This is a hit that could reverberate beyond Saltonstall’s walls. The school is a major draw in this city, as the School Committee recognized some years back when they voted to extend it from a K-5 to a K-8 school — in part as a way to keep families (and state education dollars) in the school system and out of charter schools. Indeed, one of the real selling points of Salem’s elementary schools has been their diversity of offerings, including not only Saltonstall, but the Bowditch School’s two-way language program and Carlton’s small-school focus.
The two-way program has fallen by the wayside over the years, however, and several other schools are in trouble because of low MCAS scores. Dismantling a key — and popular — element of the Saltonstall vision will add a black mark to the Salem schools’ image, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see many families drift to the charter school or others outside the system.
We urge the School Committee to keep this program in place — and to keep working to extend time on learning at other schools, too.