SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

October 9, 2012

The goal: A modern middle school for Beverly

A little over two years ago, the Beverly school district began the process of developing a plan to focus our work as a district on what occurs in our buildings. This in turn allowed us to strengthen relationships between students and staff, as well as the instruction that occurs in the classroom. As we reflected upon this regarding Briscoe Middle School, it became glaringly obvious of the constraints that we have to overcome in order to adequately provide current and best practice instruction to our students. This led us to embrace the need for a new middle school. Few in our community would disagree.

Briscoe Middle School is an obsolete building that has served this community well for almost 90 years. Constructed in 1923 and located on only 6 acres of land, Briscoe is a crowded and aged facility. Its structural deficiencies, lack of technological infrastructure and severe space limitations inhibit the regular occurrence and full implementation of best practice and innovative programming we have brought to education in Beverly. The constraints that the building has put on the administration, staff and students in equitably meeting the intended goals established by the district are clearly evident. Yet the high-quality leadership, teaching and learning that goes on daily, despite the facility’s limitations, is commendable.

The School Committee fully recognizes the critical need for providing a robust educational experience for all its students. Over the past 14 years, the city of Beverly has set about the process of identifying gaps and inadequacies in the educational infrastructure and has moved steadily to address them. Together, the school district and city have achieved a high degree of success. With the elementary schools and high school renovations complete, the last remaining piece is the renovation of the middle school, which will provide the type of environment necessary for children to learn the skills needed to succeed in our increasingly global economy.

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