DANVERS — The city could vote to limit the number of Danvers students who attend Essex Tech each year at Monday’s annual town hall meeting.
Members of the Town Assembly will meet inside Danvers High School at 60 Cabot Road at 7:30 p.m. to decide the fate of 46 items, including Item 5, a drafted Bylaws petition that would limit the number of incoming freshmen from Danvers to Essex Tech at 40 per year.
If passed, the cap will go into effect for the 2023-2024 school year.
“What we’ve been trying to do for about two years now is move the conversation forward so that Town Meeting can understand what an open-ended commitment to this school looks like…” said Danvers City Manager Steve Bartha. “We have tried to make it very clear that we are a community with limited resources.”
The city is charged $16,700 per student living in Danvers who attends Essex Tech, Bartha said. This amount is about $7,500 more per student than the city would pay to educate them in Danvers Public Schools.
The city’s Essex Tech valuation has risen from $2.51 million to $3.87 million over the past four years, an increase of 54.18%, according to the town meeting mandate.
Danvers officials have attempted to find a more affordable solution for enrollment at Essex Tech five times since February 2020, according to the terms of reference. None succeeded.
“It became a very acute budgetary issue three years ago when the school’s admissions decisions resulted in a $670,000 increase in the city’s assessment, which she was made aware of during of the pre-COVID interim budget process,” Bartha said.
“And at that point, the city contacted the school and tried to start a conversation with them…but they didn’t even really engage in conversation,” he continued.
Danvers’ 28,000 residents make up 9.22 percent of the Essex Tech District, which includes 17 communities, according to the 2020 federal census. Yet 17.65 percent of the school’s students are from Danvers.
Capping the number of incoming freshmen would allow Danvers’ student body to stabilize at 160 over the next four years, or about 12% of the school’s overall population.
“(Section 5) would put in place safeguards for the city’s commitment to Essex Tech on a future basis,” Bartha said.
Essex Tech Superintendent Heidi Riccio wrote in an April 25 letter to members of the city assembly that she “opposes wholeheartedly” Section 5.
“This petition … arbitrarily and unreasonably denies prospective Danvers students access to vocational training, rendering an already competitive and highly selective admissions process unfair to these students based solely on the community in which they reside,” Riccio wrote. . “Section 5 deprives parents and young residents of Danvers of their educational choices and of all the benefits that Essex North Shore has to offer.”
Section 5 would interfere with the school’s broad power to create and dictate its own admissions policies, Riccio wrote. She added that capping enrollment at Essex Tech may only cause Danvers students who have been rejected from school to attend other vocational schools in the area, forcing the city to pay for their education outside. .
“While we recognize that the city’s desire to increase student enrollment and invest more resources in its public high school for the benefit of these students is laudable, however, this cannot and should not circumvent the Nor should Essex North Shore’s admissions decisions come at the expense of students seeking careers in technical and agricultural education,” Riccio wrote.
The city assembly will also decide on Section 38, a proposed citizens’ petition that would allow Danvers officials in elected citywide positions who still have more than six months left in their term to be removed from office. their duties by a recall election.
Under Section 38, residents would have to file a recall petition with 350 or more signatures for the city to hold a recall election, which would take place within 64 to 90 days of petition certification, depending on the mandate. . The Select Board voted 4-1 in April to advance the article with an unfavorable opinion. Bartha said it was not because the board disapproved of the idea for the article, but rather because he believed the underlying process was a rushed response to the turbulent past two years at Danvers.
“I can’t speak for the select committee, but some of the comments were that… pushing something like that in reaction to something like that felt like a very different process than putting the issue on the table, thinking about it and to make sure it would co-exist well with all the other government documents that are in town,” Bartha said.
Members will determine the city’s budget for fiscal year 2023, vote to allocate Chapter 90 funds for street maintenance, and decide whether to reapprove the city’s revolving fund accounts to manage its non-tax programs.
Section 24 proposes that $440,240 be used to improve buildings at schools, fire stations, Endicott Park, the Peabody Institute Library, and other city-owned buildings. Similarly, Section 25 would set aside $219,000 for improvements to park lands and city properties. If approved, Section 28 would allow the city to spend $150,000 earmarked for a citywide strategic plan. The plan would help Danvers determine its priorities for the next decade, particularly to meet the needs of its residents, according to the mandate.
Several articles dealing with improving the city’s sewage facilities and repairing local dams will also be voted on.
Contact Caroline Enos at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @CarolineEnos.