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.