Last week Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius announced that all of East Boston’s elementary schools will go from K-5 schools to K-6 schools beginning next school year.
The Samuel Adams Elementary, Manassah E. Bradley Elementary, Curtis Guild Elementary, Patrick J. Kennedy Elementary, Hugh R. O’Donnell Elementary and James Otis Elementary Schools will all be affected by the change. The Mario Umana Academy and Donald McKay will not be affected by the change and will remain k-8 schools.
Dr. Cassellius said the change will come one year earlier than previously scheduled as part of an update to the BuildBPS educational and facilities master plan for the district.
In a letter to school leaders in Eastie Dr. Cassellius said the decision came after months of community conversations with parents, teachers, community leaders and school staff.
“This will allow us to serve more students, create educational pathways and invest more equitably in our classrooms as we build high-quality schools in every neighborhood,” she said.
Dr. Cassellius said this grade expansion will help alleviate the number of middle school-age students who are currently attending school outside of Eastie due to a limited number of Grade 6 classroom seats in this area of the city. Twelve other BPS schools in various parts of the city are also scheduled to expand from K-5 to K-6 beginning in September 2020 as previously planned.
“Every decision we make must be rooted in community partnership and equity,” said Dr. Cassellius. “These decisions reflect the many conversations I’ve had over the last six months with families, school staff and community members. These changes will provide families with more predictability from Kindergarten to high school graduation and better position our schools to serve our students.”
One of the major goals of BuildBPS is to minimize the number of times students have to transition to different schools. BPS is adopting a preferred grade configuration model of K-6 and 7-12 in many district schools. The district previously announced it is phasing out the six remaining middle schools that serve only Grades 6-8 amid declining enrollment, academic performance, and program sustainability.
Dr. Cassellius will discuss the East Boston grade expansions with the Boston School Committee at an upcoming meeting.
“The Boston School Committee appreciates the continued efforts of BPS to solicit community feedback for the BuildBPS plan to ensure all voices have an opportunity to be heard,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “We all want to make decisions that are in the best long-term interests of our students and families. The Committee looks forward to reviewing these BuildBPS updates, and to engage in further public discussion on this important initiative.”
As part of the plan the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown will not enroll sixth-grade students next school year as the schools prepare for reconfigurations after the 2020-2021 school year. Because many students attending the Edwards Middle School reside in East Boston, the addition of sixth-grade classrooms in East Boston will allow for those students to stay in their current schools.