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, November 19, 2009

High School Progressing



If you are interested in following the progess of the high school, the Superintendent's office is maintaining a great photo archive on Picasa that follows the progress of both the exterior and interior construction with monthly updates. Check it out.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Superintendent Search Focus Groups

The following notice is from School Commitee Vice-President Maria Decker:

The search for a new superintendent of schools is well underway. A very important part of the process is to solicit community input about the attributes, experiences, and desired goals for a new superintendent. This will be of valuable assistance to the School Committee and the Screening Committee as they select and interview the candidates.

Dr. Ken DeBenedictis, a search consultant with the New England School Development Council (NESDEC) will meet with interested staff, parents, and community members in focus groups. Participation in focus groups will require between 1 and 1 1/2 hours. The date and time is listed below. Everyone is welcome to attend and to participate in that meeting. No previous sign-up is required. Each person's contribution to the group is very important to the process.

Three Parent/Community Focus Groups will be held: on Thursday, December 3rd at 10:00am at the Senior Center on Colon Street; on Saturday, December 5th at 10 am in the Hannah School cafeteria; and on Saturday, December 5th at 2pm at the Hannah School cafeteria.

(Two Faculty/Staff Focus Groups will be held: on Tuesday, December 1st at 3:15pm in the Briscoe cafe and on Thursday, December 3rd at 2:30pm at the Senior Center on Colon Street.)

Focus groups are an important part of the search process because they are designed to obtain the input of teachers, support staff, administrators, parents and community members about the attributes, experience, and knowledge they believe the new superintendent should possess. The focus groups also provide an opportunity for participants to identify immediate tasks on which the new superintendent should concentrate.

The Beverly School Committee wants and values your opinions. We encourage you to attend and hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to participate.


11/19 UPDATE: The Schoo0l Committee is also looking for citizen volunteers to serve on the Finance and Facilities Committee and the Curriculum, Instruction and Student Life Committee.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sweep!

It was a great night for SBS favored candidates, as our picks won every race across the city, and the field of candidates put up by Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility (CFR) went down to resounding defeat.

Mayor Scanlon soundly defeated challenger John Burke by a margin of 60% to 40% in what some expected to be a closer race.

Former State Rep. Mike Cahill won the City Council Presidency by 76 votes over runner-up Paul Guanci who, along with Pat Grimes, won at-large seats on the Council. CFR leader Elliot Margolis managed only 24% of the vote citywide.

In the Ward 4 School Committee race Karen Fogarty trounced challenger Gail Burke (the other leader of CFR) by a margin of 65% to 35%.

And in the three contested ward Council races, incumbents Kevin Hobin and Judith Cronin, along with former School Committee member James Latter all won their races.

Congratulations to all on their victories.

The Salem News has all the final numbers here.

11/4 UPDATE: Today's Salem News has a package of stories on the election, including Scanlon's win, Cahill's win, Burke's loss, and the other races.

Get Out and Vote

Today is the day. If you are undecided, there is plenty of information and links in the posts below to help you decide. This is expected to be a very close election, so every vote counts.

Here is a list of polling places.

4:30 UPDATE: The Salem News will be posting election results here, as they come in tonight.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Most Officials Support Scanlon

While most elected officials are off the record on their views in the Mayor's race, it seems that most unofficially support Mayor Scanlon's reelection. Excerpts of a few key endorsements, or near-endorsements follow:

School Committee President Annemarie Cesa, in an email to school advocates yesterday stated:

John Burke and I began our terms in office on the same day in 2004. In the ensuing six years I have attended a myriad number of City Council meetings to make sure that I have had accurate and necessary information so as to make informed decisions for the Beverly Public Schools. How many School Committee meetings has John Burke attended over that time? Not one. ... John Burke says that he supports education in Beverly. He has had 6 years to show any interest, and that hasn't happened. ... When you vote on November 3rd, vote smart and vote for Bill Scanlon.

Ward Two Councilor Wes Slate was the first City Councilor to publicly endorse Scanlon, saying

"Unlike his opponent whom I know well and have served with for these past two years, Mayor Scanlon is a proven leader, someone whose support is City-wide and not focused on pockets of voters in particular areas."

We take Bill Coughlin's A+ rating and Paul Guanci's A rating of the Mayor's performance as endorsements, as well as current City Council President Tim Flaherty's statement in today's Salem News that

voters who don't like Scanlon will have to decide if they want to risk turning over the city to "an inexperienced individual." "A lot will come down to, are people going to make their decision based on who will be the best mayor, or are they making a decision because they don't like Bill's personality?"

While it's easy to look at the archives of this site and find many statements from officials and school advocates critical of Scanlon's style of management, it doesn't seem like any of that is translating into support for Burke. In fact, we have not heard a single endorsement of Burke from any elected city official.

Still, his grassroots support is strong, as a survey of yard signs in the city will show, and as today's Salem News story reports, an upset is clearly possible.

Make sure you get out and vote tomorrow for the future of education in Beverly.

2:00 UPDATE: The Beverly Citizen has just posted its endorsement, also of Mayor Scanlon, saying:

...Scanlon has shown prowess in the financial sector. He has the dogged determination to get projects, such as the new Beverly High School, completed, and he’s not afraid to make less sexy tasks, like tackling the city’s drainage problems, a priority.

John Burke has demonstrated a deep commitment to his constituents and he has a vision for revitalizing the downtown and for preserving Beverly’s remaining open spaces. In addition, Burke is computer savvy and could bring his skills to bear in branding Beverly as a tourist destination to bring in much needed dollars.

We believe financial expertise, however, is the skill the city most needs at this moment, so we are endorsing Bill Scanlon for mayor.

Scanlon has said he wants to see the high school project through and we support him in that. He has shepherded the project along and should see its completion during the next term. ...

Let’s let Scanlon finish the high school. And, then let’s talk about how to build on what he has accomplished and take the city in some new directions.

Also,if you are still undecided, the Salem News has just posted videos of the interviews that BevCam held with both Mayoral candidates.