In Aftermath of Vote, Silver Hill School Looks to the Future

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pay for newsThursday’s vote against renewing the charter of the Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School, on the surface, appears to seal the fate of the 10-year-school.

A Silver Hill parent said the institution will continue for the next school year, but its future beyond that is not certain. Officials of the Haverhill Education Association, however said, the 246 to 114 vote by teachers against renewal means it “will revert to being under the control of the Haverhill School Committee rather than under a separate board.” Haverhill School Superintendent James F. Scully, though, declined to make any predictions.

“Getting all the facts and try to separate fact from fiction and move forward for the best interest of the children of the Silver Hill School,” Scully said.

In a statement, Silver Hill Chairman Euthemia Gilman said “the most important function of the charter was the All-City approach to include all students from anywhere in the city.” In light of the vote, she said, “An educational community of instructional professionals, families, students and support agencies worked cohesively since 2007, when work first began on the charter, has been silenced.”

“Today, on my 67th birthday, I am asking again if the educators at Silver Hill can lift themselves up to continue to show the innovation in curriculum design and instruction, dogged determination for professional excellence and a passion for nurturing the well-being of children. I am asking if they can display once again, the energy to accept the challenge of continuing to use our mission for our neighborhood of Mount Washington. For that we need our own commitment and passion for being teachers.”

Parent Devan Ferreira said parents and school officials are trying to determine if there is a way forward for the school despite the union vote. “Silver Hill’s attorney is looking into the results this evening and will be contacting DESE (state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) very quickly so that we can figure out what our next steps should be and what they recommend.”

Either way, she said, Silver Hill plans to seek renewal of its charter from the School Committee next Thursday, June 22. If the state says there is no path to renewal in light of the required union vote, Ferreira said, there must still be discussions about conversion of the school before the School Committee begins its summer schedule.

She said she was disappointed by the vote, but not surprised.

“I think that we knew all along from the very start that this decision was already made and that HEA was pawns in a political scheme here in Haverhill,” she said.

Ferreira has noted the Massachusetts Teachers Association, of which the local union is affiliated, successfully fought a ballot question last fall that would have lifted the cap on the numbers of charter schools that could be established. While a Horace Mann-type school is different than a privately owned one, she has said she believes the two types were being confused.

Begley acknowledges some were upset she involved all Haverhill teachers in the vote, rather than just those at Silver Hill, as had been done previously. “I still feel I did the right thing because the law allows all teachers to vote and my job is to represent all teachers. If I know that’s what supposed to be done, why wouldn’t I do it?”

Although the union has no say in how the superintendent may assign or move teachers, Begley said, she hopes the administration would help any relocated faculty move boxes to the next location. She explained this is currently happening with teachers moving to the new Hunking School.

One of the more controversial elements during the charter renewal campaign was whether the demographic makeup of Silver Hill students matched the rest of the city. Asked whether she would change that message if she could, the union chief stood by her convictions.

“That’s why I teach in Haverhill. I like the diversity that Haverhill gives. I’m going to support all students. I feel very strongly, especially in an age where people are worried about that the color of their skin isn’t white,” she said.

A fact sheet issued by the union indicates the numbers of minority students has steadily declined since Silver Hill became a charter school. “The percentage of Hispanic students dropped from 30 percent in the 2007-08 school year to 23.6 percent in 2008-09, the first year it operated as an in-district charter. By 2016-17, that number had declined even further, to 18.7 percent, or nearly half what it had been as a regular district public school.”

State education officials had also raised the question of whether the school had made enough progress in attracting Latinos to participate in entrance lotteries. They did admit, however, Silver Hill had not yet had a chance to put in place new “recruitment and retention strategies.”

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12 Comments

  1. That girl from Haverhill said:

    First off, I am not a huge proponent of Charter schools. My children have attended 4 different Haverhill schools in 2 districts and I have been happy with the education they have received each and every time. Whatever my personal feelings regarding charter schools, this decision just makes no sense to me. Is the reason they are not allowing the charter to continue really the % of hispanic students attending Silver Hill? The percentage seems to be pretty much in line with the city population, and from what I understand, students are chosen by random lottery. The school is performing well when it comes to benchmarks, the parents seem happy so why end it?

  2. Jack Haverhill said:

    This is one of the most manipulated, sleazy moves by city employees in a while in Haverhill and just look at the comments section here on WHAV….they’re all the same 5~6 people. I would have thought there would have been all kinds of people expressing their opinion on this issue. The apathy on the part of people in this city is amazing.
    As they say…you get the government you deserve.

  3. SlipperCity said:

    To allow the teacher’s union instead of the voters to decide on whether a charter school should be in Haverhill, is pure insanity! Teacher’s Union will ALWAYS vote for their own interests, not the interest of the kids they teach, not for the families of Haverhill, and certainly not for the LEGAL voters of Haverhill.

    SHAME, SHAME, SHAME on the teachers of Haverhill!

  4. jack said:

    “Parent Devan Ferreira said parents and school officials are trying to determine if there is a way forward for the school despite the union vote. ” YES, time to get rid of the corrupt teachers union. After all they just proved to us all that THEIR motives and interest is of their own selfish ones. They proved it is NOT about what is best for the kids but about what is best for THEM ! Congrats to those who voted in the affirmative. Thanks you for your honesty and your hard work to put the kids interests above all.

  5. Jack Haverhill said:

    The insanity of this whole thing is that teachers were allowed to decide the fate of this issue.
    Teachers are employees. Nothing more. Where else besides in corrupt liberal Massachusetts do you see something like this?

    People look at a public policy issue like this and wonder how could such a thing happen. How could the best interest of students and the public, based on measurable criteria, be voted down? And then these very same people turn around and vote into office liberal democrats who manipulate the process to promote their agenda that caused this in the first place.

    It’s currently happening again with the legalization of pot. Voters passed legislation legalizing pot permitting for the state to tax it at a rate of 12%. But now liberals on Bacon Hill are manipulating the legislation to raise the rate to 28%. And why? So they can rip off taxpayers yet again to feed the hackarama of liberal democrats feeding at the trough for their own self interest. Whether it’s voting themselves pay raises, or getting family members no show hack jobs, the game never changes. Yet, as taxpayers pay more for literally everything in this state they continue to vote these corrupt thieves into office. That’s a democrat for ya!

  6. Duncan Burns said:

    “I feel very strongly, especially in an age where people are worried about that the color of their skin isn’t white,” she said.” –

    Talk about rhetorical bullshit.

    Haverhill is 84% White, which means in those prior years Hispanics would have been way OVER REPRESENTED at the school. Hispanics make up 18.6% of Haverhill’s population, so the current enrollment is in line with population demographics. Cheap, low IQ, race card tactic by the union head who I hope doesn’t go near a math classroom. Know what parents care about? That their own kids are educated and Begley is trying to deflect from that in order to make it a race issue and benefit her union. Newsflash: Most parents gives zero-F’s about a persons race or your union. What parents care about is that their own kid isn’t stuffed in an overcrowded classroom with other kids that can’t speak or read English (including Whites) at grade level, thereby dragging down their own kids development. Their skin color doesn’t matter – as that’s something instilled at home anyway.

    The MTA is happy though, which is all that mattered. What a f’ing douche.

    • jack said:

      Well said and true. Parents want all kids to do well. But, we also have to change the law when it comes to “:mainstreaming” kids in the classrooms when they would do better in a classroom working at their own level. More evidence at how the left controls the schools and your kids’ minds.

      • That girl from Haverhill said:

        Left & right asede, you are so right about “mainstreaming”. My feeling is the kids that are “average” suffer the most. The super smart ones are always going to do well, and the bottom gets all the attention & additional resources.

      • Ella said:

        You want homogeneous classrooms? What evidence do you have that students “would do better in a classroom working at their own level”

        • jack said:

          You’re kidding right ? You must be. To think that kids who have a higher knowledge base and English is their first language are not affected by those who are lower on the knowledge scale and English is their second language is just ignoring basic logic. How about those kids who need a personal attendant with them all day ? Those kids do not disrupt classrooms ? I have been involved with kids for over 25 years and have seen enough. Please do not give me the union talking points. Been around far too long.

        • Duncan Burns said:

          Who the fuck said we want homogeneous classrooms? Take that socialistic shit out of here.

          We want our kids CHALLENGED to the best of their abilities. Just because the law, like many others state something, doesn’t make them right or just. All in the name to drag everyone else down with those who can’t succeed for whatever barriers (most likely not being able to speak, read or write English – let alone literate in their native language) are placed in front of them.

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