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.

Friday, April 29, 2011

High School Probation Officially Lifted

This week's Beverly Citizen reports that the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) has officially voted to remove Beverly High School's probationary status, which has been in place since 2003.

The status was primarily the result of the condition of the old school building, and with the opening of the new facility, officials had expected that the status would be changed. But some uncertainty has existed because of the effects of continued budget cuts, which have resulted in what the Commission sees as an over reliance on study halls to fill students' schedules. School officials have been working on ways to reduce the number of study halls.

The Commission's full report was released in March, but the ranking status wasn't announced at the time.

From the Citizen:
Beverly Public Schools officials were notified recently that the Commission on Public Secondary Schools of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges has voted to remove Beverly High School from its probationary status and recommended that Beverly High School receive full accreditation status in the Association. The Commission’s decision was based on review of an evaluation report prepared by a committee that visited the school in October 2010.

“We feel that the Commission’s decision confirms the results of the extensive self-study, which our faculty and administration conducted for the past two years,” said Beverly High School Principal Sean Gallagher. “The Beverly High School community was commended in many areas of the standards report, and we will continue to build upon these commendations. On behalf of our administration, we would like to thank and recognize our faculty, support staff, parents, students and community members for their assistance with the extensive self-study and the evaluation visit.”
The accreditation status will be good for 10 years, but the school must submit regular progress reports to show that it is meeting the commission recommendations for continued improvement.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Evening of Accomplishments" to be held Thursday

The Beverly citywide PTO is hosting their annual “Evening of Accomplishments” on Thursday, April 28th in the BHS Auditorium. The evening will begin with refreshments and conversation from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m. The Program, including School Committee President, Annemarie Cesa, Beverly Education Foundation’s Doug Walker and teachers from the Beverly Public Schools will begin at 7:00 to 8:30p.m.

4/29 UPDATE: Friday's Salem News has a recap of the event, which celebrated the contributions of the PTOs and other school community volunteer efforts.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Class Sizes Again on the Rise

Dr. Galinski has provided us with latest enrollment and class size projections that the working FY12 budget is based on.

We highlighted the incoming Briscoe 6th grade and several high 3rd grade class sizes in an earlier post, but the full projections show even more widespread areas of concern.

In addition to the incoming 6th grade at Briscoe, classes of 27 or higher are projected for grade 3 at all schools across the district, except Cove, as well as grades 4 and 5 at Hannah.

Highs approaching the district maximum of 30 are seen in the 3rd grades at Hannah and Centerville (29.5), the 6th grade at Briscoe (29.4), the 5th grade at Hannah (29), and the 3rd grade at North Beverly (28.5).

On the linked spreadsheet, the green highlights represent a change in staffing level from this year.
  • Ayers -  add 1 teacher to grade five
  • Centerville - take away a teacher and up the class size Gr. 3
  • Hannah - take away a teacher and up the class size Gr. 5
  • North Beverly - take away a teacher and up the class size Gr. 3
Galinski has proposed adding full-time student teachers from the Merrimack College Education Fellows program to mitigate some of these large classes.  She also cautions that these numbers are still evolving, especially the Pre-K and K numbers.

The full-day kindergarten numbers shown are relatively low, in part because of the Committee's earlier decision (against the initial objections of some members) to add a full day section at North Beverly.

An article in last week's Beverly Citizen provided a pretty good overview of the current budget negotiations.

Galinski says there should be updated projection figures in time for next Wednesday's School Committee meeting.

4/7 UPDATE: This week's Beverly Citizen has some new details on the most recent budget meeting, including high school pricipal Sean Gallgher's request to restore some of the teaching positions that have been cut in previous years and that are forcing more students into study halls.
At the March 30 meeting, Beverly High School Principal Sean Gallagher said the high school needs an additional foreign language teacher next year. He explained that next year will be the first year students will be required to take two years of a foreign language as part of the new Common Core State Standards, which were previously adopted by the district, and as a result the school’s foreign language class sizes is expected to increase.

“We don’t have enough teachers to cover [that],” Gallagher said.

Gallagher added that the school is trying to reduce the number of students in study halls in order to maintain accreditation, and this would help address that issue as well.

“We need to start replacing some of the high school staff back to maintain a quality education,” Gallagher said, pointing to cuts at the high school in previous year.
The School Committee will meet next Wednesday, April 14 to further discuss the FY12 budget.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fogarty Says She Won't Run for Re-election

Ward 4 School Committee representative Karen Fogarty announced today that she will not seek a third term for the post. In her letter to constituents, Fogarty stated:
Serving on the School Committee in Beverly has been one of the most rewarding, challenging and meaningful experiences of my life.  I am honored by the privilege to have served and humbled by the confidence which the community has placed in me.

I am proud to represent a constituency of citizens so engaged in issues surrounding public education and so committed to working with community leadership as it strives to make the decisions that will enable our School District to excel and our City to thrive.  I am confident that among them are many outstanding citizens prepared to and desirous of serving on our School Committee.
In the last election, Fogarty was challenged by Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility cofounder Gayle Burke, who she soundly defeated. There are no announced candidates yet for the seat this year.

Coming on the heels of the announced retirements of Pat Grimes and Judith Cronin on the City Council, and Council President Mike Cahill's decision to enter a four-way race for Mayor, it seems that 2011 will be a year of big changes in elective politics in Beverly.

We wish Karen well, and thank her for her service to the Beverly schools.  She always asked the tough questions, and was more than willing to listen and spend time discussing issues in detail with her constituents.