Thinking about schools . . .
It’s September and the schools are open. Traffic seems to have doubled, the first rental truck has smashed into a Storrow Drive overpass, and we all have now had the anxious experience of following that yellow school bus stopping every 30 seconds along our winding roads while our first appointment of the day looms.
Our oldest grandchildren are now engaging the formal school process. Little Simon is three years old and heading off to his first nursery school. After his parents carefully showed him the school, explained it and introduced the teachers, he considered all this carefully and announced: “I will go if someone from my family goes with me.” Not a bad thought, actually. His older cousin Graham, almost five, started kindergarten in Brooklyn this past week. We had the privilege of taking him for his school haircut and then off to buy a cool new lunchbox. Then, my wife and my daughter walked him to school for his first day. After a tense day or two of adjustment, he is now happy as a clam.
These experiences have caused me to consider how important schools are to the future of our children and, indeed, to the continuation of a stable society. What happens in the home and then the school is a huge determinant of who we are and what we will become as a society.
This comes into play for me as I currently undertake a significant new responsibility. It seems my propensity to become involved in town governance did not end with our move to Concord. I have volunteered to Co-Chair the Concord committee responsible for the planning and construction of a new middle school. The current two middle schools will be combined into a single building on the Sanborn site. With luck my experience with town government and as a member of the high school building committee will prove beneficial.
The committee is comprised of a wonderful group of dedicated and knowledgeable citizens and employees of Concord. I have so much to learn and consider: maker rooms, the current status of team teaching and student neighborhoods, the amazing opportunities for future energy conservation and sustainability, and the dramatic and ongoing integration of technology to all facets of school life.
We must also deal with the staggering cost increase of building schools. Recently, construction expenses have been increasing six to seven percent per year. A middle school for approximately 750 kids may cost as much as our recently built high school which accommodates 1250 students. As decisions are made one must be constantly mindful of the impact of this cost to all the citizens.
Carlisle residents should feel good about the efforts resulting in the Carlisle facilities that will support the town well for many years. To replace the school complex in Carlisle these days would most probably cost over $100 million, a staggering sum. We should be grateful for the amazing facilities that we now have.
In the end, both time and money expended on schools is well spent. When I think about little Simon’s comment, I realize that so many people go off to school with all our kids. They are joined by their supportive families, together with so many dedicated educational professionals, the people that build and maintain the schools and the incredibly generous and far-thinking people who pay for them. ∆