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.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Question of Semantics

On a slow news day, we will once again question why the two plans have been described in the press, and even by the School Committee and Superintendent as a "4-school plan vs. a 5-school plan" when both are really 5-school plans. We've even done it ourselves. Some may think this is a frivolous argument, but often perception is reality. If you read the newspaper comment boards (do so with caution, it's often a frightening and eye-opening experience, especially if you have been sheltered within your group of like-minded allies) you will see how much of a misperception there is over this. And you can bet this will be exploited by the anti-override group as well.

In Dr. Hayes' original plan, Cove was never slated to close, as is often stated. It was to become the ECC and house all the Pre-School and Kindergarten population. So it wasn't a 4-school plan. It was another variation of a 5-school plan. In the Mayor's plan, these kids will have to go back into the traditional elementary school model.

So the bottom line is that there would still be the same number of kids in the same 5 schools. The only difference is that the Mayor's plan costs at least $800,000 more, and completely shatters one school community. Average class sizes, the most important issue to most parents, would still be an issue, unless the Kindergarten or Preschool offerings were limited, or something else is cut. Either way, we are squeezing 6 schools worth of kids into 5.

Most everyone seriously following this knows most of these details, but to the casual observer or citizen undecided on the Override, all they hear is that the Mayor's plan closes only 1 school, while the Superintendent's plan closes 2. "That sounds like a good compromise, right? Why do we need the Override?"

That's how some in the community at large are seeing this, and it's partially due to how the plans have been presented. While there might be other factors that make one plan better than the other, presenting it as a choice of 4 schools or 5 schools is very misleading.

The only numbers we have seen so far are in this document that Dr. Hayes prepared the night Mayor Scanlon announced his plan. His estimates are admittedly very rough, but they seem to back up the argument that class sizes will still be a problem.

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