Back when I started this blog, I touched a bit on why exactly the space problem at the high school level concerned me. I have two kids, so that’s obvious. But here’s the big issue for me: I’ve been here before.
Back in the late 1970s, I used to hear the school bus for the high schoolers in the early morning hours. I used to watch the high school kids get off the bus from the dinner table. It wasn’t that Bellingham had an exceptionally long school day — far from it. Our high school was on double sessions because of overcrowding, and the teenagers in my neighborhood were either going to school from before dawn until noon or from noon until dinner time.
Bellingham High School at the time held grades 7-12. We were supposed to get a middle school, but that didn’t happen. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it — what kind of education were those high schoolers getting in just half a day… and what were they doing with themselves the rest of the day?
We’ve been talking about a new high school here in Grafton, but I have yet to hear of Plan B — what happens if the high school doesn’t pass? How are we planning to shoehorn all these kids into our schools?
It’s never something that’s really discussed in public, although Joe Connors did mention at the school forum yesterday that some of the “scary stuff” would be discussed at School Committee tomorrow night. I have brought it up with both Connors and Grafton High Principal Jim Pignataro.
The answer is, there is no set answer. Maybe trailers in the parking lot. Maybe double sessions. The fact is, the building isn’t going to be able to hold those students — so where are we going to put them?
Bellingham’s eventual solution, from a student’s standpoint, was not a terrific one. Forced, I believe by court order, to stop the double sessions, they opted to cram the seventh graders into the elementary schools. Let’s just say that an open double classroom (this was the ’70s) that might be suitable for a first grader is ridiculously noisy and small when it comes to a seventh grader.
I don’t see that solution available to Grafton. The high school’s crowded, the middle school is even more crowded, and there’s so little space at South Grafton Elementary School they have to have a kindergarten class attend three days a week so they can offer art to the rest of the school the remaining two days.
I think it’s time to discuss the scary stuff. What is Plan B?