Under a Massachusetts State law known as Proposition 2½, each year Beverly ’s City Council can only raise the amount of taxes to be collected by up to 2.5%, plus a factor for new growth. Voters must approve increases of more than 2.5%.
On average, inflation has outpaced 2.5%, leaving communities with less spending power each year. In addition, Beverly faces other issues that are impacting all Massachusetts communities. State aid has decreased while operating costs and unfunded state and federal mandates have increased. Average inflation of 3% in recent years has also increased costs. Beverly has cut dozens of teachers, increased class sizes, added school fees, and closed Memorial Middle School to avoid an override.
For FY09, special education, utility and health care are the largest cost drivers. Special education tuition out-of-district is projected to cost $1.6 million ($953,000 was covered in FY08 by a budget surplus and state aid that was reassigned from FY07). Utilities are projected to increase by $271,977 (21%) and health insurance by $400,000 (7%) - totaling $2.3 million in increases.
In FY09, Beverly voters now face a choice of cutting public education services further or supporting an override with less drastic cuts to close a $2.6 million budget gap for its public schools. A YES vote will help us stop the continual erosion of our schools, allowing us to preserve and protect the services in Beverly for which we as a community are so proud.
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.