To the Editor of the Needham Times:
The October 20, 2011 edition of the Needham Times reported on the concern a few Newman parents have expressed over the transportation of their Kindergarteners on a combined bus in the afternoon from the Pollard modular classrooms to the Newman campus.
The bus, which first makes a run to each elementary school to pick up our Boston resident students, is successfully being deployed to make an additional stop at Pollard to shuttle and drop off Newman’s Kindergarteners to Newman before it takes the remaining students home to Boston. The use of this bus to shuttle Newman’s Kindergarteners is convenient, cost effective, and safe. Despite some logistical challenges on both campuses this fall, we have worked to ensure student safety and provide an efficient transportation plan for all students. I want to take this opportunity to thank our Newman families for their patience and cooperation as we strive to make each day smoother for their children.
I want to express my disappointment, however, at the one or two parents quoted in the article whose comments and language suggest that Newman Kindergarteners are somehow placed in an untenable situation with other Needham elementary students on the brief bus ride to Newman. That is simply not the case. I am particularly concerned about the comment: “I don’t know these children. They’re not my neighborhood kids. I don’t know what their conversations would be, and I’m not ready for my child to be exposed to that.” As reported, this comment reveals more about the parent’s own fears and prejudices than it does about the reality of a seven-minute ride on a bus, which happens to be filled with exceptional young people from our elementary schools.
The comment also is clearly not representative of other Newman parents who, like parents throughout Needham, value diversity and a sense of community that supports strong and enduring friendships between and among all students regardless of the school they attend or the neighborhood—Needham or Boston—in which they live.
Indeed, this short hop from Pollard to Newman will provide a wonderful opportunity in the coming months for Needham Public School elementary students to get a chance to learn and care about one another. That’s really what we want our children exposed to.
Needham Public Schools