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.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Councilors Still in Neutral

Today's Salem News states that all but two of the nine city councilors are remaining neutral, or say they are undecided on the Override. Mayor Scanlon has also said many times that he is neutral:

"I have been totally neutral on the override, and I remain so," Scanlon said. "I think that's the proper role for me to play."

Only John Burke (no), and Pat Grimes (yes) have taken a public position.

Some of their explanations are expanded upon in a new post on the News' Heard in Beverly Blog, although most stick with some variation of "it's the voter's decision":

“I think it’s up to the people to decide..."-Bill Coughlin

"...I will respect the voters’ decision."-Judith Cronin

"...Let the people decide which way they want to go..." -Tim Flaherty

"...I think every individual voter has to make up his or her own mind..."-Don Martin

Among the School Committee members, only Jim Latter has not publicly stated his position (see update and comment below). David Manzi is opposed, and the remaining four members all publicly are in support.

State Rep Mary Grant also has stated her support for the Override

Manzi is the only official to openly criticize the others for failing to take a position. "I really think we're elected to take positions," he said. "There are too many elected officials trying to walk the line, and that's the reason nothing gets done."

5/30 UPDATE: Jim Latter has posted a detailed comment below where he takes a strong stand in favor of the override.

Latter states "
I have concluded that the only way to avoid calamity in our school system over the next few years is to support the override on June 3"

Click on the comment link below, or the headline of this post to read.

1 comment:

Jim Latter said...

Why I'm voting yes

After looking at all the plans presented, and considering what is possible, and what is probable, I have concluded that the only way to avoid calamity in our school system over the next few years is to support the override on June 3. I appreciate the Mayor coming to the table with more funds, but even his offer of several hundred thousand dollars to keep the Pre K through 5 elementary model in 5 schools is not ultimately sustainable past next year. It is my opinion that if we close McKeown school for the 5 school model using every available revenue stream, we still need several hundred thousand dollars in other cuts ($250,000 to 400,000 anyway). We will be in a situation next year where the budget shortfall will still be in close to $1 million(if not more), we will not have realized the savings of the 4 and 1 ECC model, we will have used up any potential revenue streams from recycling. We will again be looking at slashing programs, or implementing more consolidation. If it is not the will of the School committee to implement the 4 and 1 plan recommended by the superintendent, the only viable option for the children of Beverly in general, and the children of the McKeown school in particular, not to have their elementary school careers disrupted numerous times is to vote yes on the override question on Tuesday June 3rd.

There are many unknowns in any budget cycle, and with important issues such as a self imposed tax increase, people look for guarantees, especially moving beyond next year as to where specific revenues from this ballot question will go. I know that all elected officials who have been asked have stated that if this override passes these funds will be made available for several years anyway. Such promises can seem fleeting, however, the one guarantee I can give is that if this override passes the quality of education over the next several years will be better than if it does not. If the override fails, the quality of education will be diminished, that I guarantee.

This is not an easy decision. As I have stated publicly before, there are many who believe they cannot afford even this modest increase, who will vote no on this question, and should not be chastised for this difficult decision. However, there are also those who feel that the investment in education is a most important endeavor, who will vote yes, and they should not be chastised either. We cannot look at paying taxes for education as an obligation to educate our own children that diminishes after our children have utilized public schools. Public education is an obligation due by all in our current society to this community’s young people, and this obligation is ongoing. At the end of the day, if we look at education as only a cost, we have already lost the battle. Public education is about an investment. It is about an investment in the future of this community and this society. I asked before that all please vote their conscience, I repeat that request, and thank you for taking a minute to share my thinking on the issue.

Jim Latter
Beverly School Committee, Ward 3
145 Park St
Beverly MA 01915
978 921 8874