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, May 19, 2010

FY11 Cuts Total $2.4 Million

Here is the budget cut spreadsheet that the School Committee used Monday night to vote on the final budget figure, and detail how they got to it.

Only a handful of the proposals on this sheet have received much attention from the public or the press. And because the cuts came in stages, and without a major rallying point, (other than the briefly considered plan for an ECC at Hannah), it seems that many people aren't aware of just how severe the cuts have been this year.

Superintendent Hayes said the final amount of the cuts, $2.4 million, was "enormous" and will have a drastic impact on education in Beverly.

Most of the more controversial items have been covered in detail in the previous posts, and the Salem News covered the cuts to food service workers' hours and benefits yesterday.

But here are just a few more items from the list of cuts and notes from Monday night's meeting.  These are items that we have not mentioned previously, and begin to illustrate the depth of this year's cuts.

  • Special reading classes at Briscoe will have class sizes in the upper 20s, as a result of cuts to two reading  teachers.
  • Elimination of two SPED teachers at Briscoe.
  • In addition to the three (pared down from five-see next post) core curriculum teachers at the high school, a technology teacher is also being cut, as is a guidance councilor.
  • Elimination of one paraprofessional from each elementary school.
  • Large cuts to the general building operating budget at all schools
  • Fees for many programs are being increased by 2% and discounts for families with more than one child in full-day kindergarten or preschool have been eliminated.
  • Several cuts to the central office staff that were repeatedly resisted by the administration but insisted on by the Committee. Administration officials, who say their staff is already bare bones, contend that these cuts will have a major impact on the office's ability to process the myriad of paperwork, grants, and other work that it handles on a daily basis.
Looking ahead to next year and beyond, all parties expect that, unless the state government acts to restore local aid cuts, and give communities like Beverly the ability to control health-care costs, the situation will be even worse.

As soon as this budget is put to bed, the Committee says that they, along with incoming Superintendent Marie Galinski, plan to start a long range planning effort where everything is on the table, including a complete reorganization of the elementary schools (either an ECC model, or some other realigment), changes to school start times to make bus schedules more efficient, and a reexamination of the block scheduling at the upper schools.

They also plan to hire a consultant to look further at the busing department.

The full budget is expected to be available to the public early next week, and the public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, May 27th at 7:00 pm at the Memorial Building Auditorium.

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