Boston City Councilor At-Large John Connolly answered questions from Boston Patch readers during an . The chat covered a wide range of hot-button topics. Here are some of the highlights from that discussion.
On the Casey Overpass project:
"I understand your frustration and I know that there were people advocating for both proposed solutions. My staff and I attended multiple meetings sponsored by MassDOT regarding this decision. I also received dozens of emails and letters on this important decision that will impact Jamaica Plain and the surrounding communities. I made sure to express to MassDOT the opinions I heard from the community. We will work to make sure the work proceeds in the best possible manner going forward and that community input will continue to inform the process."
On parental involvement in the changes to school districts:
"I've been hosting a series of parent sit downs over the course of the last three months and will continue to do so throughout the summer. If anyone is interested in hosting or participating in an upcoming meeting please find more info here:http://www.connollyforboston.com/events/upcoming-parent-meetings/
Similarly, BPS has a series of public meetings ongoing about changing the student assignment process. The schedule can be found at www.bostonpublicschools.org/choice."
On changing teacher seniority rules:
"The legislation will make sure that a teacher's performance is the primary factor in staffing decisions in our public schools. Additionally, it provides a strong framework for teacher evaluation and holds districts accountable for evaluating all their teachers in a timely manner. It also provides financial resources for evaluator training. Finally, it ensures that principals and school site leadership are able to make the best decisions for their individual school communities when it comes to putting a great teacher in every classroom."
On retaining recent college graduates as members of the Boston workforce:
"I think we are doing so with our growing innovation economy, life sciences industry, and high quality of life. When I walk around I see a bustling, energetic city full of people taking advantage of our parks, arts and culture, the new shared bike system and nightlife... As a parent of young kids I might not be taking advantage of the nightlife these days but I know that to have a thriving city we must provide all of this and more.
"What would you like to see to retain recent college grads?"
On creating more kindergarten seats in Charlestown and North End, and discussions on opening additional public schools in Back Bay or Beacon Hill:
"I've been supportive of creating a downtown elementary school option. As you know Mike Ross took the lead on this issue a few years back and he and I remain committed to making this a reality."
On the goal of neighborhood schools:
"There is a process happening right now, and the Mayor has said that the ultimate goal is to have more children going to quality schools closer to home.
I share this goal and am working hard to make sure that families' voices - and their priorities of quality and proximity - are included in the process."