elizabear: (Default)
In the last few days, there has been some major news in the Waltham area regarding a proposed new charter school. This school would be for "troubled youths" ages 16-24 who have not been able to complete high school due to having a child, incarceration, or other disruption. I really, really hate to have to say it, but I really don't want this school in my town.

I grew up living with at-risk kids. My parents were licensed Foster Parents, and between 1976 and 1992, we estimate that they took in well over 100 kids. Some were just overnight or a weekend, most were with us for 6-8 months, some stayed for 3 years. Sometimes we had as many as 3 at a time. Some came to my house because they were abused, some were unmanageable by their parents, some were unwanted, some were being processed into the court system for various reasons. It was rough and it wasn't always nice, but it at times it was fun, and it was certainly educational.

When I first heard about the proposed charter school, I thought it was a good idea. I knew people like this - people who dropped out of high school to have a baby, people who were arrested for theft or assault and couldn't attend school. But that was in a rural area, and it was 24 years ago (I left home for college in 1984, missing the last few years of foster kids in my parents' home). I had no idea of the scope of the issue in an urban area and in today's culture.

The same organization proposing the charter school is currently running a group home in Waltham. The Waltham police spoke against the charter school at the hearing on Thursday due to the high number of incidents they're already handling with just this small group home population. (See the article below) The proposed charter school wants to have a dorm for at least 100 students - nearly 10 times as many as they currently have at the group home. It's estimated that Waltham currently has nearly 80 halfway homes, group homes, and shelters. If you didn't know the number was that high, it's because the residents and clients and organizations have found ways to work well in the community. The current record for this group doesn't seem to bode as well.

And, it should be noted, one person speaking to support the proposal said himself, "We're not students, we're clients." I think that's a very important differentiation. They're also not children - they're adults. This is not going to be a standard student body by any stretch of the imagination.

More importantly to me as a parent, the proposed charter school would take away funding Waltham is receiving from the state.
The State Treasurer shall make quarterly payments to Commonwealth
charter schools. In making such payments, the Commonwealth shall
reduce each sending district's M.G.L. c. 70 allocation by an amount
sufficient to meet its charter school obligations for the quarter. If
there are insufficient M.G.L. c. 70 funds to meet a district's
obligation, the Commonwealth shall reduce other state aid allocated to
the applicable cities and towns. If there are insufficient state aid
funds of any kind to meet a district's obligation, the Board of
Elementary and Secondary Education shall recommend to the Governor and
legislature that a supplemental appropriation be made to pay any
remaining obligation to the charter school(s).


Yes, the proposal says that the "students" would come from all over the state and that the home districts would be paying for them, but let's be realistic - no one is going to commute from the other parts of the state to attend the proposed school unless they live within half-an-hour or so away. That means many attendees are going to move here, and that means Waltham will end up paying for them out of our current school aid. I happen to think Waltham schools are very good - we have specialists in art, gym, music, drama, and media. We have a full-time librarian and nurse. The PTO fills the gaps and provides money for visiting speakers, enrichment programs, and traveling exhibits. The Plympton principal said Waltham is receiving $5,000 per student from the state; the proposed charter school would be drawing $16,000 per student away from that funding. The proposed charter school would also be entitled to transportation funds, again drawn from Waltham's current aid package.

I always thought that the purpose of a charter school was to meet an underserved need of a district. This is not a proposed school to enhance the education of Waltham residents, and it is not filling a need for the immediate area: Waltham High School has vocational and alternative education programs, as does nearby Lexington Minuteman Academy (the director of which also showed up at the hearing to voice his objections to the proposed charter school). I don't want to see programs cut in my son's school, and I don't want to encourage residency by an element that has already proven its inability to control itself.


Please check out the following news stories from the local paper :
http://www.dailynewstribune.com/news/x581451711/Public-forum-for-proposed-charter-school-in-Waltham-planned
http://www.dailynewstribune.com/news/x43170514/School-Committee-slams-charter-school-proposal
http://www.dailynewstribune.com/news/x337323943/Police-warn-arter-school-may-bring-gangs


Waltham Cable will be airing the public hearing held on Thursday afternoon 12/4/08 at the following times. See for yourself the arguments for and against this proposed charter school, make up your own mind, and let the MA Board of Education know before January 5th at charterschools@doe.mass.edu

Friday, December 5th - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 6th -noon and 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 7th - 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The hearing will be aired on Waltham's MAC Channel.
Comcast - Channel 98
RCN - Channel 15
Verizon - Channel 43
elizabear: (Default)
In the last few days, there has been some major news in the Waltham area regarding a proposed new charter school. This school would be for "troubled youths" ages 16-24 who have not been able to complete high school due to having a child, incarceration, or other disruption. I really, really hate to have to say it, but I really don't want this school in my town.

I grew up living with at-risk kids. My parents were licensed Foster Parents, and between 1976 and 1992, we estimate that they took in well over 100 kids. Some were just overnight or a weekend, most were with us for 6-8 months, some stayed for 3 years. Sometimes we had as many as 3 at a time. Some came to my house because they were abused, some were unmanageable by their parents, some were unwanted, some were being processed into the court system for various reasons. It was rough and it wasn't always nice, but it at times it was fun, and it was certainly educational.

When I first heard about the proposed charter school, I thought it was a good idea. I knew people like this - people who dropped out of high school to have a baby, people who were arrested for theft or assault and couldn't attend school. But that was in a rural area, and it was 24 years ago (I left home for college in 1984, missing the last few years of foster kids in my parents' home). I had no idea of the scope of the issue in an urban area and in today's culture.

The same organization proposing the charter school is currently running a group home in Waltham. The Waltham police spoke against the charter school at the hearing on Thursday due to the high number of incidents they're already handling with just this small group home population. (See the article below) The proposed charter school wants to have a dorm for at least 100 students - nearly 10 times as many as they currently have at the group home. It's estimated that Waltham currently has nearly 80 halfway homes, group homes, and shelters. If you didn't know the number was that high, it's because the residents and clients and organizations have found ways to work well in the community. The current record for this group doesn't seem to bode as well.

And, it should be noted, one person speaking to support the proposal said himself, "We're not students, we're clients." I think that's a very important differentiation. They're also not children - they're adults. This is not going to be a standard student body by any stretch of the imagination.

More importantly to me as a parent, the proposed charter school would take away funding Waltham is receiving from the state.
The State Treasurer shall make quarterly payments to Commonwealth
charter schools. In making such payments, the Commonwealth shall
reduce each sending district's M.G.L. c. 70 allocation by an amount
sufficient to meet its charter school obligations for the quarter. If
there are insufficient M.G.L. c. 70 funds to meet a district's
obligation, the Commonwealth shall reduce other state aid allocated to
the applicable cities and towns. If there are insufficient state aid
funds of any kind to meet a district's obligation, the Board of
Elementary and Secondary Education shall recommend to the Governor and
legislature that a supplemental appropriation be made to pay any
remaining obligation to the charter school(s).


Yes, the proposal says that the "students" would come from all over the state and that the home districts would be paying for them, but let's be realistic - no one is going to commute from the other parts of the state to attend the proposed school unless they live within half-an-hour or so away. That means many attendees are going to move here, and that means Waltham will end up paying for them out of our current school aid. I happen to think Waltham schools are very good - we have specialists in art, gym, music, drama, and media. We have a full-time librarian and nurse. The PTO fills the gaps and provides money for visiting speakers, enrichment programs, and traveling exhibits. The Plympton principal said Waltham is receiving $5,000 per student from the state; the proposed charter school would be drawing $16,000 per student away from that funding. The proposed charter school would also be entitled to transportation funds, again drawn from Waltham's current aid package.

I always thought that the purpose of a charter school was to meet an underserved need of a district. This is not a proposed school to enhance the education of Waltham residents, and it is not filling a need for the immediate area: Waltham High School has vocational and alternative education programs, as does nearby Lexington Minuteman Academy (the director of which also showed up at the hearing to voice his objections to the proposed charter school). I don't want to see programs cut in my son's school, and I don't want to encourage residency by an element that has already proven its inability to control itself.


Please check out the following news stories from the local paper :
http://www.dailynewstribune.com/news/x581451711/Public-forum-for-proposed-charter-school-in-Waltham-planned
http://www.dailynewstribune.com/news/x43170514/School-Committee-slams-charter-school-proposal
http://www.dailynewstribune.com/news/x337323943/Police-warn-arter-school-may-bring-gangs


Waltham Cable will be airing the public hearing held on Thursday afternoon 12/4/08 at the following times. See for yourself the arguments for and against this proposed charter school, make up your own mind, and let the MA Board of Education know before January 5th at charterschools@doe.mass.edu

Friday, December 5th - 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 6th -noon and 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 7th - 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The hearing will be aired on Waltham's MAC Channel.
Comcast - Channel 98
RCN - Channel 15
Verizon - Channel 43
elizabear: (ze)
Well, there's a kid in school, so of course it's started already: we've been asked to help with a PTO fundraiser.

If you're willing to help, you can go to http://www.meadowfarms.com and look a the "Shop Now" link at the top. If you see something you're willing to buy, you can let me know and I'll add it to the paper order form. (You can shop online and give the Zach's Personal Credit Code - ZR5255 - so he gets the points, but they charge for shipping under $65, and you're not likely to reach that. Instead, I can pick up the stuff and get it to you.)

Thanks for thinking about it!
elizabear: (ze)
Well, there's a kid in school, so of course it's started already: we've been asked to help with a PTO fundraiser.

If you're willing to help, you can go to http://www.meadowfarms.com and look a the "Shop Now" link at the top. If you see something you're willing to buy, you can let me know and I'll add it to the paper order form. (You can shop online and give the Zach's Personal Credit Code - ZR5255 - so he gets the points, but they charge for shipping under $65, and you're not likely to reach that. Instead, I can pick up the stuff and get it to you.)

Thanks for thinking about it!

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