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.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

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


bevcitizen said...

Some thoughts regarding the proposed override - article printed in Sundays Boston Herald:

Homeowners taken for an override

By Margery Eagan |

So at least 50 cities and towns around Massachusetts, going broke, want taxpayers to approve Proposition 2 ½ overrides, or else. They’ll lay off teachers, firefighters, police. They’ll cut school programs, shut libraries, close the firehouse down the street. If you don’t vote to raise your own taxes, they’ll likely do all those things.

But here are some questions taxpayers should get answered before giving anyone another dime.

Has your town joined the state’s health insurance pool? If not, why not?

Joining would save cities and towns $2.5 billion over 10 years, according to tax watchdog Michael Widmer of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. That’s enough to pay an awful lot of teachers, firefighters and cops.

But almost no towns have joined, Widmer says, because local unions don’t like the idea. They’d rather negotiate with individual towns. And because the Legislature has failed to give municipalities the power to override these unions, here go the towns again, begging, guilt-tripping homeowners into thinking they’re cheap and mean and cynical when the real problem is no political courage on Beacon Hill or in Town Hall.

Ask your selectmen if they’ve put pressure on Beacon Hill to act. Put pressure on yourself. Call your own state senator or state representative (617-722-2000) and ask why they haven’t dealt with the health-care insurance pool. Don’t let them give you a song and dance.

A few more questions:

What is your city or town doing about police details? Pensions? At what age can town employees retire and collect those pensions? Can they “double-dip” (explained below)?

Some of us thought we’d be dead before what happened this week happened: House Speaker Sal DiMasi, Senate President Therese Murray and Gov. Deval Patrick all agreed to rein in police details, plus the MBTA and the Turnpike Authority.

Police details in cities and towns now cost between $37 million and $67 million a year, the Beacon Hill Institute reports.

The Turnpike and the MBTA are not, obviously, local. But reducing MBTA fringe benefits (T workers can retire at full pension after 23 years) would save the state $1.1 billion over 20 years, taxpayer groups say. Such savings could mean the state actually funding the mandates it imposes on cities and towns.

In Boston, health-care and retirement costs have gone up 38 percent in just three years, the Herald reported this week. Mayor Tom Menino bailed out schools with $10 million. But not a word about ending the sort of practices that cost the city dearly.

Here’s a particularly galling one: the aforementioned double-dipping. Boston Redevelopment Authority retiree Paul McCann, for example, gets a $96,651-a-year pension - tax free. Yet he still consults at the BRA he’s retired from - collecting a second salary of $2,550 a week there. Incredible, isn’t it? He collects both pension and salary from the same agency at the same time. But why shouldn’t he? It should be illegal. Instead, it’s routine in Boston and at many state agencies and - rest assured - in your town, too.

You just won’t hear town officials admitting it when lecturing homeowners about stinginess. Don’t you believe it - the real reason you’re buying Kleenex for your first grader’s teacher and paying $175 for your high schooler to play a sport is not because your property taxes are low. It’s because politicians are either too inept, intimidated or worried about re-election to do a difficult thing: demand reasonableness from municipal unions.

They can’t do anything about contracts already signed. But they can do plenty about the future. So here’s another question: What, exactly, are they doing?

Julie BG said...

The article posted by Bevcitizen makes some interesting points. However none of these will happen, if they happen, in time to save our schools from this crisis right now.

The only solution to this crisis is the proposed Prop. 2 1/2 override. This will raise $2.6 million for the coming year's school budget and give us all time to find the best solution for our children and the school district. The override will not cost most of us very much; a house assessed at $450,000 (the median for Beverly) would only pay about $186 dollars a year, or 51 cents more a day -- less than the cost of a cup of coffee. Since half of our houses are assessed below $450,000, half of us will pay less than that.

Right now we need to convince the City Council and Mayor to just let us vote on an override. If we dont' get to vote on one, we can't pass an override. Even if an override doesn't pass, having the vote will give Mary Grant leverage on Beacon Hill. Right now other towns and cities can say they've exhausted all their options when they ask for more money from the state. Mary can't say that, because we haven't. Make sure our local politicians and your neighbors know this.

So, if you have time, please get a petition form and walk around your neighborhood with it today. If you don't have time, sign the petition.

michael said...

What about reassessment in The Farms? Most of us have houses that assess at 100% of their current market value. But a $7 million home in Beverly farms can assess at just over $3 million. Maybe we don't need an override -- maybe the most fortunate among us need to pay their fair share!

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