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Having no children in the Newton Schools I have not been following some of the discussions on school building and renovations. I have visited some of the schools and can see that renovations are really needed. At last night Newton Highlands Area Council meeting we had a discussion on the large expansion of the Zervas school and it dawned on me what folks are talking about when I hear “a 16th school”.

One thing I do value in Newton is my ability to walk to many of the shops and services I use. It seems that we have lost the value of that benefit when it comes to school planning. Bruce Henderson has a column coming out in the tab discussing some of these topics and provided a link (Updated Link) for the more online inclined. One point made resonates with me.

Instead of making our schools too large,
we should do what we can to make
them walking-accessible for as much of
Newton as possible. This means aiming
for three classes per grade instead of
four, and building a 16th school where it
will be needed most for future growth.

Walk-able schools, less busing, less traffic, less gridlock, more exercise for kids, what am I missing?

I sounds like the idea of locating schools near kids is not in the plan for Newton and the next step is increasing Zervas from 320 students to 490. (Updated link) With many discussions on the effects of new development on current schools is it reasonable to ask that we consider new schools near new population areas, Upper Falls has been one such idea.

The answer to this question may be “The Public has spoken” when question 1 was approved during last year’s override vote. It appears that “address the condition and capacity of Zervas Elementary School” means a bigger school although I suspect that another way to “address capacity” is locating the capacity to a more suitable location.

One concern raised last night is it is now a done deal with upcoming votes in the School Committee and Austin Street taking the attention of the BOA.

If this is a topic worth talking about it may be a good idea to mention it to members of the School Committee, Board of Aldermen and Mayor to get this on the radar for a more thoughtful process.