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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beverly Education Roundtable and Forum

Thursday night, The Beverly Education Roundtable will hold a forum at Endicott College. The group, founded in August by Mike Cahill, a former state representative and teacher, is based on the notion that partnerships with various schools and colleges, businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations can provide greater opportunities for students.

"The idea is we've got some amazing and unique resources in this community, and why not create Beverly into a real center?" Cahill said.

The forum will feature
Paul Reville, the state's incoming Secretary of Education.

While the forum's focus seems to be primarily on higher education and industry, it would also be a good opportunity to discuss what greater role these schools could play in their host communities' public schools, and to ask Reville to speak to the State's role (increasing mandates and decreasing funding) in the current budget situation in Beverly and many other communities.

The forum will be held:

Thursday, May 1, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Endicott College's Wylie Conference and Education Center
295 Hale St.
Admission is free and open to the public
You can read more about the forum here.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Override Funding Approved

Although mostly a formality, the city council voted unanimously last night to approve spending $30,000 to fund the June 3 special election. Prior to the vote, nearly two dozen citizens took the opportunity to speak, and largely voiced support for the measure.

There in now just over one month left to build support with the community at large for passage of the override. At the same time, the School Committee and Superintendent are moving ahead with their plan to implement the reconfiguration plan and other cuts should the override fail. If you'd like to help with the override effort, please contact Yes! for Beverly at info@yesforbeverly.org.

Here is the Salem News coverage of the meeting.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Override Funding Hearing & Vote Tonight

The City Council will vote tonight on funding the special override election. There will be an opportunity for the public to speak on the issue before the vote.

Earlier this month, the Council unanimously approved holding the special election, but a separate vote and public hearing is required to approve the funding. It will take place in the City Council chambers at City Hall at 8:00 pm.

BevCam (Comcast Channel 10) will carry this live.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Save Beverly on Facebook

If you, or your kids, are on Facebook, there is a Save Beverly Schools Facebook group. You can join it here and help get the word out to the Facebook generation.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Reconfiguration Committee Named

The Beverly Citizen reports that a nine-member committee comprised of one parent representative from each of the elementary schools, one community representative, one school committee member, and one city councilor has been named. The group, known as the Elementary School Reconfiguration Committee, is charged with examining in detail the Superintendent's plan to reconfigure the city's six elementary schools, and giving the School Committee its non-binding recommendation on the budget and reconfiguration plan.

School Committee President Annemarie Cesa said Hayes’ plan is the only one receiving serious consideration.

As the committee does its work, Cesa said the School Committee will continue to move forward with plans to implement Hayes’ plan. Hayes and other administrators will have to complete a large chunk of the work and determine which teachers would be laid off and how busing logistics would work out.

“He has to move forward in that way,” she said.

Committee nembers include:
  • School Committee: Jim Latter, chairman
  • City Council: Maureen Troubitaris
  • Ayers: Todd Rotondo
  • Cove: Steve Galante
  • Centerville: Mercene Perry
  • Hannah: Suzanne Beaudoin
  • North Beverly: Mary Morency
  • McKeown: Kim Sammons
  • Community representative: Mike Tallo


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Investing in a Strong Community

The Yes! for Beverly group has updated their website with some new information supporting the Proposition 2½ override effort. If you haven't looked at it recently, please check it out, particularly the new section titled "Why Beverly's Worth the Investment". You can also download an override fact sheet here.

Some of the points worth noting:
  • Proposition 2½: Implemented in 1982, the law caps real estate tax increases at 2.5% per year plus additional taxes from new development. The cap does not adjust even when expenses (energy, salaries, healthcare, state mandates, etc.) rise at a higher rate. In recent years, reductions in state aid coupled with fixed expenses rising beyond the 2.5% rate limit have created a structural deficit in Beverly and many other Massachusetts communities. Voters are allowed under the law to approve additional taxes to close this deficit by overriding the 2.5% cap.

  • Beverly's School Budget: Beverly faces the same issues impacting all Massachusetts communities. State aid has decreased, while operating costs and unfunded state and federal mandates have increased. Beverly has already cut dozens of classroom teachers, increased class sizes, added school fees, and closed Memorial Middle School to avoid an override. In FY09, Beverly voters now face a choice of cutting public education services further or supporting an override to close a $2.6 million budget gap for its public schools.

  • Beverly’s First Operational Override: Should the override pass, it will be the first time since the law went into effect 25 years ago that Beverly has increased revenues for operations by more than the Proposition 2½ cap. Two-thirds of Massachusetts towns have already approved operational overrides, some multiple times. At $10.40/thousand, Beverly’s tax rates are lower than Swampscott ($13.63), Wenham ($12.92), and Salem ($11.67).

  • Educational Costs: According to the Massachusetts Dept. of Education’s 2007 figures, Beverly's per pupil expenditure was $11,210.67, which is below the state average of $11,864.91. Beverly spends less than Salem ($13,665), Manchester/Essex ($12,865), Lynn ($12,220), Chelsea ($12,199), and Hamilton Wenham ($12,100).

They also include quotes from the Superintendent and School Committee President:

“Over the past few years the Beverly Public Schools have faced difficult challenges, such as the closing of Memorial Middle School and the addition of many new fees. We have struggled to maintain programming, which has been challenging with dramatically rising costs in Special Education, utilities, and Health Care. I believe that without additional funds the cuts next year will be severe and irreversible. With an override, the school district can develop a plan for a future configuration that will be sustainable and appropriate. As an educator, parent, and School Committee President we need to show the community how much we value education here in Beverly.”
—School Committee President Annemarie Cesa


“The citizens of Beverly need to know that we are at a crossroads. Over the last several years we have chipped away and chipped away at the kind of education we should be providing the children of Beverly. The professionals we employ have done their best to adapt what they do with the resources they have and have “made it work.” We can make this reconfiguration work, too, but it will not be easy, and Beverly will not be providing the quality of education we aspire to. That difference in quality has a direct correlation to the perceived quality of a community. And that has a direct impact on all Beverly citizens. If you think these cuts to education don’t affect you, you are wrong. Yes, it costs a lot to educate a child; it costs even more if you don’t.”
—Superintendent Dr. James Hayes

Please go to yesforbeverly.org to read more or download a fact sheet here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More Q & A with Dr. Hayes

The School Committee and Dr. Hayes held another public meeting last night to respond to questions submitted from the public. Sixty-nine specific questions were answered in detail in this prepared handout, and then summarized by Hayes and the panel.

Points of note were:
  • Hannah, as well as Cove, is still being considered as the site for the ECC. In the handout, Hayes confirmed that Mayor Scanlon was considering having the city pay the estimated $700,000 cost of adding the two classrooms that would be necessary for Hannah to work as the ECC. The city would bond the construction costs over several years.
  • The first cut to be restored should more funding be found would be the four-person team at Briscoe
  • The school committee voted to form a parent and community panel to study the details of the plan and make a report within 3 weeks
  • Hayes and the School Committee will present two final budgets by May 21, one with some form of the consolidation plan should the Override fail, and one with the current configuration should the Override pass
You can read more about the meeting here.

4/28 UPDATE: This Document was updated today with new responses from Mayor Scanlon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Class Sizes Compared

The Salem News has a revealing article today that compares the average elementary school class size (grade 1-5 average) under Dr. Hayes proposal with other area cities and towns. It shows that Beverly's classes are already signifcantly larger than those cities, and under the new plan will jump dramatically higher.

Here are the statistics:
  • Salem: 18.6
  • Peabody: 20.5
  • Danvers: 20.8
  • Beverly (current): 22.6
  • Beverly (under redistricting plan): 26.6
You can read the entire story here:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Scanlon Urges Study Group

In an address to the City Council last night, Mayor Scanlon suggested that a community study group be formed to work out the details of Dr. Hayes proposal, including looking at the best use for each of the six current elementary schools. He also suggested studying how one additional classroom for grades 3, 4 & 5 could be added back in to the plan to reduce projected class sizes in those grades. The Beverly Citizen has a wrapup of the address here. This should be discussed in more detail at tomorrow night's public school committee meeting.

4/24 UPDATE: You can download the text of the Mayor's speech here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Important Upcoming Dates

Monday, April 14
Special City Council Meeting
Beverly City Hall, 3rd Floor, 8:30 PM

  • Mayor Scanlon will address the Council
  • BevCam (Comcast Channel 10) will televise live


Wednesday, April 16
School Committee Public Meeting
Memorial Building, 501 Cabot St., 6:30 PM

  • The School Committee will answer questions about the current proposal.
  • Please submit questions to Dr. Hayes at jim.hayes@beverlyschools.org or Annemarie Cesa at momcesa@comcast.net by Tuesday 4/15 by 8 a.m.
  • BevCam (Comcast Channel 10) will televise live


Monday, April 28
Public Hearing on funding the special election
Beverly City Hall, 3rd Floor, 8:00 PM


Tuesday, June 3
Special Override Election

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Two-Pronged Strategy

Dr. Hayes has posted a note (reprinted below) on the district website that commends the city council for approving the Prop 2½ Override election, but also points out that the school committee still needs to approve a budget under the current funding in the event that the override doesn't pass.

There are opportunities next week for people to get involved on both fronts.

Sunday night
is an organizational meeting for Yes! for Beverly. All those willing and able to volunteer their time and talents to help get the word out and pass the override are urged to attend.

Wednesday night is another Public Meeting with Dr. Hayes and the School Committee. This is one more chance to bring your questions and creative ideas on the budget to the table in a public forum.

Details on both of these meetings, as well as other upcoming events, are in the post above.

Next Steps for FY09 Budget

The Public Meeting held on April 1st to discuss the proposals I made to close the $2.67 million shortfall for FY09 was a great opportunity for community input to a major decision affecting the whole City. I have prepared a document which responds to the questions and comments presented that evening. It is important to me that citizens be as informed as possible, so I hope you will take the time to read my April 1st response as well as other documents on our Administration webpage.

The recent decision by the City Council to hold an election on June 3rd for an override of Prop 2½ is a historic step for the City of Beverly. It gives the voters a direct say in the future of their school system and their community in general.

Moving forward, I believe the School Committee needs to plan for two scenarios, one based on the current revenue projection and one based on the additional $2.5 million that would come to the schools through a successful override vote. I will be preparing two such budgets for their consideration and will ask that they approve budgets for both scenarios by mid-May. Once an override vote is taken we will be ready regardless of which way the vote goes. In addition, I believe the Committee needs to decide as soon as possible its position on the reconfiguration of the elementary schools. Parents, students, and staff are anxious about their uncertain future, and the sooner we can take definitive steps the better for all involved.

As always, if you have any questions about our schools, please do not hesitate to contact a building principal or central office administrator. To contact the Superintendent's Office, you may call 978-921-6100 or email me at jim.hayes@beverlyschools.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Jim Hayes
Superintendent of Schools

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wicked Local Discussion

There is a pretty lively conversation about the override going on over at the Beverly Citizen's online forum, Wicked Local Beverly. Plenty of views on both sides of the issue. Go there, and make sure the views of parents are fairly represented.

The Salem News also has a couple going on here and here.

Another Chance to Query School Budget

Beverly School Committee Chairperson Annemarie Cesa would like to inform parents, PTOs, and the public that there will be an additional opportunity for the public to have any remaining questions answered regarding the school budget, school related changes or topics.

All questions need to be submitted in advance to Dr. Hayes or Annemarie Cesa.
The public meeting will be
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
Memorial Building, 501 Cabot St.

All questions are due to Dr. Hayes at jim.hayes@beverlyschools.org or Annemarie Cesa at momcesa@comcast.net by Tuesday 4/15 by 8 a.m.

Note: Be sure to read Dr. Hayes' response to last week's public meeting. This is a 7 page document with answers to the many questions that were posed during the public meeting held at the BHS auditorium.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Override Election Approved

On Monday night, Beverly’s City Council voted to place the override question on the ballot.

The YES! FOR BEVERLY group will hold an organizational meeting this coming Sunday night, April 13, at 7:30 pm at the First Baptist Church gym, 221 Cabot Street, Beverly.

This is a meeting for people who are willing to work to make the override a reality. YES! FOR BEVERLY urges you to attend and to invite anyone you know who is willing to pitch in to make sure a Prop. 2½ override is approved.

Visit the YES! FOR BEVERLY web site for more details, or contact Joan Sullivan at info@yesforbeverly.org to volunteer.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dr. Hayes Responds to Public Meeting Comments

Dr. Hayes has just issued this document to address many of the questions and comments from last Tuesday night's Public Meeting.

Council Will Approve Override Vote

The Salem News reports today that all nine city councilors say that they will vote in favor of allowing a special Proposition 2½ Override election. The council meeting starts tonight at 7:00 and will be televised by BevCam on Comcast Channel 10.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Keep the Momentum Going! Tomorrow!


For Beverly residents who support holding a special election for a Proposition 2 ½ override, the YES! FOR BEVERLY group is looking for folks to collect signatures tomorrow (Saturday), April 5, at the following locations:

  • Shaw’s
  • Stop & Shop (N. Beverly)
  • Stop & Shop (Elliott St)
  • Henry’s (N. Beverly)
  • Dunkin Donuts (Bev. Farms)
  • Beverly Post Office (Prides)
  • Beverly Post Office (Rantoul)
Go to the YES! FOR BEVERLY web site to get more information, or contact Joan Sullivan at info@yesforbeverly.org to sign up for collecting signatures.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Bit of Good News...

...on a related issue:

The Salem News reports that the Massachusetts School Building Authority voted in favor of the design of the new high school yesterday. According to Mayor Scanlon "This removes any doubt regarding the project being eligible for reimbursement," although he added "The detail of how much remains to be negotiated."

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

BevCam Schedule

If you missed Monday night's public meeting, BevCam will be replaying it on the following days:
  • Thursday, 4/3 at 1:00 PM
  • Saturday, 4/5 at 3:30 PM
  • Monday, 4/7 at 11:00 AM
  • Monday, 4/14 at 11:00 AM

Below is a YouTube video of the opening remarks from Maura Gotsch, the Cove School Citywide PTO Rep. The text of her remarks are here.

Ask The Governor

Tune in, or better yet, call in to “Ask the Governor” with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on WTKK (96.9 FM), tomorrow (Thursday), April 3 between 1 and 2 p.m. They will broadcast live with Governor Patrick, and take listener questions.

Could be a good opportunity to let the Governor know what you think about the $2.67 school budget shortfall, and ask him what the state can do to help alleviate the budget deficit in Beverly and other such communities in Massachusetts.

So Now What?

Here is the Salem News coverage of last night's meeting. Keep an eye on the Press Coverage section to the left. We'll keep that updated with the latest news.

Please post your thoughts about the meeting, and where we should go from here:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Study Materials for Tonight

Here is the handout Dr. Hayes has prepared for tonight's meeting.

Response from Dr. Hayes

Dr Hayes has responded to the list of questions submitted to him from the parents group that met last Friday. Here are his answers:

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?
The School Committee can do just as you suggest. It is something that I have seen school committees talk about from time to time over the past nine years, but they have never done so. Let’s assume that the School Committee does approve a budget higher than its available revenue. Let’s also assume that the Mayor includes in his budget proposal to the City Council an appropriation for the schools equal to a budget balanced figure, less than what the SC approved. The City Council could then increase the amount for the school appropriation to the level that the School Committee approved. Since the City Council must approve a balanced budget, they would need to recommend cuts elsewhere in the City budget or send it back to the Mayor for him to prepare a new proposal that is balanced.

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?
We would work to begin the alternative school at McKeown for the start of the school year. As for initial staffing, we would reassign one SPED teacher from Briscoe and a second from BHS. We cannot merely assign students to McKeown. Their assignment would have to be the result of a team meeting, including staff and parents that would determine that the McKeown School would be the best placement for the child. This makes it hard to pinpoint an initial enrollment, though we have some estimate that there will be such placements. We have had discussions with the Northshore Education Consortium over the past several years about the need for such a program and the possibility of a partnership to provide services. They are very interested in working with us to develop this alternative school concept, and some staffing can come from this. Additional staffing will be offset by the reduced out-of-district tuitions – meeting student needs through an in-district program rather through paying higher out-of-district tuitions. We believe that while it would not cost us anything, it may take a year to become revenue generating, mostly because of the IEP / team meeting point made earlier. There is a strong possibility of rental income, however, even in the first year if the Consortium occupies some McKeown space.

What is the plan for next year when we are again faced with double digit increases in utilities, health insurance and special education?
There is no doubt that the measures taken this year reduce our expenses moving forward. However, if nothing changes, expenses will continue to rise faster than revenues. Things that will help us in balancing future budgets include: revenues from the McKeown Alternative School; lower expenses in the custodial function due to outsourcing; lower expenses in health care if the City is able to switch to the state’s GIC plan; savings through renewable energy (solar & wind) associated with the HS construction project, if the Mayor is successful in upgrading; in utilities, if the energy audit currently being conducted produces tangible steps for cost reduction.

What are the benefits of a dedicated Early Childhood Center as opposed to the current model?
  • Full program is administered by one administrator who is expert in this field.
  • Improves consistency of program implementation.
  • The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) promotes the need for a program that is comprehensive, guided by sound practices.
  • Research shows that strong consistent programming at this age results in fewer referrals for special education, retentions, failing classes later in career, greater social and emotional maturity throughout their career and greater academic success (Bercutte/Clement 1985).
  • NAEYC accreditation will be more easily achieved with students in one center.
  • We can focus teacher preparation and support for programming that leads to integration of PK, K, and 1st grade programs.
  • Opportunity for PK/K and K/1 transitional programming without moving students from center.
  • Integration of special education with regular education is more easily achieved.
  • Greater ability for flexible grouping of students (providing for individual needs) to utilize staff to capacity.
  • Travel time is eliminated as well as competing concerns for meetings and staff needs.
  • The proposal keeps us in compliance with IEP’s.
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?
The slide was provided during a presentation by a reputable organization that we often work with, Research for Better Teaching. However, I do not believe they were the source of the information. I do not disagree with you about the research and the importance of class size. It does make a difference, and I do not look forward to the class sizes I propose, most especially at the middle school. My point with that slide was more to say that class size is not the sole determinant of a successful learning experience. The quality of teaching and the quality of parental support/involvement are just more important factors. I think if you look at the research, there is little to say that classes of 26 are much different from those of 30 students. The research targets class sizes lower than where our classes are today. Only several years ago, the district used class size guidelines of no more than 22 in grades 1-2 and no more than 25 in grades 3-5. Those were better positioned to make a difference. I don't plan to use that slide again and will make my point in different ways in the future.

There are many statistics cited throughout the proposal. Can we please have more details on the sources for this information?
If you could be more specific, I’d be happy to provide an answer.

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.?
What is shown on slide 15 is simply a list of all that we have examined over the past six years or so in an attempt to reorganize the elementary program to provide the same program at a reduced cost. Those attempts were never approved because they presented logistical issues that could not be overcome and/or because they produced a small amount of “savings” in comparison to the change that would be implemented. The proposal before the School Committee was never considered in the past. We always knew there was money to be saved in this problem but only this year did we find a solution that preserved program, did not present logistical programs, and which greatly reduced costs. I expect to provide more information about other ways to reduce costs before tomorrow evening. As for the ones you have suggested: Memorial is a money-maker, generating over $300,000 in revenue annually; peer models must be provided – it is not a choice we make; cuts to administrators and staff over the years have left us with a skeleton crew that works way over-and-above to make the system work to its best advantage for our children – to ask this and even more next year for no increase in salary would make a difficult year even worse.

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?
Preschool classes are not only full; we have a waiting list for peer models. We are required by law to service special needs students after 3 years of age. Special needs students often require an integrated program that includes typical peers (Department of Education regulations). Approximately 50% of preschool students are special education students. Cove School has room and capacity to grow if needed; an Early Childhood Center at Hannah would not. Tuition for preschool doesn’t cover the full cost since we have to offer scholarships (DOE regulations).

What are the School Choice costs and revenues we are realizing?
I have attached a document which shows the history of school choice in Beverly. The revenue that comes in is school revenue that we have included in our budget proposal. The expense that is paid out is included in the City’s budget, and is later defined as an “indirect cost” that the City is paying for education.

Given the scope of Special Education and the enormous costs involved, can we see a very detailed breakdown of this line item?
On our website, I have placed the most recent budget proposal for FY09. On page 26 of that report you can see the detail of the expenses, including some historical data.

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?
We have reviewed all the IEP’s in our elementary district programs and those students whose IEP’s involve significant integration into the regular classroom are included in our enrollments and class size projections. I am not sure what you mean by “safety and space issues”; if you mean for SPED students in classrooms with larger class sizes, there are none.

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?
The projected enrollment for the foreseeable future shows a slight decline in our elementary population. Our planning estimates incorporate the typical transitions that we see. Much of the parochial in-flow comes as students move to middle and high school.

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?
I have not developed the grants revenue page for FY09 because we have yet to receive any information on what funding levels we could expect. I have attached several pages from our FY08 budget showing the grants picture as of last spring. You will see that we use nearly $5 million in grants to provide essential services throughout our district programs. On balance, that total will probably not change appreciably, some moving up slightly while others moving downward.

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?
Consolidation allows for using less staff. Opportunities exist for teachers to do flexible grouping as well as paraprofessionals. Classroom teachers are the primary reading teachers. Reading teachers provide the ability to staff the 3-tier model and do small group instruction and help with using the data to make educational decisions; they are part of the team. The implementation of the 3-tier model includes providing small group instruction in the regular classroom and changing instruction, not sending students out to be serviced. We can still provide this model as we will have one Reading teacher per building. We will be in compliance with IEP’s as special education teachers work with regular education teachers and paraprofessionals to deliver service – it is a team approach.

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?
Logistics will be handled by administrators in their individual buildings. I am sure they will find solutions to whatever they encounter (lunches, assemblies, etc.). Any changes in parking needs can be absorbed. The schools are built to accommodate the numbers of students planned, and we will be able to provide a safe environment for all. There is nothing in this that relates to any insurance. As for any renovations, there are none projected for Cove as an ECC. Hannah as an ECC would require a minimum of two additional classrooms – construction on that site while school is in session would present some safety issues; however, construction on active school sites is not something new, and contractors and the district would have to plan to ensure safety. There may be some minimal plumbing changes at Hannah to make it an ECC.

What would the cost be to climate all bussing? How much could be saved in consolidating services?
I believe you mean “eliminate”, not “climate”. Under state law we must provide free transportation to all students K (half-day only) through grade 6. We charge fees for all other riders. Since you need to transport grade 6, you might as well transport grades 7 & 8. The fees we collect go a long way to offsetting our transportation costs. In sum, eliminating busing is not an answer. A joint School Committee / City Council committee on consolidation of services is expected to finalize its report in the near future. While it may make recommendations for improving services and working together, I don’t believe it will identify any area where significant savings can be achieved.

At Briscoe Middle School, we just reconfigured the teaching teams. What is the educational impact of doing this again?
The proposal I have submitted retains the team approach. Nothing changes in grade 6. Class size increases in grades 7 and 8, but there is no change to the teaming model.

Can we get a detailed breakdown of the roles, responsibilities and salaries for each administrative position (Supervisors, Directors, Clerks, etc.)
This information is no easy format that I could provide to you in a timely fashion. I believe your request may be aimed at ways we could reduce our expenses for the administration function. As noted previously, cuts to administrators and staff over the years have left us with a skeleton crew that works way over-and-above to make the system work to its best advantage for our children. We are a $50 million dollar operation with 4,600 students and over 700 employees that needs to manage its financial, personnel, special education, and support functions to the best advantage of students and to ensure that the district meet all obligations and comply in a timely fashion with all the laws and regulations placed upon us. I have not included administrative cuts in my budget proposal for FY09, but I will share with the School Committee places it could consider cuts if it felt it necessary.