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 around and open new ones.
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.
JP Center would gain back two schools after this summer's shuttering of the Agassiz Elementary: Mission Hill K-8 and a new high school, the bilingual Margarita Muñiz Academy.
The Committtee on Education will hold a hearing in the near future. The councilors spoke about the latest education plan during the weekly Boston City Council meeting on Wednesday.
Superintendent Carol Johnson has said the plan will increase seats in desired schools.
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 percent of the time, 90-plus percent 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."
O’Malley held a hearing about the last wave of school closings 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, which would move into the West Zone from its present North 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 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."
Other items discussed at Wednesday's City Council meeting include:
- 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 Museum of Fine Arts, 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.
[Editor's note: The original post was corrected. The proposal is for moving schools and opening new ones.]