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, December 9, 2011

State Weighs in on Middle School Plan

Today's Salem News reports that the state is warning Beverly not to get too far ahead of them in developing a plan for a new middle school:
A state official is warning Beverly not to develop a "wish-list mentality" in its quest to build an expanded new middle school that would include fifth-graders.

Massachusetts School Building Authority Chief of Staff Matthew Donovan said officials should not be pitching a plan to build a more expensive school before they even know if the city qualifies for state aid.

"They come to us and tell us what the problem is, not the solution," Donovan said. "Don't come to us with a whole reconfiguration plan."

Donovan's criticism comes as Beverly is preparing to submit a "statement of interest" to the Massachusetts School Building Authority by a Jan. 11 deadline for communities seeking state aid for school building projects.
Donovan told the News that communities should not be developing their own plans independently, a practice that contributed to massive cost overruns in the past and shut down the state's previous school building assistance program.
"The former program ran up $11 billion in debt," Donovan said. "Cities and towns were doing their own thing and leaving the bill to the state. Now we build the most cost-appropriate schools."
Mayor Scanlon, says he plans to include the concept of a 5-8 school in the city's application to the MSBA but said it is nonbinding.
"To submit a lengthy statement of interest and not express your best current thinking is inappropriate," Scanlon said. "It seems to me they ought to understand as much as they can about our thinking. We're trying to be as informative with the MSBA as possible."
While the Committee has stated that the Statement of Interest can be amended later, its been vague on how specific the description of the school's structure will be in the statement.  The News states that Wednesday's vote will be to "endorse the statement of interest," but quotes Committee President Annemarie Cesa as saying "a vote on whether to officially adopt the fifth-grade middle school plan is still a ways off."

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