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, November 22, 2011

District Releases "Summary" of Middle School Plan

Nearly a week after the School Committee had planned a vote to approve a grade 5-8 alignment as the future middle school model for the city, the district has released a condensed version of the facilities report, the first public airing of the plan. The 4-page summary outlines the recommendation of the subcommittee, along with the rationale for choosing this model, but lacks the detail into the other models that were examined; any discussion of changes to the lower elementary program; or the frank description of Briscoe's condition that were contained in the original Facilities Subcommitee Report that we posted last week.

In a letter of introduction to the report on the district website, Superintendent Galinski writes:
Although there were recommendations for elementary configurations in the [original] report, the only configuration that is being considered at this time is a middle school configuration for grades 5-8.  The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) has opened a window of opportunity to submit "statements of interest" (SOI) for districts who wish to conduct building projects in the future.  The window will be opened until January.
The report's recommendation reads as follows:
The proposed long-term solution is based on where we as a district want to go, with a solid foundation in educational principles. The school committee and administration support the following:
  • One grade 5-8 middle school at expanded, updated Memorial, subdivided into a Lower Middle School of 2-person teams for grades 5 and 6, and an Upper Middle School of 4-person teams for grades 7 and 8.
The letter also states that the School Committee will hold an informational meeting on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 7:00 PM in the Briscoe cafeteria to give community members a chance to ask questions and share concerns about the plan with the Committee.

While many community members we have spoken with seem inclined to support the plan, most agreed that the speed at which it was being pushed toward a vote with an absence of public notice was troubling, as was the resistance, among some committee members, for allowing the public time to digest and comment on the report. We commend Committee President Annemarie Cesa for hearing our concerns, and slowing down the process enough to allow the public an opportunity to weigh in and understand the reasoning behind the recommendation, and its implications.

The two newspapers that cover the city have yet to mention the plan.