RECORDING BY STM PRODUCTIONS
A former Boston youth worker who currently owns a property maintenance business, Hyde Park resident Domingos DaRosa is as civic-minded as they come, having coached hundreds of young people in various sports through the years. We asked him two questions about Boston Public Schools that we are asking all of the candidates.
What do you believe is the current state of Boston Public Schools? What grade would you give them now? And what grade would you give them when Marty Walsh started four years ago?
Four years ago I would say we were at like a C-minus. I say that because we didn’t have as much budget cuts. But over the last four years, the schools have received drastic budget cuts—$20 million one year, then another $15 million to $20 million. So over the last four years, the school department has lost almost $100 million in funding, which takes away from programs [and] students’ ability to receive the resources they need. Today I would give [BPS] an F-plus. We’re in a worse situation than we were four years ago and it continues to dwindle down.
I graduated from Madison Park High School. I am active with the school, I attend a lot of football and basketball games, I am in the alumni group. Madison, two years ago, was missing close to 70 teachers. Students were free to roam the hallways, they had no schedules. They had no guidance because they didn’t have a headmaster, and no one downtown would step up and attend to the school’s needs. Madison might get taken over by the state. It’s the only voc-tech high school in Boston, it’s a gem. It could benefit everyone across Massachusetts, because these students pick up a trade and go on.
Another thing for me is we are pushing testing without providing the resources so that [students] can pass these tests. Not everyone tests well. People with anxiety don’t test well.
What specifically are you going to do to improve schools? How many are you going to visit? What programs would you add or subtract? How much more money, if any, do you think the schools need?
I run the Boston Bengals, it’s a Pop Warner program. I visit as many schools as I can. The program has about 140 to 160 student athletes. As a councilor, my biggest objective would be to visit every school to see what they need. Not just to do an evaluation, and then six months later the same things still need to be fixed.
There are a lot of programs already here, but as a former employee of the Boston Center for Youth & Families (BCYF), [I have seen] that departments are not combined. There is no outreach… I feel that community centers should run [to complement] school hours… A lot of schools don’t have gym, or gym teachers. Well, community centers have athletic directors, athletic assistant directors. So why not bring in those people to provide services in schools? It won’t happen because of the unions, it won’t happen because of the departments, so a lot of the red tape needs to be cut out.
I ran a pool, I taught swimming for 21 years. I trained lifeguards all over the city. So when I was able to communicate with the youth, it was through a swimming pool. That was the avenue, and I was able to teach them a lot of the things that they needed to know for life. If you can’t tread water, you can’t swim in the deep end. It’s as simple as that. [We want to bring] those things which are already in place to the school… These things aren’t happening. Why? Because one department won’t work with the next department.
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