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, August 31, 2010

Boston Magazine Highlights BHS Technology Program

While its customary to see our neighbors in Hamilton-Wenham and Manchester on Boston Magazine's annual best schools list, this year Beverly earns a spot in the issue as well.

In a sidebar titled Best Schools 2010: The Honor Roll, the magazine highlights "standout programs that prepare kids for life beyond the classroom"

Beverly High receives a nod for its Technology program, about which Boston Magazine says:
Picture this: every student working wirelessly on a Mac laptop in a new building. Teachers using Wikis to post assignments, give feedback, and encourage discussion online. Assessments that aren’t just term papers, but 21st-century ways to demonstrate knowledge — blogs, documentaries, PowerPoint presentations, and podcasts. It’s about to happen at Beverly High, which this September becomes the first school in eastern Massachusetts to require every incoming freshman to have a laptop. (Thanks to a deal with Apple, students can purchase, rent, or borrow a computer.) The school teaches everything from basic computing literacy to AutoCAD, the design-industry standard. And it also trains students to provide tech support to peers. Kyle Sweeney, Beverly class of ’07, says that experience helped him get into college. “It taught me communication and problem-solving skills better than any class.”
Interestingly there is not a mention of the controversy that erupted over this same program last Spring.

Back to School

As Beverly students return to the classroom, the Salem News has a front page story on the upcoming school year in Beverly. 

A few new budget details that are of interest:

Of the 31 positions that were cut in last spring's budget cuts, almost six were able to be added back because of an end of year surplus in last year's budget.  Restored positions include two middle school teachers, a high school teacher, an elementary school aide and a clerk.

The story also confirms the numbers in our previous post regarding new Federal funding programs. Superintendent Marie Galinski says most of the money will likely be saved to help with next year's budget. Anticipating another tough budget season next year, many districts seem to be taking this approach with the federal money.

The story also reports that the new high school is on track to open at the end of November.  The school will also begin an accreditation renewal process this fall.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Massachusetts Wins "Race to the Top" Funding

Massachusetts today was named one of ten state winners in the second round of the federal Race to the Top education funding program.  The state will receive $250 million in additional federal education dollars over the next four years. The Boston Globe has the story here and the Herald here.

While the announcement was hailed by most officials on both sides of the political aisle, the decision several weeks ago to adopt new federal standards over the current state MCAS system—which is seen as a key element in the state's victory—has been criticized by some as short-sighted.

In fact, an analysis on the Globe's education blog, written by Pioneer Institute Director Jim Stergios does a pretty good job of dumping a pail of ice water on any victory celebration.

Even so, the Race to the Top victory coming on the heals of last week's passage of a federal stimulus bill directed largely at saving teaching jobs, offers a ray of hope for new funding sources to help offset this year's cuts and what is expected to be another very tough budget season in Beverly next year.

8/25 UPDATE:  Today's Salem News has the local angle on the Race to the Top program, and reports that Beverly will receive $360,392 over four years.

The Globe also has more details on Beverly's share of the education stimulus funds. According to a spreadsheet that accompanies the story, Beverly schools will receive an additional $390,187 in funding from this stimulus (not to be confused with the Race to the Top funds).  This is one time money that the district can use this year, or save for next, according the the Globe.

9/2 UPDATE: The Beverly Citizen has some more specifics on Beverly's plan for the money.