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.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Class Size Projections Released

Enrollment and class size projections for all schools were just released by Dr. Hayes.  The report shows that two of the three classes that were affected by the open-enrollment "pushback" plan approved by the School Committee this week, also have the highest class sizes in the district.  Ayers 5th grade, which was not part of the original plan but was added in at the last minute, leads the way with an average class size of 28.5. Hannah 4th grade follows with 28 students in each of two classes.  North Beverly 5th grade, which was not part of the open-enrollment plan, is projected at 27.3, and Hannah 3rd grade is at 26.5.

These class sizes are higher than the average class sizes at Briscoe Middle School, which are projected at roughly 26 for all three grades.

Hayes has also posted the following letter on the district website that explains these numbers further, and adds some other information that is either new, or not widely known. He says that most of the preschool program currently located at Ayers will be moved to Hannah, and that all half-day kindergarten classes will be housed at Ayers.

On May 4th, the School Committee gave its approval to a budget cut for FY11 that would necessitate sending some elementary students to other schools in order to reduce the number of classrooms.

Under the Open Enrollment policy of the district, parents may request to have their child enrolled at an elementary school other than their "home" school (by residence). Parents are informed that approval of such a request is given on an annual basis, depending on enrollments, and they need to apply each year. Over the years, students have been able to remain at the new school under open enrollment.

Under the School Choice program, residents from outside Beverly may request to enroll their child in a Beverly school. Such decisions are also based on enrollment. Under this state program, Beverly is obligated to educate such students through to High School graduation. If they are accepted for an elementary placement, they may request a particular school, and generally they enroll at the school they request. However, their guarantee is that we will educate them; they are not guaranteed a specific school.

Now we find ourselves in a very difficult situation, having to achieve a balanced budget for next year when all the cuts that are being considered are distasteful. We have no good options, but decisions must be made. In this specific decision, three teaching positions can be cut by returning Open Enrolled students and reassigning School Choice students. These moves specifically are for the 5th grade at Ayers and the 3rd and 4th grades at Hannah. These were the only places where moving such students resulted in a loss of a teaching position.

The administration monitors projected enrollments throughout the budget process and through the summer to accurately plan staffing needs for the coming year. The projected enrollments from moving Open Enrolled and School Choice students are shown in the current projected enrollment report. This report also shows that much of the preschool program formerly located at Ayers will be moved to the Hannah School, all half-day kindergarten classrooms will be relocated to Ayers, and the ATTAIN program will be moved from North Beverly to Centerville.

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