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, May 5, 2011

FY12 Budget Set for Public Hearing

The complete draft of the FY12 school budget has been posted on the district website, and the public will have a chance to voice their opinions in a public hearing next Wednesday, May 11th at 7:00 at the Beverly High School Auditorium.

This week's Beverly Citizen brings us up to speed on the most recent changes that eliminated the remaining $250,000 gap in the budget.
The proposed changes included eliminating the director of personnel position at the district’s central office. To make up for this cut, $4,000 was added to the budget to purchase database software and pay for training for other personnel. A part-time clerical position was also added to help the coordinator of child welfare with the additional workload, Galinski said, explaining that the cut puts more stress on the rest of the staff because the work still needs to be done.

The draft budget also proposes eliminating five special education teachers, one at each elementary school, who work as part of the TLC program, an intervention program for students with social-emotional needs. Those positions are currently funded by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant, which runs out this year.

Galinski said these teachers, who serve as part of a TLC team along with other staff members, will each by replaced by two part-time paraprofessionals at Ayers Ryal Side, Cove, Hannah and North Beverly elementary schools. Centerville Elementary School has requested a Merrimack College Education Fellow to fill this position instead.
The Citizen also provides more details on other places within the district where Merrimack fellows will be used to augment staff positions. The fellows, who for the most part are already certified teachers, are placed in a school for a full year, and the district pays the teachers tuition of $17,000, not a regular salary or benefits.
Five other teaching fellows are being placed in classes with large class sizes — one in grade three at Centerville, one in grade five at Hannah and three on the sixth-grade team at Briscoe Middle School, which is expecting roughly 343 sixth-graders next year.
A Merrimack Fellow was going to be placed in grade three at Hannah, but five open-enrolled students and one School Choice student were moved to other schools in the district, which brought class size down there and eliminated the need, Galinski explained, adding this freed up a Fellow to work on the TLC team at Centerville.

In addition to these changes, the budget also reflects other additions discussed at previous meetings, including adding a foreign language teacher at the high school, an expressive arts teacher and a part-time reading teacher at the middle school and a fifth-grade teacher at Ayers, and other staff reductions caused by ARRA grants running out, including the lose of a guidance councilor at the high school and a several part-time reading coaches at the elementary level.

Galinksi said that after all of the additions and subtractions, the equivalent of 3.6 full-time staff positions were cut.
The posted budget document also includes the most recent class size projections, showing highs of 29.5 in Centerville 3rd grade, 29.0 in Hannah 5th grade (both grades which will be receiving fellows) & 27.7 in Ayers 3rd grade (apparently below the district's threshold for needing teaching assistance). Briscoe's 6th grade, which will be receiving 3 fellows, has a projected class size of 29.4.

All parents are urged to attend Wednesday's hearing.

5/10 UPDATE: Here is the Salem News' recap of the budget details.

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