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.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Scanlon: State to Raise Cap on High School

Mayor Scanlon reported to the City Council on Monday night that the Massachusetts School Building Authority has agreed to raise the ceiling on the High School project to $81.5 million. The State is expected to pay 56.42% of the cost of the project, meaning that the city will "get an $81.5 million high school at a cost of $33.7 million to the city," according to a story in Tuesday's Salem News.

The state had previously announced the reimbursement level of 56.42%, but had capped the project cost at $75 million, or nearly $8 million short of the current price tag.

The News story further states that "
Scanlon said the City Council must approve the $81.5 million cost by Oct. 27, which is the deadline for the city to award the construction contract to one of the four bidders. If the city does not meet that deadline, the contract must be put out to bid again and could end up costing the city more money"

While this would appear to be good news, the figures are unofficial until the Board's directors vote on them in November. Since the City Council has to approve borrowing the city's portion of the money by October 27th, before the State's contribution amount is official, this has raised concerns among some members of the Council.

The News' Heard in Beverly blog reports on a "Bizarre exchange" Monday night between Scanlon and Councilor Pat Grimes:

“You’re asking us to do this without the vote of the (MSBA) board,” Grimes said.

“It’s not our business and I don’t think it’s your business to ask how that board works,” Scanlon said.

When Grimes said she would like to see written confirmation of the MSBA’s commitment before she votes to borrow the money, Scanlon said it was “absolutely bizarre” that Grimes would think that he wouldn’t do just that.

Grimes fought back, saying, “I take offense at you saying it’s bizarre.”

John Burke agreed with Grimes, saying her questioning was legitimate and should not be considered a “personal comment” on Scanlon.

10/9 UPDATE: Today's Salem News outlines Scanlon's plan to pay for the debt service on the high school. It also reports that there will be a public hearing on the matter on October 20th at 7:15 at City Hall.

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