After a dizzying night that saw the debate on the two plans drag on seemingly endlessly with no resolution—then move at lightning speed to a conclusion, we have a few thoughts. (Note: details of the meeting are in the post below)
After nearly two months of analysis on Dr. Hayes' plan by the public, the School Committee, and an ad-hoc group, the Committee has now approved a different plan that has only been known of for a week. A plan with virtually no study as to the implications, feasibility, or true cost savings. And a plan that the Superintendent clearly opposes, and has had no time to make any plan for implementation. The debate last night added no clarity at all.
In the end, as the best of bad options, Scanlon's plan just might be "less bad" than the Superintendent's plan. But with what citizens heard last night, there is still not enough information to know that, and there certainly was not enough information for the Committee to have voted it in as the future of education in Beverly, should the Override fail.
Also, we take issue with the semantics of the portrayal of this as "the 4-school plan vs. the 5-school plan." Leaving the reuse of McKeown aside, in both cases McKeown is being eliminated as an elementary school, and Cove is being used to house children. In the Superintendent's plan, Cove houses only Pre-K and K, while in the Mayor's plan, those kids are divided up somehow (we don't know how) between the other schools and Cove stays an elementary school. But both plans use the same 5 schools, and house the same number of kids in those 5 schools. Therefore we assume both plans would have similar class size issues. Just do the math.
Presenting this as closing one school versus closing two schools is very misleading, especially to the public contemplating the Override. Who wouldn't pick the option to close only one school vs. two, if that was really what was happening. And many undecideds will see this as a positive step, and be less inclined to support the Override. Was that the Mayor's intention?
In reality, this is all the more reason to support the Override because of the chaos that implementiion of this vague plan will cause at this late date.
While the wisdom of the ECC model is questionable, Dr. Hayes' plan at least seemed carefully crafted to keep school communities as whole as possible, and spread the pain around. Mayor Scanlon's plan seems to only to be politically expedient, and inflicts much of the pain on one school community. His decision to take his money off the table and go home if the committee didn't approve his plan, was, in the words of one parent "akin to larceny."
We also would like to hear Jim Latter's explanation for supporting BOTH plans, and Ms. Cesa's explanation for not having this very important vote televised. BevCam says the decision was hers.
Please add to this debate by hitting the comment link below:
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.