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, March 24, 2010

Feeling Like Pawns

Today's Salem News story expands upon Dr. Hayes' comments Monday night that the School Committee has asked the teacher's union for concessions to help avoid "significant layoffs throughout the district."

The story reports that two weeks ago the School Committee approached the seven unions that serve the school district to ask for undisclosed concessions to help close the budget gap.

The head of The Beverly Teachers Association, the largest of those unions, Heather Kavanagh, says that they are "still discussing" the request, but adds that she wants to know whether unions on the city side have also been asked to reopen their contracts and make concessions.

"I'm not sure the mayor has asked the other unions," she said. "Is it just the school unions being asked? I know it's difficult everywhere. We're not blind to what's going on. It's a hard time for everyone." the News quotes Kavanagh.

Mayor Scanlon declined comment on the matter yesterday, but last week responded to a related question by city councilor Jim Latter, saying "I certainly do not want to break an existing agreement. I'd rather those who remain (after layoffs) remain motivated because we didn't break our word."

Mindful of recent power struggles between the schools and the city, as well as some of of the public battles between Hayes and Scanlon during the 2008 budget debate, it's hard not to look at this through the same lens.

That year culminated with Scanlon coming up with his own school consolidation plan that ultimately trumped Hayes' plan that would have created an ECC at Cove.

The Cove community was forced to twist in the wind for three months, while the drama went on, and the McKeown community was ultimately sacrificed.

This year, it seems to be Hannah's turn to feel like the pawn.

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