6.22.2006

More high school debate: Garden City blog responds to Borderline

Chuck over at the Garden City blog responded to Borderline's earlier call to transform Newton's dual-high school system into a single high school system. Here's an excerpt:
The new North will probably have a little more than 1800 students, fewer than attend now. But if you wanted to combine the two high schools, where would you put a different one? When last the schools were combined Newton was a different place--the south side not as built up and traffic not nearly as bad.
Chuck brought up some very good points in his blog, but I still think fiscal and demographic realities necessitate moving back to the single high school model. Here's my response to Chuck:
Thanks Chuck for discussing Borderline's single high school proposal. You bring up some very valid points about location, traffic on the south side of Newton, and more. But my basic argument is Newton can no longer afford two full sized high schools in an era of skyrocketing school costs and inevitable demographic change. Yes, Newton is a very attractive place to live because of its schools, but what type of young family can afford to move to Newton to take advantage of them, when single family houses cost 500 or 600k? Only people that have lots of money, or families in which the parents are working two demanding jobs. These are the types of families who have fewer children. Or send their kids to private school.

Changing districts or downsizing school systems is not impossible. Framingham merged its North and South high schools back in 1991. Newton closed Warren Junior High as well as many elementary schools back in the 1980s, including my own, Davis school. It was tough for my family and my neighborhood but we survived. What were the reasons for the closures? Demographic changes and budget pressures. It sounds a lot like the situation Newton is experiencing right now, in my view.
The Newton Tab blog has also talked about Newton's school-related budget discussions here and here.

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