The job of Council President in not an easy one. As the elected leader of town government and a member of the School Committee, you have to follow closely all aspects of town operations.
Council President Peter Gill has maintained a positive, upbeat outlook in his first three months of office, but it was clear to all who were in the Joseph Harvey Room Tuesday night and those watching Mike Cabral’s WCAT live broadcast of the Council meeting that he is not happy at all about the $208,800 transfer request by the School Committee from the town’s free cash account.
Gill is demanding answers, and although he was pointing his finger during his emphatic speech at the Council meeting, he is not finger-pointing or laying blame. Gill has asked the town manager to report on what led to the School Committee’s request for $208,800 for what Gill said should have been an “anticipated” expenditure in the school budget.
The transfer request, if approved, will wipe out approximately two-thirds of the funds in the reserve fund, something that town leaders had worked hard to build in case of any emergency or “unanticipated” expenditures that the town might face.
We do know that the transfer request stems from decisions made before Superintendent of Schools John Macero and Assistant Superintendent of Schools Lisa Howard became the administrative team that is now leading our school system, and before Council President Gill was elected. Councilor James Letterie at first wanted to call upon Macero and Howard to address the topic of the transfer request, but Councilor-at-Large Philip Boncore felt otherwise because it would have put the current school leaders in the difficult position of having to address a situation that happened during a previous administration.
So President Gill wants answers and an explanation quickly from the previous School Committee. We’re sure that the prospect of taking $208,800 out of the reserve fund is not a pleasant one to contemplate for any of our town officials. We’ll all be waiting for the facts to come in before the councillors review the matter at the their next meeting.