School-move plan approved

June 1, 2012
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The City Council approved by a 12-1 vote on May 23 the Boston Public Schools’ (BPS) controversial school-move plan. Councilor Mike Ross, who lives in and represents Mission Hill, was the lone dissenting vote.

The plan calls for several schools to move, including the Mission Hill K-8 School going to the now-vacant Agassiz School in Jamaica Plain. New Mission High School, which currently shares the 67 Alleghany St. building with the K-8 school, is moving to the now-vacant Hyde Park High School building.

The state recently withheld reconstruction money to the City because the Hyde Park building is vacant and that violated funding rules.

Fenway High School will move into the 67 Allegheny St. building, which will undergo reconstruction. New Mission and K-8 will move in time for the next school year, while Fenway will be moved the following year.

The K-8 school leaving Mission Hill has angered many residents and they had an online petition trying to prevent the move.

Ross had added an amendment that would have excluded the K-8 school from the plan, but that was defeated by an 8-5 vote.

“It’s very disappointing,” Bob Goodman, a K-8 parent, said about the council’s vote. “It’s wrong of the City Council and BPS to uproot a school from its neighborhood. It’s harmful to children.”

He added, “The council has put politics ahead of children, neighborhoods and communities.”

Mayor Thomas Menino, who spoke during a sit-down lunch with reporters the day after the council vote, said the plan is about giving young people the opportunity to go to better schools.

“It’s about the common good,” said Menino.

He added later, “Some people wanted to play politics. I won’t play politics with kids.”

When asked by the Gazette about residents’ concern about the K-8 leaving their community, Menino said Mission Hill will still have an elementary school with the Tobin K-8 School and that the Mission K-8 School will be able to have better structure at the new location.

“We weren’t leaving Mission Hill without an elementary school,” said Menino.

Ross said in an interview with the Gazette before the vote that the BPS rushed the process and mistakes were made because of that.

“This is a bad plan because it injures a school community,” said Ross. “Superintendent [Carol] Johnson said as much [during a May 17 meeting.] She apologized for what it does to the Mission Hill community. But that falls on deaf ears if she’s not willing to change the plan.”