School's Move to JP Approved
The shuttered Agassiz School will be home to Mission Hill K-8, a well-regarded pilot school.
It's unusual for Mayor Thomas Menino's hand-picked School Committee to vote any way other than unanimously.
But that's what happened Tuesday night as a divided board approved a major reshuffling of schools. The big news for JP is that Mission Hill K-8, one of the city's top-performing schools, will move to the former Agassiz building.
But passage of Superintendent Carol Johnson's plan came only after strenuous objections by City Councilor Mike Ross, who represents Mission Hill.
“Tonight’s plan destroys, destroys the future of a community and severely weakens one of your greatest schools," said Ross, according to the Boston Globe.
A motion to exclude Mission Hill K-8 from the plan (effectively scuttling several aspects of the plan) failed on a 3-3 vote, the Globe reported. The vote for the superintendent's plan then passed 5-1, with the lone "nay" cast by School Committee Member Mary Tamer, according to the Globe.
Joining Mission Hill K-8 in the old Agassiz building will be a new bilingual (Spanish/English) high school.
Speaking of the old Agassiz building, the principal of Mission Hill K-8 asked school administrators to greatly improve the grounds, interior and windows there, according to the Globe.
In a recent conference call with reporters, Johnson addressed concerns over the air quality and condition of the Agassiz:
"We made a number of investments over the last two years in the Agassiz complex," Johnson said. "We feel confident the changes that have been made respond to any concerns about the physical facility."
She said in that conference call that there will probably be additional renovations at all the schools involved in the reshuffling. For instance, the Agassiz space will need changes so it can accomodate high school students, said Matt Wilder of the schools' public relations department.
When it comes to JP, the Mission Hill K-8 will be in the West Zone for purposes of which families may attend. North Zone families who already send their children to Mission Hill K-8 may continue to do so.
"West Zone families, particularly in Jamaica Plain, should see this as a good option," Johnson said in the phone call.
Before Tuesday night's votes, educators at Mission Hill K-8 had said in the school newsletter that they did not want to move. However, they also said, "We believe that the philosophy, mission and spirit of our school can thrive in any location."
A copy of that newsletter is attached as a PDF.