Letter to the Editor

On Voke School enrollment

Dear Editor:

Regarding Ron Jannino’s statement that Revere currently has more students at Northeast than ever before; that amount means nothing unless these 210+ students are receiving the best possible education from the most qualified instructors in the best and safest possible learning environment. I am concerned with a number of important issues at the school that have been allowed to become more commonplace over time. Revere as a community should be alarmed by them.

For starters, all students deserve better than to learn from unlicensed/unqualified teachers. Giving a job to someone who has never taught before is no way to provide learners with the best possible education. We need highly qualified instructors to prepare the next generation of the vocational work force. Teaching jobs are often only posted inside the school, and never in places where the best candidates will find them. The School Committee appears to do nothing at all to question these hirings or to demand administration strive for the highest qualified.

The taxpayers deserve transparency. School Committee meetings are not televised or recorded, the budget is not readily available, nor are the meeting minutes. Most of what goes on at the school is not reported in the local papers. We need to know more.

The public from the 12 cities/towns that go to Northeast deserve better than an exponential rise in costs. Woburn’s total cost, for example, went from $750,000 to almost $1.8 million in just 4 years. Hidden within these rising costs is a Superintendent’s salary that went from $168,000 to $179,000 in just two years–an $11,000 raise! There are a number of alarming equipment purchases around the school that were completely unnecessary–a powder coating unit that is not in the MA Vocational Frameworks was purchased for close to $100,000, and $500,000 was dumped into a STEM program that has been short-sighted from day one. Meanwhile, the school is falling apart, the athletic fields are badly outdated, and the leaky swimming pool has been closed for years. Last year, Revere sent Northeast $1.3 million dollars. How much more will be sent for the new school Northeast’s administration is trying to get?

The parents deserve better than to not even be told that there is mold all over the school – in bathrooms, in locker rooms, under floor tiles, and throughout the HVAC system. Having worked there for five years, I witnessed it myself. The school’s administration made a plea to the Massachusetts Building Authority because they are trying to get a new building, but have said nothing at all to the parents. Never mind that they run a daycare inside the school, exposing kids under the age of 5 to moldy air. This is highly disturbing, to say the least.

Since I announced my candidacy for the Northeast School Committee, parents and teachers who have encountered problems at the school and have no one else to turn to have been contacting me. They deserve someone to listen to them. Of the 12 school committee races, 10 are running unopposed–a lack of turnover on the School Committee will certainly do nothing to curb the general state of apathy. I have the utmost respect for Ron Jannino’s qualifications, as both a man and as a lifelong Vocational advocate; however, he has been in this seat for 32 years and has been unwilling to address the major problems listed above that have gone on regularly on his watch.

Revere needs a liaison between the school and the city, one whose actions keep the interests of both parties in mind. We need a representative who will work tirelessly to promote the school and enlighten the community about the many opportunities there are in vocational education for students. It is not simply about how many students are enrolled at Northeast; we must do better for them, and continue to strive for improvements across the board.

Lou Spagnola, Candidate for Northeast Vocational School Committee (Revere)

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