, Salem, MA


January 29, 2014

Our view: Cheers, jeers

CHEERS to Beverly Mayor Michael Cahill who, in his inaugural address, promised an “open and inclusive” era of city government. He’s off to a good start.

The new chief executive announced last week that the city will hold five forums over the next month to allow residents to give their opinions on whether the city’s hoped-for new, $73 million middle school should include fifth-graders. Currently, fifth-graders stay in their neighborhood elementary schools, and the middle school uses a grade six through grade eight configuration. The first meeting is tomorrow night at 7 at Hannah Elementary School.

Backers of the five-through-eight model say it is better for the youngsters’ social, emotional and educational growth. It would also ease crowding at the elementary schools. Opponents fear adding fifth-graders to the school would cost too much money. There are also concerns about having fifth-graders on the same bus as eighth-graders.

Either way, many parents felt their opinions on the issue were ignored or brushed aside by the previous administration, something Cahill vowed to fix before the School Committee votes on the school’s configuration Feb 26.

“My goal is that we have the public as involved in the process as we can on this over the coming four weeks,” Cahill told reporter Paul Leighton.

That’s good news. While there’s no guarantee parents will like the School Committee’s final decision, they are guaranteed a chance to have their voices heard.

JEERS to the scammers working the phones in the Danvers area.

Police say someone has been calling around town trying to convince folks that their electric service will be shut off if they don’t pay their bill. Of course, the bills aren’t overdue, but once the money is “paid,” it is most likely lost forever.

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