Silver Hill Teachers Again Reject Innovation School Vote 33-1

For the second time in about eight months, teachers at Silver Hill Horace Mann Charter School rejected Monday conversion to an “innovation” school.

Staff voted 33 against to one in favor of adopting the innovation model—a hybrid between district-owned charter schools and standard public schools. Haverhill Education Association President Lisa R. Begley summed up the vote.

“They just wanted to go back to being a district school within the Haverhill Public Schools,” she said.

Begley said conversion to an innovation school might give the false impression not all students are welcome. “It is just my opinion that some people would think that going into an innovation school might suggest to some people that they only want select students.”

The union president acknowledged there were once certain advantages to innovation schools, but one key benefit has been taken away.

“Innovation schools used to get additional money, but the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is not giving additional funds for them right now,” Begley explained.

Silver Hill is slated to return to public control at the end of the school year after members of the Haverhill Education Association voted last June not to renew the charter.

Silver Hill parent Devan Ferreira, said she was not surprised by the outcome, but still disappointed.

“I feel a little sad as a parent thinking about the future of Haverhill Public Schools.”

She explained the vote offered the best chance to retain some of the best charter school features, such as a level of autonomy over curriculum.

“We were in favor because it seemed like a good way to preserve—on paper—in the form of accountability and a long-term plan, in an innovation plan, all that we really love about Silver Hill,” she said.

The parent of two children at Silver Hill, Ferreira said the lack of information about what will be taught in the future leaves her concerned. “We have a different curriculum at Silver Hill that what’s in place at other schools and, for a lot of parents, that’s what attracted us to the school in the first place.”

Both Ferreira and Begley said they have questions about the future and plan to participate in upcoming meet and greets with prospective school superintendents.