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.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Report Shows Effects of Healthcare Costs on Schools

A new report by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education and The Boston Foundation highlights the drastic effects that increases in health care costs have had on school systems across the state.

An article in the Boston Globe last week summarized the findings:
Hundreds of millions of dollars the state has provided to local school districts to improve classroom education has instead been gobbled up by soaring health care costs for school employees, according to a new report that questions whether Massachusetts has fulfilled the ambitious goals of its 1993 education reform law.

From 2000 to 2007, annual health care costs in school budgets grew by $1 billion, while state aid for schools grew by only $700 million ...

... Largely because of health care costs, school districts have been forced to make painful spending cuts, in books, teachers, and teacher training.
School advocacy groups such as Stand for Children hope the report can add fuel to the drive to pass legislation that would give local governments more power to trim employee health benefits without union approval.  Similar legislation again stalled in the state legislature last year.

Mayor Scanlon, who also serves as President of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, has been a strong voice in favor of "plan design" legislation. Scanlon stated last spring the nearly the entire amount of new spending in the city budget was used to pay for increases in health care costs.

Stand for Children, whose Beverly Chapter held its fall meeting and focus group last week, has identified this as one of the most important advocacy issues this year, saying in a letter to members:
This report underscores the importance of our continued advocacy for health benefit reform.  Thanks to your advocacy and the work of partner organizations, this issue continues to gain traction. With shrinking town and school budgets, we simply can’t afford to leave $100 million or more on the table.

We look forward to working with you in the coming months to ensure that city and town managers are given the tools they need to better manage health care costs in their communities. Providing good health benefits at a lower cost will allow us to save teaching positions and improve outcomes for students.
For information on how you can join Stand and help advocate for action on this issue, please contact Jim Povey.

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