School Supplies: Lynn's gain is Boston's loss

October 4, 2011
Editorial/Boston Globe

The nonprofit group Extras for Creative Learning, which collects school and art supplies and provides them to teachers for nominal fees, was an underground version of Staples for Boston schools for the 30 years it operated in the bowels of Boston Latin Academy. But it was evicted last month because the basement did not meet fire codes for mass storage. Despite praising the program - which is also known as ExCL - the Boston Public Schools declared that there was nowhere else for it to go. Then the city of Lynn, with the help of major charities, stepped in to give the group space in a renovated factory building. The North Shore’s gain is Boston’s loss, and it’s a serious enough one that the Menino administration should try to find space for a Boston office.

Teachers can pay $40 a year for access to a trove of ExCL supplies ranging from three-ring binders for homework to rubber flooring and velvet-lined foam inserts for art projects. “You couldn’t buy 100 plastic lemons on the street. We have barrels of them,’’ said director Jodi Schmidt. “They become maracas, puppet heads, and bumblebees.’’

The Lynn Economic Development and Industrial Corporation, the nonprofit Serving People in Need, and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley all deserve credit for helping ExCL find its new home. To them, ExCL is no underground operation, but an arts education anchor for the nearly $1 million a year in items it distributes to resource-strapped teachers. Boston could use some of those supplies.



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