If you missed the Ward 6 School Committee debate earlier this month, you can now view it online thanks to BevCam. This race pits current School Committee President Maria Decker against challenger Lorinda Visnick, a well-known voice in the community. Given some of the conflict within the school committee over the past two years, and the recent departure of both the superintendent and the assistant superintendent, this is a very closely watched race, not just in Ward 6, but across the city, as it has become something of a referendum on Decker's leadership.
Major decisions await the next school committee, including the hiring of a new superintendent and assistant superintendent, as well as the middle school building project and the very important decision as to whether that building should include 5th graders. That is a decision that many feel has still not received a full and public debate as to the educational merits of such a structure. These issues and others are discussed here, and the candidates demonstrate a stark difference in their perceptions on the state of the district administration. The school committee debate leads off the video, and is followed by the city council, and mayoral debates.
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.