The Globe ran an interesting piece yesterday that hints at school closing proposals to come. BPS critic, charter school CEO, and current Boston School Committee member Meg Campbell is front and center again in the fight, this time seeking to close schools. See here. Stay tuned on this; this is an issue that is not going away.[NB. The article suggests that there are 3000 surplus high school seats in the BPS. Let’s explain in broad terms how the surplus is calculated. Here’s an example:
High School A has 30 classrooms, and each one can theoretically hold 31 students, which is the maximum class size, for a total of 930 students. 700 students are assigned, leaving a ‘surplus’ of 230 seats. But in the same school, 7 teachers share classrooms, the art and science teachers push their materials from room-to-room on a cart. Another class operates in a space near the boiler room. Teachers have no office space, and the music class uses the auditorium. The SLP, OT, and PT share a small area, insufficient for one person, let alone three. You get the picture. Does this school have a surplus of 230 seats? Or does it have a deficit of, perhaps, 10-12 classrooms, 5 conference areas, and so on?
(This year I visited a small elementary school in Dorchester. The ESL teacher I met with worked valiantly in a corridor, about 30 feet long and maybe 6 feet wide, however wide a corridor is. Her room was surrounded on one side by a classroom, on another by a classroom door. On the third side was a row of windows facing the parking lot. What’s more, filing cabinets lined one length, and chairs the other, leaving a walk-through space of perhaps two to four feet. There was student traffic, adult traffic, and general noise. After all it was a corridor. Despite the distractions, the teacher made the best, the class was orderly, and it looked like a real classroom, albeit a large coat closet. Want to bet that that school is listed as having surplus capacity? Frankly, the lack of adequate space does a disservice to our children and staff, and the phony inflation of surplus capacity adds insult to injury. A true calculation of surplus capacity needs to take into account any space(s) that are needed but lacking.)]