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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Scanlon: Tough Times Ahead

In his "State of the City" address last night, Mayor Scanlon said that with projections showing a $3.5 million gap for FY11, tough times are ahead.

"While we continue to move the city forward, we are struggling to adequately fund some of our most basic services, and sometimes we come up short," he said. "The money simply isn't there."

Scanlon said that "city and school officials can no longer 'shy away' from making the painful decisions that will be necessary as the city confronts a multimillion-dollar budget gap"

Today's Salem News has more details of the address.

In a statement reminiscent of some of the battles in 2008 over school personnel counts and other statistics, the Mayor claimed that "while the number of employees on the city side of the budget was reduced by 10 last year, the School Department added the equivalent of 23 full-time employees."

If 2008 is any guide, we would expect to hear that figure challenged by the Superintendent.

Other figures of note: 15% of the total city budget goes to health care, and the much discussed option of having city employees join the state group insurance plan (GIC), has still not become a reality.

Governor Patrick recently announced that local aid would not be cut for FY11 but, as the Mayor pointed out, even level funding amounts to $2.5 million dollars a year less than the city received a decade ago, and the budget still has to go through the state legislature, which could make further cuts.

On a positive note, the Mayor says that the high school is on budget and on schedule, and that the city was able to obtain a more favorable interest rate, so the ultimate cost of the project will be less than expected.

2/3 UPDATE: The city has posted the text of the Mayor's speech here. The Beverly Citizen also reports on the speech.

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