Newton North High School, NNHS

Walk to North Update

Hello Neighbors —

Steve Siegel and Ruth Goldman wanted to answer the questions that were posed in the 4/29 Walk to North Update.  Their answers appear below, please take the time to read them as they are helpful.
The SAWG met this afternoon and the short-term plans that were referenced at Tuesday’s meeting focus primarily on relieving the acute crowding issues Mason-Rice and Horace Mann are facing for next year.  The kindergarten class they mentioned will NOT involve Peirce children.  They are currently developing a set of new scenarios to be presented at the May 11th meeting that they think will please the Peirce areas.  It appears that the final redistricting recommendation will come from one of these new scenarios.
They have extremely busy developing these new scenarios in preparation for the May 11th meeting and they have heard our concerns clearly.  They asked us to share that they “are working to solve a complex problem and at the same time be as supportive and respectful of families and neighborhoods as possible.  Please, give us the benefit of the doubt when we tell you we are working with you.  The membership can keep sending emails if they must but they have already reached us.”  You all have done a great job!  They would appreciate if we give them the time and space to focus on the next set of scenarios.
We hope you all find this information helpful.  Please mark your calendars to attend the May 11th School Committee meeting @ 7pm!  It will be an important one.  As of this morning, the Public Hearing on redistricting has been rescheduled for Monday, May 18th at 7pm.

Answers provided by Steve to 4/29 Update:


“1.  The K class that could possibly move into Zervas is from Mason-Rice, from parts of that district that are expected to be reassigned to Zervas in every scenario we have discussed over the preceding months.  It has nothing to do with Peirce.  This is about dealing with an anticipated overcrowding issue at Mason-Rice as there is a question about whether they will have enough K space in the fall, depending upon how enrollment moves.  This move is noteworthy only because of the timing, as it may come a year before most of the other moves associated with citywide student assignment.  And it is an example of the specific value that an expanded Zervas offers as our citywide enrollment continues to grow.


2.  “Capacity”.  It was not well stated at the SC meeting but the basic concept is this:  take the number of full-sized classrooms and multiply them by the targeted average class size.  For example take a school with 16 full sized classrooms and say our average class size is 20.  The “capacity” of this school would be considered to be 320 students.


The capacity number is not a hard and fast planning tool but is being used by the working group to get a feel for the relative crowding of each of our elementary schools.  To me what ultimately matters is whether space constraints compromise the teaching and learning that can take place in a building.  In some cases this is obvious, like at my children’s own home school of Zervas, where until the last two modulars were installed special ed teaching and instruction for ELL students were delivered from desks out in the hallways where the setting made effective student support difficult.  The situation at Zervas was unreasonable.  The experiences of parents regarding Peirce as well as those of the principal, teachers and aides are all valuable to us as we work on the analysis.


3.  Grandfathering of siblings.  This is absolutely our intent, to prevent a family from having kids in two elementary schools at the same time.  In terms of giving weight to the criteria, this is the highest priority of many in the working group though for the time being, while we are continuing to develop useful metrics, the working group has not ranked them.  To the suggestion that this question was hedged at the SC meeting, I hope you can appreciate that we told you what we as a group know and have agreed upon, and nothing more.  This is a process, and we are in the middle of it.


4.  I understand that a question was posed to our Ward 3 Colleague Angela Pitter-Wright about the size of Zervas and the challenge to fill it.  The central goal of our long range planning is to address citywide enrollment growth, to fix our deteriorated and undersized elementary schools, and to add capacity, especially in central locations, to deal with growth we know is coming.  Zervas is positioned to directly help Mason-Rice, Bowen, and Countryside, and along with Angier can help Peirce, Williams, and Burr as well.  We will need this capacity very soon, even if we don’t need every bit of it in the next two years.  ”


— Walk to North


Leave A Comment