From The Clutter on My Desk

If I pass this information along, I can get rid of some of the piles and scraps of papers, reports and mail, rapidly accumulating on my desk. So, here goes.

School Aid--From 1993 to 1997, State funding for Westfield's schools increased from $11-million to $19.6-million. That's a 79 percent increase. Per pupil, this amounts to state aid increase of $l,272 . It's part of Education Reform, with more than %2-billion new state dollars being provided to our state's public schools by the end of the decade.

Tollhouse Cookies--The chocolate chip cookie is still the leading contender to be the official state cookie. Ruth Wakefield invented it at her Toll House Restaurant in Whitman, which she opened in 1930, when she tossed bits of chocolate into some cookie dough. The recipe called for nuts, but she didn't have any. The results were so good she asked Nestle to create chips, and the rest is history. But, bet you didn't know this: the Toll House mailed chocolate chip cookies to all military personnel from Whitman during World War II.

Broccoli--I still refuse to vote for broccoli as the state vegetable. I'm holding out for asparagus. I still think broccoli should have one c and two lls.

Brownfields-They're abandoned and contaminated industrial sites. Legislation that is pending would help clean up some 7,700 places in Massachusetts by providing money and loan guarantees to fund cleanups and lessening legal requirements. Hopefully, we can get some of the money for the H. B. Smith site in Westfield if the bill becomes reality.

More Moose-They're moving into the Bay State, so drivers beware. There were a dozen moose-vehicle accidents here last year. (In New Hampshire, there were 256!). June is a prime month to meet moose in Massachusetts. Chances are, they're young females looking for a place to set up housekeeping. It used to be that fall, September and October, were prime moose months, when the males, well, do what male moose do in the fall. Rut. That's moose-talk for breed. Seriously, collisions with moose are dangerous because the car strikes the moose in the legs and the body, which can weight a thousand pounds, falls onto windshield and roof. Mass Highway will be putting up moose crossing signs soon.

License Plates--Westfield's biggest river promoter has come up with a great slogan for our new environmental license plates. Dan Call suggests "Wild and Scenic." I hope the state goes along with it. The plates are in the design stage now.H

Roofless Women--Great name for homeless women, right? Right. They've done a survey at U Mass Boston that shows that, of the million-plus homeless in the country, women and children are the fastest growing segment. Today, 75 percent of the state's homeless are women and children (18,000), with single homeless women accounting for another 1,800.

Living Document--What is this? The protesters at U Mass have signed a "living document" with the administration. Who came up with that term? What would a dead document be?

Graduation--Three quarters of the students tested by the Massachusetts Educational Assessment Program last year failed to meet standards envisioned in the Education Reform Act. Educational officials have warned that those results could mean disaster in the year 2000, with 40 percent of students failing to graduate under new statewide tests.

Charter Schools--A U Mass/McCormack Poll released this week shows that two thirds of parents who have heard about charter schools would be likely to apply if given a chance. The poll also showed that traditionally Democratic constituencies are supportive of charter public schools: a margin of 3 to 1 said charter schools would make the other public schools better. Question. How about Republicans? More to come, I guess.

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