Budget news dominated last week as the Superintendent warned the Boston School Committee that the School Department is facing a huge budget deficit. Translated, this means that the Superintendent will be proposing a long list of school closings either on December 2 or December 8, dates for the next two upcoming School Committee meetings. Both meetings will be held at English High School, as will the meeting on School Committee’s vote on the Superintendent’s plan, on December 15. The December 2 meeting is a last minute addition.
It is unknown how many or which schools the Superintendent may choose to close or merge. An earlier plan to close or merge 7 schools was announced last month. It was then amended and finally withdrawn subsequently, as students, staff, and parents from each of the schools packed a School Committee meeting at English High School to protest. Schools originally on the chopping block were the Emerson, Clap, ELC-East, Lee Pilot, and the three small high schools at the Hyde Park Education Complex. In addition, the Gavin Middle school was slated to be closed and a charter operator, UP Academy, was given a no-bid contract by the School Committee to manage the Gavin beginning in September 2011.
The Superintendent’s plan was originally touted as an academic improvement model. But one by one each school community pointed out that closing their respective school would exacerbate – not close – the achievement gap. For example, school communities at the Clap and Emerson pointed out how the schools slated to receive their students were no better academically than their own schools. The ELC, Lee Pilot, and the three Hyde Park Schools did the same. Above, Clap students rally at school (Kenny Jarvis, Universalhub.com)
As the Superintendent backtracked from her plan, which was full of inconsistencies, the business community sent strong signals that more closings – not fewer – were required. The Superintendent acknowledged the same at the committee meeting last Wednesday, though she offered no details. Stay tuned…