It seems a gazzilion years ago my kids were at Ripley School here in good old Ward Seven, Melrose. Somehow they decided I should be President of the Ripley Parent Teachers Association. At that time the principal was Ms. Ethal Benson who, I must admit, was a most outstanding woman full of life and intellect.
As President of the PTA I wasted no time in asking Ms. Benson, "What do you need most?"
She wasted no time either, "Money! I need the local parents to show how badly we need an add-on room to this school and the only way to get it is by a show of contributions to the School Committee. A new auditorium will make this a complete school."
With that, I proceeded to put the hit on every parent and some non-parents in our area and we came up with over $6000. That was, even to me, an impressive sum back in the 1960's. The wonderful Ms. Benson was then able to demonstrate to the School Committee our subscription to her conviction that Ripley needed that room. We got it!
They built the room/hall which you can see there now. It is used for not only school purposes but for voting in our elections and for meetings of all types. I have always felt rather proud for having had a hand in that.
Over the years in which decisions were made to trash the old Coolidge School, the old Washington School, the D.W.Gooch School and others (Warren, Whittier, Franklin and the Livermore), we also saw times in which we poor taxpayers were victimized by abysmal poor judgement by town fathers which caused over eight million dollars in absolutely unproductive debt. Now that debt will not be paid off until the year 2015!
Any city can make lousy decisions. My point is that at this time in 2002, this city faces a period in which moneys from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are not forthcoming as before, and we are in a period of austerity. In the 48 years I have been a resident in the Ripley School neighborhood, that school has been a most productive gem and a focal point in the area. It is not old; it is not decrepit in any sense and the MCAS scores of Ripley students, I am informed, are excellent. In spite of those facts, the current Superintendent of Schools and the School Committee seek to do one of the following offensive objectives: close and sell the school; trash its grades and make it only a two-kindergarten location; force local grammar school kids to be transported by bus to either the new Lincoln School, or elsewhere.
All of this concept is in violation of the desires of ALL the Ward Seven taxpayers and those who have come to cherish Ripley School for the productive plant that it has shown to be.
The current Superintendent of Schools is about to retire and thus will not be required to face the wrath of local parents whose children will suffer a downgraded education with this faulty judgement, which I class in the same catagory as the "Tot Lot" and the breach of contract case with the fire fighters for which taxpayers are now required to pay $700,000!
It is a shame. Closing the Ripley School will be just another case among an unfortunate long list which really should not be allowed by taxpayers to happen. Thanks for lis'nin'.
May 3, 2002