Ward 5 Alderman John Rice and Ward 5 School Committee member Steve Siegel have co-written a column in today’s Newton TAB, explaining why they both favor expanding Zervas Elementary School, as opposed to adding a new school elsewhere.
A survey referenced in the June 25 Newton TAB expressed a preference for smaller schools closer to people’s homes. We’ve thought hard about this strategy. Many alternate sites were assessed for both the Angier and Zervas schools, but none were found to be feasible for a school project. We confirmed that Newton is a built-out city with almost no excess land available for development. Creating sites for more schools would be expensive. It would require assembling 3- to 4-acre parcels through open market purchases, eminent domain takings, or repurposing of other city land currently used for parks, recreation, or other operations. We have concluded that the logistical and financial trade-offs required to create multiple smaller schools across the city isn’t the best strategy given our current enrollment projections and resources.
Although I live close to Zervas, this is not an issue I’ve followed closely perhaps because I don’t have any elementary school age children.
But Rice and Siegel are thoughtful guys with great integrity and credibility. On this issue, I assume they’re staking out a position that’s not necessarily popular among many of their Ward 5 constituents and might even inspire someone to challenge them during the next election.
My inclination is to believe John and Steve and support this. Anyone care to explain why we should do otherwise?