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Boston City Council Wants Superintendent to Rethink Loss of Neighborhood Schools

School plan would leave neighborhoods of West End, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway and Mission Hill with only one K-8 school.

Several Boston City Councilors including Mike Ross, John Connolly, Matt O'Malley, Tito Jackson, Ayanna Pressley, Felix Arroyo and Sal LaMattina, called for a hearing to further discuss the latest Boston Public School plan to move schools.

The latest plan includes two elementary schools in Mission Hill to be moved and replaced with high schools, resulting in the neighborhoods of West End, Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway and Mission Hill to contain a single K-8 school, said Ross, who called for the hearing.

The Committtee on Education will hold a hearing in the near future. The councilors spoke about the latest education plan during the weekly  meeting on Wednesday.

Superintendent Carol Johnson has said the plan will increase seats in desired schools.

For the entire Boston Public Schools plan to move schools including the Boston Latin Academy to the Hyde Park Education Complex click here. Another major move includes the reuse of the Agassiz School in Jamaica Plain, which would house the Mission Hill K-8 School.

Ross said the plan will "thus be fulfilling a prophecy that no families and no children will want to live there" after the neighborhoods he represents are reduced to one elementary school. "They are so desperate for a school so they go to surrounding neighborhoods to create waiting lists at other schools."

Ross noted it's easier to get your school choice within your neighborhood, stating that West Roxbury residents get their first school choice 63% of the time, 90+% in South Boston, but only 43 percent of residents get their first school choice in Back Bay and Beacon Hill.

Ross will take his message to the Boston School Committee tonight about how his district will be "unfairly targeted by the superintendent’s plan."

 and asked for more information from the School Committee on what they planned on doing with the schools. O'Malley said that kids from the Mission Hill school would be given a waiver to attend their school that would move into the West Zone. In turn, the families of the shuttered Agassiz School would have a smaller chance of getting into a school they wanted to remain open in their neighborhood because enrollment will be kept low.

O'Malley said he thinks Superintendent Johnson "is trying hard and has some successful models" but has possibly not thought out all of the ramifications of this latest plan.

Connolly said Ross had been fighting to bring a new school to the neighborhood and now has to fight to keep schools in District 8. Said Connolly, "We talked about keeping families in the city, but this plan sends a different message."

Also discussed at the Boston City Council meeting...

  • Councilors Ross, Pressley and Jackson asked for a hearing to recognize the Fenway Cultural District. "The purpose of the Cultural Districts program is to recognize, foster, and develop cultural districts which are geographical locations within a city or town of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets..." With many cultural destinations such as the MFA, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and more within the area, Ross would like it to be the first cultural district in Massachusetts. The designation would attract more tourists and generate more revenue.
  • The council also accepted a $400,000 Brownsfield Cleanup Grant Fund that will be used to clean up a parcel on Columbus Avenue in District 7 by Jackson Square that tested positive for arsenic and other toxins.

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