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.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grimes Criticizes School Committee

In an email to her constituents, City Councilor Pat Grimes has expanded upon her criticism of the School Committee for the lateness of this year's budget approval and public hearing.  Grimes first made mention of this during a City Council meeting last month.  In the email, Grimes says:
I am troubled by the actions of the School Committee during this recent budget process.  As I stated at the Council meeting with the Schools on June 9th, they were in flagrant violation of our City Charter and the requirements of city government.  Conducting a public hearing on the school budget on May 27th only two business days before the city budget was presented to the Council is nothing short of outrageous.  Our Charter requires the School Committee to adopt a budget at least 21 days before the city budget is presented to the Council.  Since the city budget is traditionally presented at the beginning of June (the latest it can be presented), the schools should have had a public hearing and adopted a budget by the beginning of May at the very latest.

[Former] Superintendent Hayes and the School Committee are well aware of this requirement, since I have spoken to them in the past about it several times. Part of the reason for the 21 days is to give the public time to digest the impact of the school budget and voice any concerns to the Council and Mayor.

Why all the fuss??  If some elected officials are making their own rules to suit themselves, then the best interests of the city are not being served, and in the long run that is not good for this city.  It may make life easier for some officials to withhold information from the public or not present it until the 11th hour, but it does not bode well for the city.  I hope this practice does not continue.
We are no experts on the City Charter, but we agree with Grimes' view on the public hearing scheduling. While there was ample opportunity for the public to follow the process earlier on, and to contact Committee members with their personal views, it was pretty clear to most of us that the Public Hearing was being held more as an obligation, rather than a true opportunity for the public to have any influence on the final budget.

No comments: