This site aims to inform and mobilize Beverly parents to take an active role in all issues related to the funding and operation of the city's schools. It was launched in the spring of 2008, when the city saw its first-ever override attempt fail, followed by the closure of a nearly-new elementary school. Subsequent years have seen further cuts that have led to larger class sizes across the district. While the opening of an impressive new high school and plans to replace the city's aging middle school give us reason to be optimistic, the school community must be ever vigilant in demanding appropriate school funding by city and state governments, and better community communications from the district and School Committee.

Monday, March 31, 2008

This is Our Community!

Last Friday morning a group of concerned parents got together at the Cove Community Center to really examine Dr. Hayes proposal and to look for solutions that might be better for our children and our community.

Susan Johnson, a Hannah parent and City Wide PTO representative, opened our meeting with a wonderful set of guidelines. I offer them up to the community at large:

  • We all want what is best for our children and the city of Beverly, recognizing that our individual agenda may need to be sacrificied for the greater good.

  • Dr. Hayes and the school committee have worked hard and creatively to deal with the shortages of money and we need to be respectful.

  • This problem/mess is bigger than the City of Beverly but we as the City of Beverly need to fix it. There are no state or federal solutions in immediate sight.

  • Everyone has an opinion. Everyone's opinion is welcome. We don't expect to agree. We do expect respect, civility, and a focus on what we can do.

  • Information/knowledge is power. Rumor is dangerous, devisive and destructive. No matter what school our children attend, the issues are the same.

  • We all have different gifts. With that in mind, bring your gifts to the table and do what you can to solve the problem.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

School Committee Contacts

We posted city council addresses earlier. Here is the contact info for the members of the School Committee:

    Member Ex Officio
    His Honor, Mayor Bill Scanlon
    5 Whitman Place
    978-922-9699
    mayor@beverlyma.gov

    David Manzi – Ward 1
    34 Roderick Avenue
    978-921-0123
    dmanzigoldcoast@aol.com

    Paul A. Manzo – Ward 2
    89 Lovett Street
    978-927-9912
    paulmanzo@comcast.net

    James F. Latter – Ward 3
    145 Park Street
    978-921-8874
    jimlatter@hotmail.com

    Karen Fogarty - Ward 4
    169 E. Lothrop Street
    978-927-4617
    karenfogarty@comcast.net

    Annemarie Cesa - Ward 5
    290 Essex Street
    978-922-4052
    momcesa@comcast.net

    Maria T. Decker – Ward 6
    11 Wentworth Drive
    978-927-1013
    mtdecker@comcast.net

    What do you think?

    Some of you have been looking for a way to respond to this blogsite, so we wanted to create a place to post general ideas and questions, and get a dialogue going ahead of Tuesday night's meeting. Please use the comment function below, and try to keep your comments constructive. Consider that this is a Beverly issue, not the issue of any one school.

    You can also always respond to any other particular post on here.

    Go at it:

    Yes! for Beverly

    If you are interested in helping Yes! for Beverly, a group proposing a Prop 2-1/2 override to help address the current budget crisis, please visit their website, or contact Joan Sullivan at info@yesforbeverly.org.

    Saturday, March 29, 2008

    Questions for Dr. Hayes

    On Friday, a group of more than 60 elementary school parents met to discuss the current budget crisis. The following is a letter from Michelle Morrow Curreri that was sent to Dr. Hayes requesting further information on a number of details in his proposal.

    Dr. Hayes:
    I had the privilege of being part of a community meeting this morning that focused on the current proposal for Beverly schools and have been elected to send you this email. We were 60+ strong and had a very constructive meeting. Out of this meeting came numerous questions that we need information on prior to the public hearing on April 1st. We would very much appreciate answers so that we as concerned Beverly citizens can assist the School Committee in addressing the budget issues. Please let me detail each in turn:
    • What prevents the School Committee from preparing a budget that works and provides for our children and submitting to the Mayor and City Council who then have the elected responsibility to balance the citywide budget?
    • What is the timeline for implementation of the alternative secondary school? What are the costs involved in transforming McKeown for this purpose? Will the city cover the costs involved? When does it become revenue generating? Where does the staffing for this facility come from and how will that impact future budgets?
    • What is the plan for next year when we are again faced with double digit increases in utilities, health insurance and special education?
    • What are the benefits of a dedicated Early Childhood Center as opposed to the current model?
    • In the presentation, there is a statistic that states that class size has very little influence on student success. Where did this statistic come from? Is there an explanation provided as to why this study is the valid one when for years the opposite has been cited as the truth?
    • There are many statistics cited throughout the proposal. Can we please have more details on the sources for this information?
    • In addition to what is presented on slide 15, were there other alternatives considered i.e.: closing Memorial altogether, not providing preschool to peer models, freezing administrative staff salaries, etc.?
    • Are preschool classes full now? Does the peer modeling portion generate revenue to cover expenses? If the preschool enrollment is "exploding" what portion is special education? How has this increase been factored into sustainability of the current proposal?
    • What are the School Choice costs and revenues we are realizing?
    • Given the scope of Special Education and the enormous costs involved, can we see a very detailed breakdown of this line item?
    • Do the projected class size numbers include the Special Education students that are integrated into the classroom? If not, why? What safety and space issues have been discussed and addressed?
    • What are the future plans to account for population changes and student increases? How have you accounted for Beverly students that may return to the public school system from private or parochial schools?
    • Why is there no grant money included in this budget? What grants are we going after and which ones do we anticipate receiving based upon previous history. Doesn't this mean that the shortfall could actually be less? Are there other grants that we should be applying for?
    • How can we maintain quality of education when the population of the students remains the same but we are losing paraprofessionals and reading teachers. With this loss, how can the schools comply with specific IEPs that are Federally mandated?
    • How do we handle logistics with the increases in students i.e.: lunches, assemblies, parking, etc.? What are the safety implications for the children and how does this affect insurance coverage? Are there structural changes that need to be made to any of the physical facilities to accommodate the shifting population? Have these costs been captured?
    • What would the cost be to climate all bussing? How much could be saved in consolidating services?
    • At Briscoe Middle School, we just reconfigured the teaching teams. What is the educational impact of doing this again?
    • Can we get a detailed breakdown of the roles, responsibilities and salaries for each administrative position (Supervisors, Directors, Clerks, etc.)
    I thank you in advance for your cooperation here. Please do send me the
    information as soon as possible so that we can distribute this to all
    concerned and have a productive meeting on Tuesday night.

    Best Regards,
    Michelle Morrow Curreri
    michelle@curreriworldsvs.net

    If you have any other questions, please bring them to the Tuesday meeting, or leave them as comments here.


    Beverly City Council members e-mail

    Tim Flaherty (At-large/Pres.) - flahertyt@hotmail.com
    978-927-1638

    Bill Coughlin (At-large) - willocogie@comcast.net
    978-927-2433

    Pat Grimes (At-large) - p.grimes@comcast.net
    978-927-6244

    Maureen Troubetaris (Ward 1) - Mtrouble123@msn.com
    978-927-5681

    Wes Slate (Ward 2) - wslate@beverlyma.gov
    978-927-4844

    John Burke (Ward 3)- jburke@beverlyma.gov
    978-921-0499

    Kevin Hobin (Ward 4) - k.hobin@comcast.net
    978-922-6498

    Don Martin (Ward 5) - donandmichelemartin@comcast.net
    978-927-8888

    Judith Cronin (Ward 6) - judithcronin@comcast.net
    978-921-5893

    April 1 Public Meeting

    A public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 1, at 7 p.m. in the Beverly High School Cafeteria on the proposed fiscal year ‘09 budget cuts to the Beverly school system to address the 09 budget shortfall of nearly $2.67 million.

    This night is your opportunity as parents to give feedback to the Superintendent and the School Committee about the reconfiguration of the schools.

    You can

    • ask questions about and talk about your concern for the school and city budgets
    • share your thoughts and concerns with public officials—the school committee, Supt. Hayes.
    Please make an effort to be there!

    Friday, March 28, 2008

    Help Us Save Beverly Schools

    This site will be the central place for information on the current school budget crisis.  Please stay tuned for new announcements in this space, and links to relevant information in the left hand column.  This site is sponsored by independent parent and concerned citizen groups, and is not affiliated in any way with the Beverly Public Schools or the City of Beverly.