The superintendent last Wednesday released her plan to close six schools and merge others. Under her plan, the East Zone Early Learning Center, the Clap and Emerson elementary schools, and the Gavin Middle would be closed, as would the three high schools housed at the Hyde Park Education Complex (Social Justice Academy, the Engineering School, and the Community Academy of Science and Health). The Lee Pilot school would be closed and merged with the Lee Elementary. The Gavin would be re-opened as an in-district charter school called UP Academy. Read more. . .
UP Academy was given “ as far as we know “ a no-bid contract to run the Gavin Middle. Our attorneys are examining the bidding process. Why are the government watchdogs strangely silent on this issue?”¨”¨Public Hearings with School Department officials on the matter of the school closings/mergers will be held as follows:
- Saturday, October 16, Noon: Discussion of K-8 changes, at Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School
- Tuesday, October 19, 6pm: Discussion of high school changes, at Orchard Gardens K-8 School
- Tuesday, October 26, 6pm: School Committee Meeting at English High School 144 McBride St., Jamaica Plain
- Wednesday, November 3, 6pm: School Committee Meeting at BPS Headquarters: 26 Court St., Boston. A School Committee vote on the superintendent’s plan is expected at this meeting..
How and why were these particular schools chosen? The superintendent’s web announcement said that these schools “have not shown adequate progress…our plan will move students out of these schools and place them in much stronger programs.””¨”¨All of this remains to be seen, of course. For now, this much is known: Each of the schools identified has strengths and weaknesses. The Gavin, for example, while middling on the MCAS in ELA does very well on the math MCAS, surpassing a great many other middle schools. In fact, in math, the Gavin came in 3rd highest of 9 middle schools, only 1/10th of a point away from being tied for 2nd place.
The same sort of arguments were made in support of many of the other schools targeted for closing last Wednesday at the School Committee meeting where the school closing proposal was announced. Speaker after speaker gave testimony as to the strengths of their respective schools. The Lee Pilot sent dozens of representatives “ parents, students, and staff “ who were most eloquent in their support of the school. Recent graduates of the three schools at Hyde Park Education Complex, too, gave strong testimony of their school’s successful programs. After listening to student representatives any observer leaving the school committee meeting last Wednesday would honestly conclude that these schools are doing an excellent job, as the students who spoke were poised, confident, and articulate–and proud of their school.
Over the next month, the school department has an obligation to publicly defend its choices and provide a data-supported rationale for its decisions. It will be not be enough to say that the schools proposed for closing made insufficient progress while other schools with lower scores escaped the axe.
The school department is taking commentary at this email address: email@example.com. We look forward to an open process and discussion of the superintendent’s choices.
A little math quiz…With all of these proposed school changes next year, the school department will save ________ while losing ________ to charter schools for tuition reimbursements.
A) $7.6 Million, $45 Million”¨
B) $12.5 Million, $30 Million”¨
C) $14.8 Million, $30 Million
D) $7.6 Million, $60 Million
Correct answer: D. By the way, charter school expansion under the Ed Reform law will cost the city in $110 million per year beginning in 2013-2014 as the expansion of charters doubles. How many more of our schools will the school department propose closing to pay for new charters? Make no mistake: more closings are coming. Here’s the Globe’s take.