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.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Committee Approves 5-School Plan

After two hours of fuzzy math and talk about the minutia of bus routes and "soft" redistricting lines, and without any consensus on the cost or workability of Mayor Scanlon's 5-school plan, the Committee moved quickly and nonetheless approved the plan by a 5-2 vote with only President Annemarie Cesa and David Manzi voting against the plan.

A crowd of nearly 100 squeezed into a small classroom at the former Memorial Middle School, in what several audience members joked felt like "what our elementary classrooms would be like next year." For two hours both plans were discussed, and members debated the numbers of each, discussed what bus routes would have to be divised, how city-wide any redistricting plan would have to be, and seemed to be making little headway on either plan.

Scanlon then spoke up, and told the committee that with more than $60 million spent on education in Beverly annually, that debating a hundred-thousand dollar difference in transportation costs was foolhardy at this stage, and pushed the Committee to vote.

The Committee obligued, with Jim Latter first moving to vote on Dr. Hayes' 4-school plan, which the Committee voted down 3-4

Latter then moved to vote on Mayor Scanlon's 5-school plan. The committee quickly approved the plan 5-2 and adjourned, leaving the crowd stunned.

Just prior to the vote, David Manzi asked Mayor Scanlon if the additional funds he made available for his 5-school plan, could be used instead for the 4-school plan as a way to help reduce class sizes. Scanlon answered "No" followed by "I have no time for the 4-school plan" "I am opposed to the 4-school plan." This caused the capacity crowd to gasp in outrage, but the Committee moved immediately to vote.

The votes for both plans were as follows:

Dr. Hayes' 4 School Plan:
  • David Manzi: Yes
  • Paul Manzo: No
  • Jim Latter: Yes
  • Karen Fogarty: No
  • Annemarie Cesa: Yes
  • Maria Decker: No
  • Mayor Scanlon: No

Mayor Scanlon's 5 School Plan

  • David Manzi: No
  • Paul Manzo: Yes
  • Jim Latter: Yes
  • Karen Fogarty: Yes
  • Annemarie Cesa: No
  • Maria Decker: Yes
  • Mayor Scanlon: Yes

The meeting was NOT filmed by BevCam, as previously reported, and as specifically requested to Ms. Cesa by us and many in the community.

There was a lot to digest tonight. We will post press accounts and further details in the morning, but if you were there tonight, please help us out and add more details below as a comment.

5/21 UPDATE: Wednesday's Salem News reports on the meeting, leading with: "Though critics called his tactics "disgusting" and akin to "larceny," Mayor Bill Scanlon won the School Committee's approval of his elementary school consolidation plan to close McKeown and keep Cove open.

The Beverly Citizen also has stories here and here, as well as an opinion piece.


L Mcgraw said...

Thanks so much for posting this information so quickly. I have an injured child at home - so I could not attend and have been checking this site every 1/2 hour. I did receive a call from someone after the meeting ended too.

I see the votes.. How can Jim Latter vote for 2 of the plans? Does that mean that the commitee could also have voted for none?

I hope that the redistrict plan for the whole city not just placing McKewon is used (override or not.) It has to be done that way to at least spread the impact on everyone and keep us all seeing this as a community endeavor not just McKewon's problem.

Is it clear that if the override does go through that the plan voted upon will NOT be implemented? The vote was taken "in case" measure?

Anonymous said...

Can we all write to the Mayor to see his numbers and how they add up? I am am very worried that we will be sitting here next year with the saveourbeverlyschools.org2 site.

Jim Hayes was always kind enough to put his numbers on the table.

Anonymous said...

I also just asked the school committee members to possibly send me the numbers they had on the Mayor's plan to see who they add up and if they are correct. I would encourage all of you to do the same. I would assume there is lots of information available to show how everyone was able to vote for this plan.

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