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, July 7, 2008

Salem News Outs Martin for Choicing Out

Today's Salem News has a front-page story on City Councilor Don Martin, confirming that the Councilor school choices his children out of Beverly Schools. During the recent budget debate, Martin was the most consistent voice against the schools, opposing the transfer of $680,000 to support the 5-school plan, opposing the trash fee, and was the lone vote against the final school budget. Martin also was behind the move that some saw as a ploy to get the trash fee eliminated entirely by questioning the vote of his own Finance Committee, thereby delaying a vote by the entire Council on the fee, which is a key element in the sustainability of the school budget.

Two years ago, Martin was also one of only two councilors to oppose the new high-school. He didn't take a public position on the override, stating "On this particular issue I’m going to keep my decision private...I don’t think it makes a difference how any particular councilor is voting."

Some excerts from the News story:

Martin said his priority is to protect his own children, but he has always been "upfront and honest" with people when the subject of school choice comes up.

"I haven't hidden anything. I've got nothing to hide," he said. "I got 75 percent of the vote last year, the biggest margin of victory of any ward councilor race."

[Former McKeown PTO President Julie] DeSilva said it's difficult to interpret Martin's decision to opt out as anything but a vote against the city's public schools.

"As a parent you have to look out for your own kids," she said, "but as a city official you have to look out for all of the community's kids."

Martin said the bottom line is that he and his wife, Michele, have to do what is best for their children.

"We will always put our children first," he said. "That's the way it has to be."

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