A number of parents have written to us recently to share with us the news of MVRCS decision to put the incoming Kindergartner classrooms (for the school year 2011-2012) in the new athletic complex. We're not even sure where to start on this issue except to state our disbelief.
Our first concern is that we thought we had heard when the athletic facility was first announced that one major issue the school had to address before purchasing it was that of an environmental or safety issue of the land itself. If we remember our information correctly, the concern was that due to the nature of the businesses of the previous tenants, the school had to have the land checked to see if it would be safe for a school building (or occupancy?). We thought we had heard that the reason the school chose not to use the land for the building of a new school facility (of which many thought would be more prudent and in alignment with the mission of the school) was that the land was not approved for such a facility. Of course given that a group of students are still using the building (5 times a week for 2.5 hours) that has been deemed unusable for Malden Firefighters, this should come as no surprise to anyone. Furthermore, the fact that a 2006 report by the state called into question the effectiveness of the HVAC system and the importance of keeping windows open for air flow (yet the library has no windows that can be opened), AND YET nothing has been done about such system. Why would we think that the school would feel any need to pay attention to safety issues when dealing with our children?
The other issues we have with this decision is in regards to the logistical implications of having a single grade at yet ANOTHER facility. One concern many parents of older children have is the pick-up and drop-off issue for parents. Specifically how parents can be at two different facilities at the same time. Of course the school could implement a shuttle service for the kindergartners as they have done for the HS students but are they going to then also implement a charge for that service? Let's not forget that this year when they began charging for the bus how the school tried to break the rules of the Department of Education regarding transportation. First with the linear v. driven miles issue where they tried to implement a policy that only provided transportation to those who were 2 LINEAR miles or more from the school (the DOE requires DRIVEN miles). Then they tried to make the Lebanon street a 'hub' and even if a student lived more than 2 driven miles from the HS but not the lower school they were (and may still be) charging a transportation fee (the DOE requires that it be from the facility the student attends not a 'hub' facility). Additionally, any time required for transportation would cut into the learning day of the Kindergartners who have always had the same amount of learning time as the lower facility students. Of course we'd like to believe that the school would be honest and do as is required by them but then again, we're talking about Neil Kinnon the man who doesn't believe laws and rules apply to him.
Besides the transportation issue we can't imagine the logistical issues regarding specialists, medical needs, lunch needs, and the other general needs of the students and teachers. A prime example would be that regarding instruct time. As it stands currently the students are grouped by ability, at times requiring students in one grade to attend reading/math lessons within a different grade. Kindergartners have been known to go to higher grade classrooms for reading instruction and likewise, some 1st have received reading/math instruction within the Kindergarten classes. This move would make that impossible and makes us question how the school will handle such situations. Additionally will the specialists (such as special education, art, music, PE, etc.) all be required to travel between schools? What about library? While the current location of the library and the manner in which library is conducted is less than ideal, is it going to become even more convoluted? What about behavior issues where children are sent to Chris Finn's office (we've heard that Dr. McCleary is going to have his office in this facility and is going to handle such issues). According to our sources the facility is going to have it's own nurse and receptionist and house many of the Administration. We're sure this will all turn into even more opportunity for Neil Kinnon to employ his friends and family members (and those other folks who have become unemployable like his good friend Gately).
We also have to question if this is the schools way of attempting to increase the number of students they currently have. We recall that classless recruitment ad that MVRCS public relations put out disrespecting Malden that was regarding increasing the cap currently in place. We question if as a result of the huge expense they are incurring to build the athletic facility they are not looking to increase income. Let us also not forget the current situation regarding the loss of income (and ability to extort field space) from the City of Malden. While the school may be hoping to tear down the Maplewood station to eventually allow the facility to accommodate additional students, we've heard that the building may be protected as a historical monument which would prevent any such plan. Of course while Kinnon has truly made a horses a** out of himself regarding the Firestation fiasco, it is worth mentioning that his argument in support of keeping the firefighters there is that Deb Fallon faked the mold reports. The ironic part is that his argument FOR being able to tear down a potential historical building is that it is infested with mold. Which is it Mr. 'The Truth Is Of Little Consequence' Kinnon?
Regardless of all of our reasons for finding this move less than brilliant, we find ourselves questioning how much thought and/or the ulterior motives of MVRCS in making this decision. While most would agree that the lower facility is less than adequate in housing the number of students they currently have there, this does not seem like the best solution. It is no secret that Neil Kinnon has been quoted as saying that he refuses to build a new lower school facility until they are eligible for the same funding as are the public schools. So if we understand him correctly, he'll build an athletic facility and create havoc to the children by having it house some of the students but he won't put the funds into building a much needed lower school facility out of spite (even though it would be much more in alignment with the schools Mission and Charter)? It would appear as though he is a very spiteful man as we have also heard that in his true anti-union stance he has stated that he would close the school down if the teachers unionized (umm, isn't that illegal?). What a fine, fine man he is.....
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