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July 01, 2007

Comments

The Mole

Gee Whiz, how come Boss Hog’s DPW Funland wasn’t among the reports? Could it be he is all filled up or hiding what is really on the menu. Naw, they are waiting for the Hog to give the class on, “How to F’k em all, 101.

And this so called “Mystery Customer” program should entail finding out who these “Mystery Junior Analyst are. I must be going to another relative of someone on the BOA or contributor.

Another Department not mentioned was in Purchasing. Could it be that the Mayor is waiting to appoint a new person since she is slated for the “Heave HO” pile along with the Treasurer?

Still shaking up those people huh Joeycakes? It seems whenever one does not think your way, out they go.

The Mole

School Department

Here's a budget-buster that the school department doesn't want you to know about......the school department continues to bus all students who choose to attend the Undios Program. If you try to find out how much this busing costs, you will probably be told that it is not happening. Yet it is, and the city pays not only for buses, but for bus monitors, and for teachers to supervise the loading of the buses. One explanation also given is that it is required due to the fact that these students are not english-speaking. That is not true. The requirement to bus non-english speakers refers to those who must attend SEIP (bilingual) classes be bussed wherever they are held. Non-english speakers who choose to attend Unidos do not fit into that category. And that explanation certainly does not explain why we are busing english speaking Unidos students! And yet, my neighbors' kid skipped pre-school because they couldn't get to the Capuano School, and now their choices for elementary school are limited by their lack of transportation. Why are we wasting this money in a time of tight budgets?

Tricky

Please elaborate more on the situation of your neighbor's kid, S.D. Where in the city are they located so that a) they couldn't get to Capuano and b) they're now facing limited choices for elementary school?

We had acquaintances with a kid at the Brown who still managed to get their pre-schooler over to Capuano.

City Hall Nose

Is it true the school Committee is short by one? Rumors around the streets are that the School Committee woman from Ward 4 did not have enough signatures in for bid for re-election.

Anyone have the scoop?

Pre-School

Tricky, why so sarcastic? Many people don't have transportation. Yes, buses are available across the city, but not all bus routes/homes are convenient to the Capuano School. And did you ever carry an infant, or hang onto a toddler, while getting a pre-schooler to school every day by bus? It's not easy. DOn't forget, their schedule is 8:45-1:30 every day, 8:45-11:30 on 1/2 day Wednesdays - not a lot of 'turn around' time! Many people who work have child care arrangements which do not include transporting to and from school, and if your job schedule conflicts with school schedule, you cannot get them there yourself. Trust me, there are many kids across the city with parents who won't or can't get their kid to the lovely 'early childhood center'. I'd venture it serves more middle to upper-class pre-schoolers than low-income or immigrant pre-schoolers.

Somerville Resident

All these people should come out and vote for change this time! Otherwise they cannot complain.

"I'd venture it serves more middle to upper-class pre-schoolers than low-income or immigrant pre-schoolers."

Ron Newman

Yes, as discussed in another thread, there will be an all-write-in election for School Committee in Ward 4, because nobody returned papers with sufficient signatures.

City Hall Nose

And we want this person to continue as Ward 4 School Committtee person when she can't even get enough signatures or forgets to turn them in?

Come on Ward 4 people, vote for a change. Why subject our children to this type of leadership.

Tricky

No sarcasm intended, P-S, although I am curious at to the whereabouts of the previous poster. It's a given that the Capuano is inconvenient to get to, where are these people that their school choices are limited by transportation? Ten Hills? Boston Ave and Route 16? I'll admit to not hustling the Trickettes around on the bus much during their toddler years, but I've done enough time pushing a double stroller through the snow over the years to know that getting your kids someplace is a pretty rotten task.

I'll also agree the hours are tough for working parents. (I've had enough of this half-day Wednesday B.S. also...) Is there an after-school option for the Capuano? And even if kids are covered until 5:30, what time do you think you have to leave work to pull this off? When I worked downtown, it used to be 4:30. Payback for that sort of stunt stinks after awhile, too. You count on friends chipping in, buy favors from your boss, pay for sitters, etc.

As far as busing requirements, I think the city has to provide transportation if you're not within two and a half miles of the school you're assigned to, unless it's your choice to attend that school. SEIP students probably get crosstown transportation.

Ron Newman

But in a city as small as ours, I wonder how often that provision takes effect. On Broadway, it's only 3.2 miles from the Arlington line (Route 16) to the Charlestown line (Mt. Pleasant Street).

Tricky

Ron, apparently it's two miles. There's been a little dust-up this year with kids in the Kennedy and Brown neighborhoods being slotted to the new school at Lincoln Park (becuase there's no room at Brown or Kennedy), and some of the parents are requesting transportation, which I think might have to be provided.

I'm not sure if this is a trend that's going to get worse down the road, or an anomaly, but there seem to be more kids around. When we moved eight years ago, there were two kindergarteners on the block, couple older kids (whose old-line families have all since moved to NH), and the senior Trickette. Now we've got the two Trickettes, at least half a dozen kids under five and more coming AFAIK.

Maybe this should be addressed to Shelton, but I think the more people who are aware the train's coming (as some may put it, "yuppies with kids"), aldermen, school committee, bureaucrats, etc., the better.

Somerville Bussing??

I don't believe that busing is required regardless of the distance, except for students in the SEIP Program who must attend a particular school for their language classes. The point is, Unidos is not a 'SEIP' class, it is a choice that people may make. Just like the Choice Program at the Healey - do any students get bussed to that program? No. So no students should be receiving transportation to the Unidos program, most especially the English speaking students! Especially when you have other students told there is no transportation available to the Capuano or to any other school! The point is, busing is a huge expense, and it should not be happening, but it's the 'dirty little secret' of the school department that noone wants to talk about.
As far as after-school at the Capuano, there is a program for the Kindergarten students. They have begun to accept a VERY LIMITED number of pre-school students in recent years.

somerville old timer

Tricky: I'm with you on the 1/2 day wednesday stuff. What's with that? How are parents supposed to work?

Somerville Resident

"busing is a huge expense"

Any idea on the actual numbers?

Tricky

Try looking at the after-school options: last I looked you can pick three days (any three), or five days, but if you pick the three day option you can't pick half-Wednesdays. Sounds a little archaic.

OTOH, the School Department seems to be on the need for after-school to meet demand, so kudos to that (reportedly, there was a twenty person wait list at one school during the spring).

The city is legally required to provide bussing if a student does not get to go to a school of their choice and they are assigned to a school over two miles from their home; SEIP students are the exception to this rule.
I'm not sure why they'd be bussing Unidos students, maybe they're West Somerville students shut out from their preferred schools. (Can we get someone in the know to comment about this?) The city may not have to provide transportation for Capuano preschool classes, only for the kindergarten.

Townie

If there is a law requiring bussing if more than 2 miles from your school, I'm not aware of it. I don't think any town does that, and it would be rather odd since Somerville is only 4 square miles! At any rate, I would doubt it would apply to K or to Pre-K, since you are not required to attend either by law. The Unidos students being bussed (all who wish the 'service'), are any and all students attending Unidos. Most make a choice to go there, and are not 'shut out' of any school. There may be some for whom Unidos is their second choice, but that's not as common as first choice. Again, the school department (and school committee) won't talk about it, and will repeat the old line of 'being required to bus SEIP students'. They won't acknowledge that this is a different situation.
Also, I'm not sure that the after-school care at Capuano is part of the city-wide after school program, because I don't think you can pick a 3 or 5 day option. I think 5 days is the only option (I believe I recall people requesting fewer days, and being told that was not an option).

Tricky

I'd bet Ron Newman, cyber-Esq. (or JAR), could find the Mass. law regarding transportation over two miles. I know Somerville's pretty small, but Powderhouse Square to Union Square is over two miles, and there's a bit more in either direction from there.

Your comment about the preschool and kindergarten not being required is well taken, which makes sense regarding our friends at the Capuano. As far as Unidos, the only thing I can think of is that the city gets enough state or federal funds to provide transportation for students in a bilingual program. Other than that, I'm stumped.

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