New Mission Hill K-8 school nixed

December 13, 2013
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City Councilor Mike Ross’s effort to bring a new K-8 school to Mission Hill has been thwarted by the City. But the Boston Public Schools (BPS) has agreed to reopen a family center at the Tobin K-8 School and to review expanding elementary education opportunities for the neighborhood.

Ross, who represents and lives on Mission Hill, had introduced an amendment to a loan order that would have brought a new K-8 school to the neighborhood instead of Fenway High School. The amendment and loan order was approved by the City Council on Nov. 6. The loan order is for a $4 million study about a new building in Chinatown for the Boston Arts Academy (BAA) and the Quincy Upper School.

But City attorney William Sinnott said in a letter to the Council that the vote was “null and void.” He stated in the letter that the Council can only “approve, reject or reduce” a loan order and does not have the authorization to amend it.

Ross attempted to amend the loan order because Mission Hill lost two schools during last year’s school-move plan, which the councilor opposed. The Mission Hill K-8 School and New Mission High School, which were both housed at 67 Alleghany St., moved to Jamaica Plain and Hyde Park, respectively.

Fenway High School, which currently shares space with Boston Arts Academy (BAA) at 174 Ipswich St., is slated to move to 67 Alleghany St. Under the voided amendment by Ross, Fenway would have stayed at its original location and a K-8 school would have been installed at the 67 Alleghany St. building.

Ross said in an email to his supporters that he engaged in talks BPS, which led to the aforementioned commitments of reopening the family center at the Tobin at 40 Smith St. and reviewing elementary education needs on Mission Hill.

“I believe that good public policy is when we can all win,” Ross said in the email. “I have always supported BAA in their search for a facility that would adequately meet the needs of their students; however, I could not allow for that to happen at the expense of another school community. I am pleased to be able to vote for the loan order today given the administration’s recent commitments.”

The family center, which stopped services at the beginning of this school year, provides services such as workshops and adult English as a Second Language classes. It was cut due to budget contraints. Interim Superintendent John McDonough said in a Dec. 3 letter to Ross that the family center will immediately reopen and that BPS will work with the Tobin to make sure that the center remains open.

McDonough’s letter also states that as part of a long-term facility planning effort, BPS is committed to a “specific review of how the Mission Hill neighborhood and health of that community is impacted. This review will examine issues related to the identification of expanded opportunities for elementary education for families of Mission Hill.”

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