In an all-school assembly on Friday, Newton South’s interim principal, Dr. Brenda Keegan, presented a bold new approach to the classroom overcrowding problem. “Our efforts so far have not been terribly successful,” said Keegan. “We must step in an entirely different direction if we hope to make progress.”
Class sizes and the school’s overall population continue to grow faster than the city’s budget does. “The increasing pressures on our schools have led many administrations to be increasingly unorthodox with their solutions to all sorts of problems,” said Dr. Jeffrey Young, superintendent of schools in Newton. Recent measures have included pretending some students are really absent, assigning teachers two classes at once, and encouraging the spread of colds.
These methods have been somewhat unpopular among the teachers, who believe that they should be paid extra for being in multiple places simultaneously. With the new policy, Keegan hopes, the class size problem will evaporate and everyone will be much happier with the school system’s performance. “The key,” she explained, “is to encourage students to miss as many classes as possible.”
Truancy was once regarded as a problem, given its links to drug use, other crime, and teenage pregnancy. Now, however, Newton South seeks to take advantage of the money-saving potential. The administration has conducted polls of the student body that indicate many students would be willing to miss more classes if the penalties weren’t so harsh. Even more would skip if given a small grade boost.
“It’s only fair to give skippers some points on tests since they won’t always be in class to receive the knowledge the teachers have to offer,” said Jon Lopatin, a senior at South. Not everyone is so enthusiastic about the changes. Miriam Looshin, another senior, believes that the new rules are unfair to those who diligently attend every class and complete every assignment.
Beginning Monday, there will be no penalties for unexcused absence from classes and no further grades of N will be given. The nearby Anna’s Taqueria is hiring additional staff to accomodate more customers.