Letters to the Editor

May 7, 2015
By

Thank you to snow angels

Dear Mayor Rizzo,

Through you and the City of Revere, we would like to commend the Snow Angels Program. These young men and women of the RHS ROTC, a great group of kids. They were so kind and helpful to us during this monumental winter season.

Thank you again,

Barbara and Ken Liberatore

 

Faith has been restored

Dear Editor:

My faith in juries and the U.S. justice system has finally been restored — after the verdict of murder in the first degree was handed down in the Aaron Hernandez case (April 16). After being disillusioned with the “not guilty” verdicts for O.J. Simpson and, more recently, in the infamous Casey Anthony case, the verdict on Hernandez was welcome news.

Although Odin Lloyd is no longer with us, justice did prevail on his behalf.

Ann M. Raponi

Waiver application will cause issues

Dear Editor:

 I am writing as a parent of a third grade student at the Paul Revere School. I am also a Governing Board member for the Paul Revere School and have been for the last 3 years and a PTO member for the last 4 years.

 The proposed Waiver application will cause issues and problems for families with siblings and school employees who have children in other schools besides the Paul Revere within the Revere School District. Last year the Governing Board took up a vote to have a different calendar and I voted in favor of it to go along with the teacher’s decision. Since that vote and hearing feedback from parents I realized that it was the wrong decision because I did not take into account the problems and conflicts that I stated regarding sibling and school employees that are in different Revere Public School buildings. One reason I did not look at this was because I only had one child in the school system and that was a big mistake on my part that I still regret. With the proposed Paul Revere School calendar starting September instead of August with the rest of district and ending earlier in June than at the same time as the district, this does not benefit anyone for accommodating their vacation unless they only have children in the Paul Revere School and are not school employees in any other Revere Public School building. I feel that we need to have continuity and some consistency within a school district for the school calendar.

 The waiver application mentions certain reasons for applying to the DOE. They mention students will be in school for an additional 18 minutes a day for four days to increase learning time. Followed up by this increase of time on learning will come at a critical time (frontloading) of the year when students are immersed in curriculum without weather interruptions. And an earlier completion of the school year would allow for two summer school sessions. I always thought Frontloading a school year is to start in August like we have been doing until the proposed 2015-2016 school year and does not have anything to do with adding time to the school day or shorting the school calendar. The two articles that are referenced in the waiver Gilman, R.P (2015) and Vetter, C (2014) also state that fact.  I have asked in the past at our Governing Board meetings when the teachers bring up they need more time for curriculum why can’t we adjust our Wednesday PD day the answer I usually receive is if we change it we will never get it back. Please do not get me wrong, I am not saying to get rid of PD for the teachers all I am saying is to just delay it by 72 minutes on Wednesday. Instead of having a 12:30 dismissal add the 72 minutes which is the total minutes that they want to add on the 4 days combined to Wednesday and go to 1:42 and start the clock there just like Dr. Dakin mentioned to a parent/teacher from the Whalen School at a previous school committee meeting on January 20, 2015. At our past Governing Board meeting when this waiver was up for discussion and vote I asked again about PD and could not get an answer and felt my question kept getting deflected. The Wednesday dismissal seems to me to be so counterproductive in their education. By adding the 72 minutes to Wednesdays I feel there would be more of an educational value for the students. This option would be so much more beneficial and keep a consistent educational schedule for our students by adding the total proposed time on a day that has limited educational time. Another reason to change the early dismissal is in regards to children watching the movie/enrichment. The movie is in the gym on the floor for older students or the cafeteria for the younger students. Our ratios are so high when it comes to student versus Para. Any given week on average it could be 60-1. That number is so high and how are the Para’s and volunteers trained on safety and if an emergency occurs? Also a lot of these enrichments for the Wednesday’s were opened up to all students and has added and will add more students. We are adding some partners and groups from the outside for these Wednesday enrichments but most of them are for 1 hour and students will still be going back and forth to the movies. This will cause disruptions and cause students to become disengaged. This in itself I feel is another reason to bring back time to the school day on Wednesday’s for educating the students. If we added the 72 minutes to Wednesdays that would only mean that there would be 1 hour that we would need to facilitate the children that need it and hopefully some of the partners we bring or have will help alleviate the numbers. To sum it all up about the issue on the school days/calendar, do not shorten the school calendar and keep the 182 days and just add time to the Wednesdays.

Vacation time also needs to have some continuity and was mentioned at a school committee meeting by Dr. Dakin on March 10, 2015. He gave a great explanation why school vacations could not be changed from having a February and March vacation to just an April vacation within a school district. A change like this would have to be state wide because of issues with school teachers and employees with children who are students in other school districts. That summation is a great reason that should also be applied to the Paul Revere School for not being able to have a different calendar such as this. I know we have full autonomy for scheduling but I believe that this is over and above what the definition is to scheduling autonomy.

Another issue in the waiver application mentions that adding the 18 minutes per day is an anticipated decrease In the amount of late pick-ups by allowing more time for parents to get here in a timely manner. If Parents or whoever they have picking up their children are late it should have been dealt with immediately from the start. That seems to be a legal issue for the police or truancy officer and should not be everyone else’s problem or burden and not a valid reason for the added time.

Children are only children once we need to let them be able to take part  in activates outside of the school such as dance, karate, gymnastics, scouts and sports. A lot of these activities they belong to are outside of our city boundaries’ and they do take time to get to. By adding more time to the school day we are severely limiting these activities that they have been involved in for numerous years and have established great social and diverse relationships. Children need social time and social skills along with family time. Numerous studies out there show that the children of today lack a lot of social skills, skills that cannot be taught just in the classroom. Parents need to be able to schedule doctor, dentist and other appointments for children. Even though you may think 18 minutes is not a lot it can make a difference when you need to schedule an appointment that is in Boston or somewhere outside of Revere. Contrary to a comment that was made at one of my recent meetings Wednesday is not always available for appointments or activities.

 The last reason mentioned for this waiver is: limiting the absences of students who leave in June to return to native countries/vacation, which will result in less term three failures. How will this be applicable if families still have students in other schools?  Won’t their other children still fail for absences? I thought the reason for issuing a school calendar at the end of the previous year would alleviate this problem by allowing families to plan accordingly and add days in case of inclement weather to schedule their vacation. You would think that families should try not to plan vacations until at least July since a child’s education is their number one priority.

At the Paul Revere School we do have an option to add more time to education without adding time to the end of school day. This is a very viable, economical and sensible option. We should add the time to Wednesdays first before we implement any other change. The teachers mentioned that they were being creative with their work hours and no pay increase was added for the extra time so that should not be an issue. Let’s be innovative and add more time in a way to not create conflicts within families or alter family time for anyone.

 Thank you for your time,

 Ralph DeCicco

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