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, November 30, 2010

Panthers are Super Bowl Bound

Exciting day for Beverly High School students today.  Classes were held in the new academic building for the first time this morning, and this evening in Lynn the school's football team put on a dominant perfomance in their first playoff game in 22 years.

The Panther's beat the Scituate Sailors by a score of 41-14 to earn a trip to the Super Bowl  this Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

The team will take on the undefeated Somerset Blue Raiders at 11:00 am this Saturday at Gillette.

As the Salem News stated last week, its a good month to be a Panther.

City Council & School Committtee to Meet Thursday

There will be a joint City Council and School Committee meeting this Thursday at the Hannah School. The meeting is one of an occasional series of joint sessions where the two bodies can discuss issues of concern to both the city and the schools.

School Committee President Annemarie Cesa tell us that the agenda for the meeting includes Buildings & Grounds consolidation, the turf field proposal at BHS, community learning grant at BHS, special education updates, and details on the district's strategic plan.

The meeting begins at 7pm and the public is urged to attend.

12/1 UPDATE: Today's Salem News has more details on the agenda for the meeting.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Leaders Celebrate City's New Flagship

More than 100 school, city, and state leaders gathered this morning outside the library of the gleaming new Beverly High School to usher in a new era of education in Beverly.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was led by a jubilant Mayor Scanlon, who State leaders gave the bulk of the credit for making the project a reality.

State Treasurer Tim Cahill and Massachusetts School Building Authority director Katherine Craven praised the Mayor's tenacity in keeping the project on track, and ultimately getting the state to fund nearly 60% of the project.

Past and present School Committee and City Council members, academic and parent leaders from across the city, and others with some connection to the project, all joined together in what had to be the most celebratory moment in recent Beverly education history.

The project has been in the works for nearly 20 years, and seeing the successful results of that effort gave attendees a sense of pride, not just in the new building, but in the many positive aspects of the district's programs that are often overlooked in times of budget turmoil.

Former Superintendent Hayes, who managed so many of the details of the buildout, joined in the festivities, and current Superintendent Marie Galinski called the new school the "flagship of our educational program."  Galinski talked about the recognition that has already been given to the school's technology program, as just one of several recent accolades the district has earned.

Following the ceremony, high school students—clearly excited about next week's move to the new facility—led small group tours of the new building.

The building will be open for the public to tour Saturday from 10:00am-1:00 pm.  Take some time to see it, and appreciate the work and dedication by so many that went into making it a reality.

10/20 UPDATE: Here are reports on the ceremony from the Globe's YourTown:Beverly, and the Salem News. The News' story details some of the features of the new facility.
The new four-story building features chemistry, physics and computer labs; a conference room with a state-of-the-art sound system; an art wing with rooms for music, chorus and cooking; and half-size "special learning centers" for classes such as English as a Second Language.

The top three floors each include an assistant principal's office and a carpeted teachers' lounge with a kitchenette. On the first floor is a computer tech support room where students can bring their laptop computers for repairs. The chorus and band rooms feature "sound cloud" ceiling panels that enhance acoustics.
The News also had an editorial praising the project, and produced the following video featuring highlights of the ceremony.

Monday, November 15, 2010

New BHS Set for Public Unveiling

An official ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at the new Beverly High School this Friday at 9:00 am for city leaders and invited guests.

This week's Beverly Citizen has details of the ceremony.
The ceremony will begin with a greeting by Mayor Scanlon, which will be followed by remarks by Superintendent Galinski, High School Principal Sean Gallagher, School Committee President Annemarie Cesa and City Council President, Michael Cahill.

The Beverly High School strings ensemble and Chorus will perform and students representing all four classes at the high school will take guests on a tour of the building.
The public is also invited to tour the new school on Saturday from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm.  Current high school students will serve as tour guides.

Students will move into the new academic space on Tuesday, November 30th.

The opening of the school, after more than a decade of planning, has energized a school community that has endured several tough budget seasons and school consolidations in recent years.  While most expect another tough budget season next spring, the successful completion of what will be the showpiece of the district is clearly something to celebrate.

Photo (cc) by Nicole Goodhue Boyd/Beverly Citizen and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Survey Says...!

The results of the strategic planning survey are now posted on the district's website.  The survey was conducted earlier this fall, and includes responses from over 3000 community residents, staff members, and students on the effectiveness and relative importance of the district's services.

Items covered in the survey include student achievement, academic programs, school operations, student support, and school culture. Items identified as most critical for the strategic plan include.
  • Closing the Achievement Gap
  • Math and Science Proficiency
  • Teacher Recruitment and Retention
  • Professional Development for Teachers
  • Class Size
  • Extra Help for Students Who Have Difficulty with Schoolwork
  • Diversity Awareness and Appreciation
The survey results are being used in the district's ongoing strategic planning process, which is currently being conducted.

11/16 UPDATE: Today's Salem News has a good overview of the survey results, and highlights the vast disparity of opinion between students, and their parents, particularly when asked what areas were most important.
Parents, teachers and students were also asked to rate the importance of each area. Overall, the vast majority of respondents — more than 80 percent on average for all 27 categories — thought Beverly schools were either "effective" or "extremely effective." Most parents (68 percent) and staff (72 percent) also thought areas such as math and science proficiency and class size were "highly important." The majority of students did not. In averaging each of the 27 categories, only 44 percent of Beverly students considered the issues "highly important," according to the survey.