An interesting article in yesterday’s New York Times on changes coming to a classroom near you: digital textbooks. The article, by Tamar Lewin, talks about pilot projects in school districts in Arizona, Louisiana and California that are replacing traditional printed textbooks with online, digital equivalents, or even “open source” texts compiled from materials and lessons generated by teachers or from public (and reliable) sources of information online.
At Winn Brook Elementary, for example, Principal Janet Carey wrote this week that she fielded around 700 applications for four open positions at that school to replace retiring staff or accomodate larger than expected classes: one first grade teacher, two, fourth grade teachers and an art teacher. That’s 175 applicants per position, or an acceptance rate of just over one half of one percent, on average. Compare that with Harvard University’s comparatively generous 7% acceptance rate (2,046 of 29,112 applicants) this year. No surprise: Belmont ended up with some top flight candidates to fill those open positions.
I’ve heard from the Wellington Building Committee that my recent post on Wellington goodness which presented some artist’s renderings and site plans for the new Wellington Elementary presented site plans that are not the latest and greatest and that there’s some confusion about some of the content of those drawings. I’ve been asked to take down both the site plans and the artist’s renderings of the school interior to avoid further confusion, and complied with that request.
There will be a public meeting tomorrow evening to discuss the progress of the New Wellington Elementary project.
Belmont’s latest consolidation plan is the product of an informal and closed door group of the Town’s senior elected officials that some have dubbed the “Officers’ Group.” Is Belmont closing the doors on Open Government?
With all the debate in town about preserving our elementary school libraries, I couldn’t help but note this story on the front page of today’s New York Times about sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury’s crusade to preserve public libraries in his home, Ventura County, California.
A letter from the Save Our Libraries Committee urges the School Committee to allocate funds recently diverted from the Town’s free cash to maintain Library Aide positions. Read the full letter.
Belmont’s name showed up on a list of 11 Bay State towns that had passed Prop 2 1/2 overrides, despite the rough economy. The article, on the front page of today’s Globe,talks about overrides for schools, libraries and public services passing in towns like Rockland, Milton.
If nothing else, the Wellington reminds us all that investing in our public schools — investing in the future of Belmont — is something that’s just…good. It enriches us all far beyond the meager costs we pay (around $1 a day, on average, for the new Wellington school).
This year’s marathon, multi-session Town Meeting might be best remembered for what wasn’t heard last night: a single dissenting voice among the more than 200 assembled Town Meeting members to a motion to allocate more than $39 million for reconstruction of the Wellington Elementary School. The unanimous vote in favor was sweet victory for all those who have battled to have the aging school rebuilt!