Union Votes Against Renewal of Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School

Haverhill Education Association President Lisa R. Begley.

Haverhill Education Association members voted 114 to 246 Thursday to not renew Silver Hill’s status as a Horace Mann charter school nine years after its initial charter was granted in 2008.

Thursday’s vote marks the first time the entire teacher’s union was allowed to cast a vote since the charter was issued. Silver Hill educators were the only ones to vote during the previous two charter renewals, and this year, HEA President Lisa R. Begley called for a new policy allowing all city educators to make their voice heard.

“As we understand the law, this means that the school will revert to being under the control of the Haverhill School Committee rather than under a separate board,” Begley said in a statement. “School Committee members will have to decide what, if any, parts of the Silver Hill program they want to keep and what they want to change, presumably with input from parents, teachers and other staff both at the school and throughout the district.”

With the charter renewal shot down, Silver Hill’s 580 students in grades K-5—chosen to attend the school via lottery—will now be forced to attend their neighborhood schools. Approximately 100 of those students are fifth graders, which will put an added strain on the city’s elementary and middle schools. Adding to the ripple effect, Silver Hill was also the only school in the district to offer free, all-day kindergarten. Other schools offer kindergarten on a sliding scale, based on family income.

The principal of Silver Hill, Margaret Shepherd, broke the news to families by email just after 6 p.m., Thursday.

“I know how hard everyone tried to get the Charter Application sent forward, and I will never forget the dedication of our school community. As much as this is an extremely discouraging outcome, I also know that the Silver Hill staff are the best at what they do, we will continue to have unbeatable family engagement, we open our doors to ALL children, and HEA can NEVER take that away. Give us the children, and we will always provide the best educational program in Haverhill!”

As a charter school, Silver Hill, the largest of nine Horace Mann charter schools in Massachusetts, provided independent public schooling open to everyone, and had the autonomy to establish its own school calendar, curriculum and educational culture.

Initially named a Horace Mann charter school because it struggled with low student achievement, Silver Hill currently carries a Level I performance rating, the highest accountability rating statewide.

Now that the renewal is tabled, the school could convert to what the state calls an “innovation school,” Silver Hill’s Euthemia Gilman, who founded the charter school in 2008, previously told WHAV.

Innovation Schools are a hybrid between district-owned charter schools and standard public schools and retain the right to supplement finances with grants and nonprofit foundation money. Gilman views this potential shift as a positive option. “You become a flagship elementary school,” she said. “I would say that does more good, especially for the quadrant and for the district, as opposed to stirring up and getting people upset.”

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to 97.9 WHAV FM for updates.

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10 Comments

  1. ChairmanoftheBoard said:

    Haverhill Education Association members who voted against the renewal are a disgrace and have their OWN interests in mind and couldn’t care less about children PERIOD.

    The union is there to protect mediocrity, ignorance, and power plain and simple – that is a FACT.

    To parents who this has (and will) effect – get your kids OUT of that school if possible, you are doing them a tremendous disservice if you leave them there.

  2. Jon Shore said:

    Returning Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School to the Haverhill Public School District is in the best interest of ALL Haverhill children. Haverhill is a district where 16.2% of students First Language is not English, 8.7% are English Language Learners and 22.8% are students with Disabilities. Silver Hill Charter population in no way reflects that of the Haverhill district with only 6.9% of students whose First Language is not English, and 3.9% are English Language Learners, and 0 Students with Disabilities are enrolled!

    Silver Hills High Needs student population is only 27.5% compared to Haverhill’s 58.2% and Silver Hill only educates 24.7% of students who are Economically Disadvantaged compared to Haverhill Public Schools which educate 45.1% who are Economically Disadvantaged! 59.5% of students in the Haverhill Public Schools are white, Silver Hills white population is 74%! Haverhill Public Schools Hispanic/Latino population is 33.7%, where only 18.7% are Hispanic.

    Silver Hill Charter Schools population does not reflect the Haverhill Public School district. How does that happen in a charter school that has a lottery? Haverhill teachers overwhelmingly voted, 2 to 1, to return Silver Hill School to the democratically elected Haverhill School Committee, rather than a privately run, taxpayer funded, Governing Board that is not accountable to the community. All ships rise together! With that vote, Haverhills Teachers had the best interest of Haverhill children, they want public schools that ALL our children deserve, good for them! Welcome home Silver Hill School!

    • Ella said:

      THANK YOU for your comments. Finally someone who is speaking the truth…

    • jack said:

      So I am guessing you also support “mainstreaming” all students into the same classrooms ?

  3. laughingfromFL said:

    Union thugs trying to Extract more money out the hands of hard working tax payers…. most crooked group MTA

  4. Conway said:

    Silver Hill Charter School was a response to the poor education received at the other schools in the District. It was an overwhelming success. Now the same people that provided poor educations to our children and helped create the Charter situation in the first place voted to send all these charter school kids back into their failed school system.

    This is about money, power, and making it better for the teachers and nothing more. Money and Power, because now the Mayor and Scully and their greasy fingered cohorts, will control the money that accompanies each of the kids from the Charter School. They also get control of the Silver Hill School property as well, which they have had big plans for well before the vote. And better for the teachers, because they think this will improve their “work conditions”.

    Make no mistake, this benefits the children of Haverhill in no way, shape, or form. In the end, and as usual, the greed from the Democrat politicians and the teachers unions they own, prove yet again that it’s all about them. And you can guarantee that the schools in Haverhill will continue to suck.

  5. Jack Haverhill said:

    TEACHER UNIONS BREED MEDIOCRITY ! If this vote doesn’t prove it nothing will. It’s a public display of liberals manipulating a process to dumb down the quality of education in the city and they’re actually celebrating it. Liberalism truly is a mental disorder.

    Is there a public record showing how each teacher across Haverhill voted? Parents…you need to find out how every teacher of your child voted, and watch very closely those that voted against renewal of the charter. It explains fully their mindset and their commitment to their profession. Any teacher who voted against renewal is clearly looking to coast through their career without fear that demands will be placed upon them to work harder, and count their days until the pension kicks in.

    If any teacher says their vote was “for the children”….tell them to STFU !

  6. Jenn said:

    Sad day for the city!

    Time to focus on the November elections.
    Out with the old in with the new…

  7. Duncan Burns said:

    “Silver Hill currently carries a Level I performance rating, the highest accountability rating statewide.” –

    So much for that. A big FU from the MTA and its Members. Massachusetts may lead the nation in education, but on a global scale it’s a joke, and withing Massachusetts, poor cities like Havehill are even more-so. We have some phenomenal teachers, only to be suffocated by PUBLIC union greed, ignorance, and selfishness.

    • Kate said:

      Massachusetts actually duel registers as it’s own country for ranking on a global scale and if in the top 10 in the world.

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