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 22, 2008

Reaction to Mayor Scanlon's Statements

By now most of you have read about the School Committee meeting Tuesday night and their vote to approve the Mayor's 5-school plan.

We are posting this at the request of many people who are active in the school communities and within the budget debate, and we share their views.

Regardless of how you feel about the merits of the plan that was approved, many of us are deeply troubled by the actions of Mayor Scanlon, particularly his statements that he would release additional funds, only if his plan was approved. We find this offensive and feel that it is unethical at best.

If there is additional funding available, shouldn't the whole Committee and the Superintendent be allowed to discuss and decide the best way to spend it? Who is better suited to make the tough educational decisions for our school system?: Dr Hayes, a man with a doctorate in educational administration who has years of teaching and administrative experience to back up his plan, or the Mayor with no background as an educator.

We are also troubled by the lack of specifics on the plan that was approved, and whether this additional funding can be counted on for the next five years.

Since this affects city financing issues and the conduct of a public official, we feel that it is a matter that should be brought to the attention of the City Council. Many of the Council members were at Tuesday night's meeting, so they are well aware of what went on, but they need to hear your views, and know what a serious concern this is to all of us.

If you feel the same, please contact your city councilors and tell them how you feel. Keep in mind that it's always best to put your views into your own words.

8:30 AM UPDATE: Today's Salem News has an interesting legal opinion on this matter.

The paper interviews Glenn Koocher, the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. While Koocher says he believes Scanlon has the legal right to do what he did, he also adds that these types of stipulations are not legally binding.

"Once the extra money is included in the school budget, the School Committee could decide to spend it any way it wants," he said.

The committee, however, would have to be "willing to accept the political implications" of voting for one plan and then implementing another.

This might be interesting information to share with your School Committee Rep.

The paper also has an editorial today titled "Beverly's Imperial Mayor Returns"

2 comments:

B.G. Lewandowski said...

As of this morning I have not heard any information from the emails I sent yesterday to the Committee members. Karen Fogarty did write to say she would be getting back to me... the Mayor sent a short note to clarify his final number and still there is no evidence that anyone has seen any solid numbers before they voted on the "recycling" plan. Updates hopefully will follow...

B.G. Lewandowski said...

Just got this email from the Mayor in response to me asking what he presented to show how his plan works for the schools:

"Brian:

I am sure the superintendent is continuing to work on his budget. I have nothing to add.

Bill Scanlon"


Yikes! Sounds like they really did vote on a promise.