to build; and I have every expectation that it will be positive. Then there will be a feasibility study, and of course one of the first issues to be decided will be location.

We need support from the entire community: the Mayor, City Council, School Committee;   we need parents, grandparents, families, fraternal and civic organizations, developers, Revere Public Schools graduates; in short, we need every resident to make a commitment to our kids. It is our obligation to provide for them a top quality education in an accredited High School.

Carol Tye is a current School Committee member.

New high school could help solve overcrowding

By Susan Gravellese

It’s no secret that school enrollment numbers in Revere have increased every year for the past decade, resulting in larger class sizes. For example – in 2015, our total enrollment was approximately 7,100 students. This school year, we have approximately 7,400 students district-wide. Currently, our class sizes range (on average) from 16 to 29 students per classroom. And, while our churn rate (the number of students coming and going) has actually decreased in the last 10 years, we still have an increased student population.

Our enrollment numbers change daily. This is the nature of a transient urban school district. With this being said, and based on these ever-changing enrollment numbers, we have identified two major problems – in addition to the overcrowding: (1) we do not have the funding to hire new staff to support the increased student numbers and, if we did, (2) we wouldn’t have space for these new teachers and classrooms.

The long-term plan for the school department, of which my School Committee colleagues and I have been working on with the superintendent and the mayor, is to secure funding and a location for a new high school. To support this, we plan to submit a statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority. If the funding can be secured, we plan to build a new high school (offsite from the current one), use the current high school as a centralized middle school, and use the existing middle schools as elementary schools (which would require some redistricting to create a balance). This potential solution would minimize overcrowding in all of the schools and create a more balanced student-teacher ratio.

My School Committee colleagues and I are committed to working together – with the Superintendent, Mayor Arrigo and the City Council – to ensure that our students receive the 21st century education that they deserve and as such, will work tirelessly on our plan to help eliminate the overcrowding in our schools.

Susan Gravellese is a current School Committee member.

A new high school is first step in addressing the issue

By Fredrick Sannella

I disagree with your original premise, “school enrollment increase that is resulting in overcrowding of classrooms in the last few years”.

Yes, “school population has increased dramatically in the last few years.”but not to the point of overcrowding.

Teachers have be added to a number of schools.Is space getting tight , yes it is.

Let’s look at the overall picture.  Word is out, Revere has an excellent school system, and people looking to relocate take this into consideration. Just look at Revere’s spiraling real estate market.This along with unregulated building of apartments plus the sale of empty nesters homes. This is when a couple have a 4 bedroom house whose children have moved out leaving just the owners. When that house is sold you have the possibility of at least three or more children in a house that he’s not had any for years.

With this all said , where do we go from here?

Well first it starts with a new high school. When this is done, the present high school will be converted to a central middle school. All the classrooms in the present middle schools will be converted back to elementary classrooms.

This will not be an easy task.To build a new high school you will need approximately 10 acres of land, land that is not readily available.

There are only two acceptable sites available , Suffolk Downs and Wonderland. Apparently the owner of the sites has stated that this land is unable. Only the city has powers under eminent domain to take property for the greater public use.

Now with all this said, where dose it stand.

All the school committee can do is to seek funding from the state for the construction of the new high school.

The superintendent of schools , by vote of the school committee has petition the MSBA for consideration on this matter.

This is all the school committee can do.

We can not raise money.

We can not invoke eminent domain.

We can not limit the amount of apartments being built.

Frederick Sannella is a current School Committee member.

The city residency requirement must be enforced

By Glenn P. LaCedra

The answer is simple and obvious, the failure of the Revere School Department, current Revere School Committee, and Arrigo administration only in the past few years to enforce the existing residency requirement for all students has resulted in hundreds of students from other cities to attend our city schools resulting in overcrowding in our classrooms for each and every grade, the actual cost which is staggering is borne by the Revere property owners and tax payers which is both wrong and unfair.

I propose that the Revere School Department using its existing truant officers strictly enforce the city residency requirements for each and every student which will greatly result in easing the overcrowding in our schools, reduce the current student numbers by over 300 students who do not reside in the City of Revere, and save this great city hundreds of thousands if not millions in lost tax dollars. In fact, the money saved from implementing this policy would in turn help in lowering the already “sky high” property taxes in the city, help in saving funds for needed repairs to improve our existing schools, and to help with funds in building the new high school, a very costly project often spoken about by our current school committee.

It takes fiscal accountability and conservative commonsense which the current administration and school committee woefully lacks. I promise if elected that this “key” and essential student residency requirement will be discussed and enforced in order to get Revere back on the right track. It is a first and needed step in the right direction.

Glenn LaCedra is seeking election to the School Committee.

There are several proposals to curb overcrowding

By Michael Ferrante

These are some of my proposals to help eliminate overcrowding in the public schools:

We should hire more teachers which would help to reduce the class sizes.

We should hire more paraprofessionals to support the teachers for overcrowded classrooms.

We should build a new high school and transform existing High School into a middle school for grades six to eight. This would eliminate the 6th grade lottery system and open up additional seats for all of our other elementary schools. Additionally, this would provide us the real possibility of re-districting to help reduce the class sizes.

We should improve the guidelines to ensure that all new incoming students must be residents of the City

and have a legal Revere address. This will help to prevent any nonresidents from attending our public schools.

If there are any questions at all, please feel free to contact me.

Ferrante is a current School  Committee member.

A comprehensive solution needed to school overcrowding

By Stephen Reardon

The problem of our ever growing school enrollment is multi-faceted and calls for a comprehensive solution. The first and perhaps somewhat exaggerated aspect is the suspicion that we are victim to the excellence of our schools in that there is concern that non-resident children may be enrolled in growing numbers. The fact is that the district enrollment staff now numbers three and the system for certifying newly enrolled children requires a home visit coordinated by the office of new enrollees. It is important that we remain vigilant however, given the cost to the city of educating each child.

We must recognize that the large inventory of multi-family housing stock continues to contribute to our rising school population. The City’s inspectional services must strive to make sure that our residential property meets with our maximum resident standards and that unit occupants are, in fact familially related.

Also, our zoning ordinances must be addressed to ensure that any further development is constricted to allow for the least impactful types of residential development possible. We must also refrain from re-zoning our valuable commercially zoned property to residential zoning. Commercial enterprises command a considerably higher tax rate than do residential, use far fewer city services and do not impact school enrollment.

In sum, addressing school enrollment is a city-wide issue and all of our officials must be aware of the problem and act accordingly.

 

Stephen Reardon is seeking election to the Revere School Committee.

There is no easy or definite answer to this dilemma

By Al Terminiello

There is no easy or definite answer to this dilemma. Over the past 10 years this city has been placing apartments of all income levels all over, where ever they can fit. Families that move into these are coming in with not one or two children, but studies have shown this to be three or more children. This has caused a huge difference in our school enrollment. Besides taking in students from outside of Revere as well.

Building new schools, after already building five, seems to be on everyone’s mind.  Massachusetts is known to be the highest ranked in the country at over $300 per square foot for building schools, that’s a huge tax burden on this city, and one our seniors don’t deserve to be paying for. Next is where, well Wonderland area is good to go for a new high school, Maybe? Next the old site for new hi -tech elementary/middle school on a grand scale. Due to a study of child family growth at an alarming rate through 2025, (estimated) this needs to be considered in the size of a new school.

Do I have an answer? No I do Not! Money is the answer to a lot of problems, but even so, if you had the money —where? How big?  This should have been in consideration years ago when we foolishly built all those apartments that are taking our tax money and using school budget, where was the thought process then?

The city is losing life long families to other cities and towns, offering a better life style, lower tax rates and less crowed schools, in some cases. A more aggressive and grass-roots policy needs to be implemented to keep our families in the city and certainly not allowing enrollment numbers to increase our schools budget and classrooms.

Al Terminiello is seeking election to the Revere School Committee.

Journal Staff:

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