Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Big Issues of 2009 Already Taking Shape

Only a few days after posting my own thoughts on the big Beacon Hill issues to close out 2008, and we're already getting a peak at the issues that face us to start 2009.

1) A neighborhood school downtown. A story in the new edition of the Beacon Hill Times talks about a new community movement afoot in the West End to build a new public elementary school as part of Government Center Garage proposed project. The story in the Times includes a photo of West End parent Chiara Rhouate, who is apparently leading a group called The Coalition for Public Eduction: Expanding Quality Education for Downtown Neighborhoods, which already has the support of new President of the West End Civic Association, Duane Lucia.

It will be interesting to see if the new group gains support from parents on Beacon Hill, who no doubt are still recovering from a campaign to bring a public school to their neighborhood. A few years ago, some Beacon Hill neighbors pressed the City to convert a former Emerson dormitory on Brimmer Street into a public school. The City opposed the idea, and today that building is a private school.

The issue of a neighborhood school raises a lot of emotions that often overshadow the very nature of the Boston Public School system, something even I don't fully grasp. But I know enough to understand that even with a local elementary school, parents are in no way guaranteed that their children will attend there. The Boston Public School system uses a lottery to determine the schools children will attend.

2) The deterioration of Downtown Crossing. A post on Universal Hub best summarizes concerns about crime in the Downtown Crossing area, given the economic crisis and the fact that many retail storefronts along Downtown Crossing streets are empty. Gunfire in broad daylight last Friday has risen the recent concern.

You can bet I will be watching both these issues closely in the weeks to come and will be adding my own thoughts as I learn more about them.


Adam Gaffin said...

A clarification on neighborhood schools: Although a lottery is involved, 50% of the seats each year are basically guaranteed to kids within the school's "walk zone" (a one-mile radius around the school).

Ross Levanto said...

Thanks for the clarification, Adam!