SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 16, 2014

Danvers High no longer faces accreditation 'warning'

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — A regional accreditation agency that sets standards for schools has lifted the “warning” status on Danvers High School.

New England Association of Schools and Colleges Inc.’s Commission on Public Schools Director Janet Allison wrote that in October, the Committee on Public Secondary Schools continued the school’s accreditation “and voted unanimously to remove the school from warning for the Standards for Accreditation on Curriculum and Community Resources for Learning.”

The decision followed the completion of the $70 million high school renovation project last fall.

The NEASC committee “commended the completion of the school building project, which fully supports the school’s core values and beliefs, its educational programs and services, and assures students have multiple opportunities to achieve the 21st century learning expectations, and the voters of Danvers for their support of the construction project.”

”The building project and the accreditation piece really is a true example of the team effort,” Superintendent Lisa Dana said.

Dana said Assistant Superintendent/High School Principal Sue Ambrozavitch has worked on improving the school’s culture. Peggy McElhinney, the high school’s curriculum director, worked on moving the school’s curriculum forward. Assistant Principal Mark Strout, former Holten Richmond Middle School Principal Michael Cali and Business Manager Keith Taverna led the building project.

In the end, these efforts came together, Dana said.

”So, we have this beautiful building, we have the technology resources now, and at the same time, Peggy and Sue are working on the pieces of making sure that we are taking full advantage of this new building,” Dana said.

The committee was also impressed with the school’s efforts to improve its “core values.”

”We are happy and proud about that,” said School Committee Chairman Eric Crane of the warning notice’s removal. While it may be driven by the building project, “they also pointed out issues within the building,” he said.

For more than a decade, the school has been on warning status due to problems with its facilities. The former 1960s Danvers High was seen as inhibiting learning. In 2007, some renovations were made in an attempt to improve the school, such as doubling the size of the nurse’s office, the construction of a computer lab, and the installation of portable fume hoods and eyewash stations in science labs, but the warning status remained.

Among other things, the most recent building project added a brand-new science wing with state-of-the-art labs.

Danvers High is scheduled for an evaluation visit from NEASC officials in 2016.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.