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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

6th Grade Bubble Among Top F12 Budget Concerns

With the FY12 budget gap creeping upward toward the $400,000 mark, the incoming 6th grade at Briscoe seems to be one of this year's focal points.

This week's Beverly Citizen brings us up to speed on this and other specifics of the budget negotiations.

According to reports, the incoming 6th grade class will be the largest to date entering Briscoe—upwards of 350 students. If some type of modification is not made, the starting numbers in each class will be 29-30, which pushes the limits of Beverly's already high class size guidelines.  This bubble will continue all the way through this class's time at Briscoe, resulting in a similar situation at each grade level.

Briscoe principal Matt Poska has been in discussions with the School Committee, and has presented several options for dealing with the situation, each with its own sets of challenges.

The minutes from Briscoe's last PTO meeting summarize the situation:
Budget concerns continue surrounding the incoming 5th grade bubble. It impacts reading class and expressive arts class sizes as well as team size. Mr. Poska has asked the school committee for the addition of a full-time expressive arts teacher for next year. We are trying to add programs that fit the school and district needs but that work in the existing space and budget. Working on ideas for what the position should be. Looking to add a .4 teacher for reading next year as well. We currently have 8 sections of reading with an average of 29 students. By adding 2 sections of reading we could get the number of students down to 23. 
According to the Citizen, a proposal by Superintendent Galinski to help alleviate the situation at Briscoe, as well as some large classes at the elementary level, is to utilize student teachers from the Merrimack College Education Fellows program:
Galinski said the program places Master’s students, who for the most part are already certified teachers, in a school for a full year, and the district pays the teachers tuition of $17,000, not a regular salary or benefits.

“It’s a good program,” Galinski said. “We’d like to take advantage of it.”
    At the elementary level, class cuts are proposed for the 3rd grade at Centerville and North Beverly, and the 5th grade at Hannah, which would result in class sizes of 28-29. Galinski hopes to utilize the Merrimack program to mitigate this situation as well.

    At the high school, reports are that a restructuring of the block scheduling is underway, in an attempt to cut down on the number of students in study halls, which was a major concern during the recent NEASC visit.

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