Growing up in the city's West End, a pastime was playing "kick the can." It was a blast to gather up kids to play this version of hide and seek.
I prided myself on finding just the right hiding place close enough to the can to come racing out and kick the ball before being spotted, in order to free all of those who had been spotted and were waiting to be freed.
The term has taken on political implications: "Kicking the can" now signifies a short-sighted approach substituted for the more difficult solution to long-range challenges.
The Massachusetts truism states "all politics is local," which appears now more than ever to be relevant in light of the North Adams Public School system's current predicament: the case for renovating Conte School.
My family moved to Kemp Avenue in 2011, very close to Sullivan School. The notion of walking my daughter to school every morning was certainly an attractive idea when considering our move to the neighborhood. In light of the developments over the past 18 months involving the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), the North Adams School Committee, the City Council and all interested citizens of North Adams, it appears as though my days of walking my daughter to Sullivan School may be numbered.
As a parent of three students who attend Drury, Greylock and Sullivan schools respectively, I have witnessed the successes, challenges, changes and commitment within the North Adams Public School system. I understand the public school system requires diverse and innovative improvements in order to maximize the benefits to our children. This includes more than the "bricks and mortar" project that will benefit the Conte renovation.
However, I do not see the commonwealth offering 80 percent reimbursement for the numerous other services, programs and curriculum modifications designed to improve the public school system. The fact is the commonwealth through the MSBA has committed to North Adams, its students, educators and parents through a "bricks and mortar" project. The option has been vetted, researched and presented to the public through numerous information sessions and public forums.
As a parent of a student in the midst of the Sullivan-Conte cost/benefit analysis, I ask all of us to look past our own circumstance, which includes obtaining a broader perspective of what will benefit our children's education for many years to come.
Clearly, the implication of "kicking the can" has nothing to do with the hide-and-seek game of my youth. The whole idea of kicking the can, at least in our neighborhood, was to free all my pals who were waiting to be freed.
I wholeheartedly plan on kicking the proverbial can again -- not further down the road, but in the spirit of freeing those held captive.
The educational, social and economic impact of a state-of-the-art, environmentally sound, K-7 Conte School is the best option for the immediate and long-range quality of our public education system.