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 15, 2009

Parents Speak Out on FY10 Budget

With little of the drama of last year's budget process, parents spoke out about the FY10 budget Wednesday night at North Beverly School.

While relieved that the process seems to be going much smoother this year, parents still had their concerns.

Parent Julie DeSilva, former president of the now closed McKeown school, spoke for many. "Compared to last year, do a few big classes look as bad as losing a school? No. But it's a bad trend. All the numbers are going in the wrong direction."

Yesterday's Salem News had details from the meeting.

Class sizes were the primary focus of their concern. A proposed first-grade classroom of 24 students and a fifth-grade classroom of 29 are each just one student away from the maximum set by the School Committee.

Parents urged [Superintendent Jim] Hayes to rethink those classes, saying, even if they're not yet over the maximum, it still puts a strain on teachers.

"The demands on your average teacher have increased," DeSilva said.

Mother Corinne Eanes said her daughter would be in the crowded fifth-grade class.

"All it takes is that one child who needs that extra attention to pull away from the other 28 kids," she said. "I really believe 29, and 24 for the first-graders, is way too many."

Among the positive developments, according to Hayes were "plans to reinstate the instrumental music program in the elementary schools, to add a part-time reading specialist at Cove Elementary School, to add a nurse assistant so the nurse supervisor can focus on professional medical development, which has become more of a need in the school system, and to expand technology support roles."