, Salem, MA

Local News

March 18, 2014

Board votes to consider turning Bentley over to private firm


The large crowd came to hear the School Committee discuss a controversial proposal to turn Level 4 underperforming Bentley over to the Blueprint Schools Network, a private school management organization.

Under that option, Blueprint would run the school as a “partner” with the city, but could be given the power to hire new teachers and staff and make other changes.

Bentley’s co-principals asked the school board to consider an alternative plan, allowing Bentley staff to work with Blueprint on a new or revised plan.

Several parents asked the board to be more patient and give Bentley the full three years of its turnaround effort before making a final judgment. Bentley is in the second year of a turnaround and at the end of next school year faces a possible state takeover.

One man asked Mayor Kim Driscoll, a proponent of hiring Blueprint, what she would have thought if she had been judged after only two years. Driscoll is beginning her ninth year as mayor.

School officials said that Bentley, despite the strong effort of its staff, is still struggling.

“There has been some progress made,” said Superintendent Stephen Russell, citing increased parent involvement and a number of changes in the academic program.

“However, the results are not indicative of the level of effort that has been going into the work,” Russell said, pointing to low test scores reported by Achievement Net, a consultant monitoring progress at Bentley this school year.

Unfortunately, Russell said, there has been “continued decline” at the school.

Tom Dalton can be reached at




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