The City Council tonight, following a similar vote last week by the School Committee, unanimously approved a resolution allowing the city to submit a Statement of Interest for a new middle school to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). While the statement will mention the city's hopes to make the school a 5-8 model, and locate it at the site of the Memorial Building, the vote does not bind the city to any particular structure or timetable. The statement will be worded primarily to discuss the issues with Briscoe that make it unsuitable for sustained use as the city's middle school, and state that the city wishes to work with the MSBA on a plan for its eventual replacement.
Most members of the Council were mainly interested in assuring that this was just the first step in the process, and that it did not lock the city into any particular plan.
Mayor Scanlon, in discussing the process that would occur if the MSBA accepted this initial step, gave a timeline that seemed even more distant than previously stated, saying that if all goes as planned, construction could "begin in 2017, and the school could open in 2019."
The MSBA application period is narrow ending on January 11, and if the city misses this opportunity, it could be years before there is another, further delaying any potential building project.
Both last Wednesday's School Committee meeting, and tonight's City Council meeting where the statement was discussed and voted on were streamed live on BevCam's website, and are available for viewing in their online archive. BevCam plans to do this for all future City Council and School Committee meetings that are held at City Hall, making it much easier for citizens to view these meetings at their convenience.
12/20 UPDATE: Today's Salem News has more on the vote.
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.