Sunday, December 7, 2008

Bates school preview - Dec. 5

It took me five minutes to walk to the Bates from my house, including waiting for the traffic light to change. Upon my arrival, I pulled the door of the main entrance and found it to be locked. I waited around awkwardly before seeing the buzzer to the right. This is the first school I’ve encountered where you have to be buzzed in. (Edited to add: Apparently this is a common feature in many BPS schools. I just hadn't noticed until now. So much for my brilliant powers of observation. I think parents tend to arrive in packs and hold the doors for one another.)

Bates teaches about 300 students, with two strands of nearly every class, minus K1 and fifth. They also have an advanced work program for fourth and fifth graders.

There is only one K1 classroom, which is new this year. Eight of those K1 students are regular ed, and the other seven are special ed. There’s one teacher and one paraprofessional. Physically, it’s a smaller space than the K2 classrooms. On the K2 level, there are 44 open seats, not including the eight regular ed K1 students moving up.

Their special classes include music, science, computers, physical education, and literacy enrichment. Currently, students have weekly PE, but the principal said she’s going to try to formally increase students’ physical activity next year (maybe another PE class?). Unfortunately, there isn’t a dedicated science classroom. The science teacher goes to the regular classroom, or if necessary, does experiments in the auditorium.

The Bates also lacks a library. The principal, who’s in her first year there, said she just wrote a grant for new books, and they’re trying to make room for a little library in the building.

The before- and after-school programs are run by the Y at the Bates. The Y also has a program where you can drop off your child (at the Y) during the summer and on snow days. That could be very useful for days when I need to work from home. The Y doesn’t take kids under 5, so K1ers have to be bussed over to the Roslindale Community Center’s after-school program. The RCC doesn’t have a before-school program. After-school music lessons – mostly piano – are offered through Artisan Music Studios at the Bates.

Through Technology Goes Home, fourth- and fifth-graders get free computer instruction, along with their parents.

Their playground is relatively new, and when the weather gets cold, there is an auditorium for indoor activities.

On the plus side is location. Like I said, I live really close. On the minus side is location. I may catch flack for pointing this out, but the Bates is across the street from the Washington-Beech public housing project. Overall, that development is relatively quiet, but you occasionally hear of a few bad apples. The brick buildings are being replaced by mixed-income townhouses and apartments within the next few years. It’s just something to be aware of. You may remember there was an incident about a year ago where the Bates and Conley schools went into lockdown because of a shooting that happened a few blocks away. Some guys were driving back from a funeral and were shot at in their car, which eventually came to a stop near Washington and Beech.

All that said, the school itself seemed very orderly, clean, and safe. Obviously, it’s in our walk zone, and I think I would feel okay sending my son there.


Adam Gaffin said...

Hi! I live a couple minutes away from the Bates, too. We actually had it on our short list, but decided against it in part because of the uniform policy.

One minor correction: That shooting (which happened right at my daughter's bus stop, although fortunately a couple hours before she would have gotten off the bus) actually had a lot to do with Washington-Beech (that's why the limo came to a stop outside the Bates). There was a single apartment whose occupants were linked to six or seven shootings in the area, but fortunately, the BHA evicted them, finally.

Anonymous said...

love the blog!
we live close too but were kind of non-plussed. no art. an afterschool program that seems like it is mostly baby-sitting. but they do have advanced work, which is hard to overlook completely.
as an aside-I live in the area and feel it is pretty safe. cars driving fast are probably a much bigger risk to little kids than the people living nearby.

Geeky Mama said...

All good points. I'll take out that sentence, Adam.

Kristina said...

I am surprised that this is the first school that you have encountered with the buzzer at the entrance to the school. You must have been lucky at the others - walking in while others were walking out, student greeters, etc.

Every school (except for the Mozart) that I have visited has had a buzzer system. This has included many schools that you have visited as we've often been on the same tours on the same days. (for example, Lyndon, Haley, Philbrick, Manning, Beethovan)

I view the buzzer system as a good thing, not something to be concerned about. Most of the principals mention the buzzer system as a positive part of their security system.

Geeky Mama said...

You're right, Kristina. I've always entered other schools when other parents were going in. I guess they did the buzzing and I never noticed it until now.