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 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.