Letter to the Editor: Schools and housing are woven together

Dear Newton Beacon,

As a Newton homeowner and resident, a parent of a public-school student, and a professional whose work interweaves urban planning and social issues, I was interested to see that many Newton residents are opposed to School Choice.

I wonder whether these are largely the same people who oppose broader zoning reform. If so, these double objectors create a bind for the city, in ways that are additionally self-defeating for them, and others. Declining enrollment in Newton schools is inseparable from the fact that empty-nesters and seniors want to remain in the community they love but are unable to find alternatives to their current homes.

The resulting lack of healthy market churn freezes people in place and fixes demographics. Broader zoning reform would give those wishing to trade down in size options within Newton, and would free up their houses for younger families. More housing of any type would enable families to choose these other housing types as well. School enrollment would increase, but in an organic, community-based way.

The only sustainable path to greater funding for Newton schools, without the mechanism of School Choice, is more housing, and more choice in housing types in Newton.

Paul Schlapobersky

Newton Centre

Principal, Director of Planning and Urban Design, SCB Architects