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.

Monday, May 5, 2008

We're in Good Company

Boston.com has a blog called Override Central that is following the override drives in more than 30 other Greater Boston communities that are facing situations similar to Beverly. Many of these cities and towns have also been forced to seek an override, as the only method left to properly fund their public school systems, and avoid serious cuts. Included is a link to a Globe story on the 11 communities on the North Shore alone that are seeking overrides. Many of the arguments are very familiar to those of us closely involved in Beverly's school budget crisis:
  • With health insurance, special education, and other costs increasing at a rate unmatched by state aid, communities across the state are scheduling tax increase votes.—Boston Globe
  • "Costs - particularly benefits - are growing faster than revenues, while state aid hasn't kept up with inflation. Most cities and towns have squeezed where they can, and then some. I think we will see more and more communities hit the wall in the years ahead."—Michael Widmer, executive director of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, commenting on the situation in Brookline

  • "It's the unfunded mandates [such as the No Child Left Behind Act and special education requirements] that really do it."— Wenham Selectman Peter Hersee

You might also want to follow the situation in Hamilton/Wenham, where the state just placed their highly-regarded high school on warning status because of an "inadequate level of funding to support the school's staffing levels, course offerings, co-curricular activities and technology." This, in spite of approving overrides for the past seven years. The Hamilton/Wenham Support Our Schools group also has a blog with very detailed information on their budget issues, many of which are the same ones that Beverly is grappling with.

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