Monthly Archive for March, 2006

Is Kindergarten the new First Grade?

Yes, thanks to No Child Left Behind.

Jana Silbeck Francis writes

The language arts curriculum focuses on getting all students to read and write.  The math curriculum deals with simple addition and subtraction of numbers as well as basic time telling and coin recognition.  Walking into a kindergarten classroom, the observer notes the amount of time students spend writing and working at their desk.  Play is only present for a short time of the day and usually only outside.  In whole, the kindergarten classroom of today mirrors the first grade classroom of 10 years ago. 

Tutoring starts young, making kindergarten 'the new first grade' by Kathleen Lucadamo, New York Daily News, Mar. 1, 2006

“Kindergarten is the new first grade,” declared Andrea Pastorok, an
educational psychologist at Kumon Learning Center, one of several
tutoring companies that recently launched preschool programs to meet
the demands of concerned parents. “The preschool market is our
fastest-growing population.”

Watertown Water Bill

I just read in the Globe that the Watertown Town Council will be reviewing the town's water billing schedule at Tuesday's council meeting. It seems the latest billing cycle included a much longer period than previous bills and this meant that people's total consumption for the period was over 7500 and they paid the higher billing tier for the amount over 7500. I'm one of those people and here's why I was so surprised:

Date Reading Days Usage  Use/Day Meter Water Sewer
6/1/99 162796
12/1/99 0 183 $20.00 $119.98 $290.67
6/1/00 610 183 610 3.33 $20.00 $20.00 $73.37
12/8/00 4846 190 4236 22.29 $20.00 $58.53 $163.51
5/11/01 8228 154 3382 21.96
11/30/01 12941 203 4713 23.22 $75.97 $188.99
5/22/02 16171 173 3230 18.67 $38.45 $129.52
12/12/02 20804 204 4633 22.71 $6.38 $119.89 $227.94
5/6/03 24425 145 3621 24.97 $6.38 $95.09 $178.15
12/1/03 29871 209 5446 26.06 $6.38 $139.81 $263.59
4/30/04 33316 151 3445 22.81 $6.38 $90.78 $166.74
11/15/04 38957 199 5641 28.35 $7.66 $173.51 $310.82
4/22/05 43165 158 4208 26.63 $7.66 $131.38 $231.86
12/2/05 51929 224 8764 39.13 $7.66 $282.50 $495.53

So this latest bill was the first time we've ever broken the 7500 cubic foot cutoff and by a lot at that! This gave us a bill that was 55% higher than last year's bill.

Watertown's erratic billing cycle results in billing periods that range from 145 days to the latest 224 days, which is a full half a month longer than the longest it's ever been before. Why can't Watertown just bill on regular cycles like credit card companies, insurance companies and just about everyone else?

Now the rest of the story on our huge bill is that, in addition to the long billing cycle, our average daily usage for the latest period jumped 38% from the same period in the previous year! That's a mystery to me since our usage patterns have remained constant and, in fact, we watered the garden less last summer than in past years.

UPDATE: Mystery solved. Our usage patterns had changed during
that last period. Well, not our usage, but our tenants at the time. I
forgot that we allowed them to have their younger sister live with them
from April to September. Actually they just assumed it would be okay.
Lesson learned – next time say no or increase the rent.

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