There is a problem with Question 1 -- "The Override" -- on the ballot for March 12. We are asked to spend money to "address the condition and capacity of Zervas Elementary School". In general we would support overrides of Prop 2 1/2 that fund needed infrastructure improvements; indeed we would vote for the other parts of this question if it were possible to separate them from the Zervas issue.
One of the historical reasons for overcrowding in Zervas and other schools was an egregious decision made by the Newton School Committee some 24 years ago: to close the Emerson School in Upper Falls. Responding to a temporary dip in school enrollment that took place in the mid 1970s, the Committee ignored its own advisors and the ample demographic evidence of a rebounding school-age population in Newton. It made its decision based almost entirely on political bullying, social stereotyping, and its own ignorance. The result was a permanent shortage of classroom space that has been a plague throughout the city, but especially in the "south side."
Not only did the village of Upper Falls lose its historic neighborhood school, but its children became permanent wayfarers: bused first from one school then to another -- one year to Countryside, another to Angier, then to Zervas, and now to all three. Next door neighbors would often go to different schools in different years. Had Emerson stayed open, most of this could have have been avoided.
You would think that after such a colossal blunder, School Committees would be interested in studying all aspects of the elementary school enrollment issue before making another important decision. Yet, we now find a rush to patch up the Zervas school through an override, without even considering the possible solution of building another elementary school in Upper Falls. There are certainly adequate sites, the costs could be fairly easily estimated, and there are many logistical and financial advantages.
We are not saying that this would or even could be the best thing to do, but not to even consider the option -- it isn't even on a future agenda of the School Committee -- is to ask us to vote without considering all viable alternatives -- to risk buying a pig in a poke and to perpetuate an obvious and lingering inequity.