Growing education: $250,000 grant to be shared among Eastie schools adding a sixth grade next year

The Boston Public School’s plan to transition Eastie’s elementary schools from the K-5 model to a K-6 model next school year got a little help last week from the Boston Schools Fund.
The Boston Schools Fund, a nonprofit that provides grants and technical assistance to expand high quality schools of all types, and to ensure equitable access to schools, has awarded a $250,000 grant to be shared among the six Eastie elementary schools that are adding a sixth-grade in the Fall of 2020.
The grant will help these schools add the sixth grade classrooms and allow children in the fifth grade at the James Otis Elementary School, Patrick J Kennedy Elementary School, Hugh Roe O’Donnell Elementary School, Samuel Adams Elementary School, Manassah Bradley Elementary School and Curtis Guild Elementary School to remain at their schools next year.
In addition to furniture, textbooks, and supplies the grant will help hire new teachers and train staff as these Eastie schools begin engaging families and the broader community around opportunities and impacts of these new K-6 schools.
“Boston Schools Fund works every day to ensure equitable opportunity and access to schools with high-quality academics and high demand from families,” said Chief Executive Officer of Boston Schools Fund Will Austin. “Adding a new grade to a school is challenging. Additional resources for curriculum, professional development, and engagement will support principals, teachers, and families to make this transition successful.”
Boston Public Schools Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said BPS is proud to provide predictability to the families of Eastie by adding a sixth grade to all elementary schools.
“We are grateful to Boston Schools Fund for their support in this,” said Cassellius. “The additional funding will help ensure a smooth transition for our elementary school educators, students and their families. “
The leader of one of the six East Boston schools, James Otis Elementary School Principal Paula Cerqueira-Goncalves echoed the superintendent’s sentiments.
“I would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to the Boston Schools Fund for the sixth Grade Expansion Grant which will support our school community and all the new K-6 schools in Eastie,” said Cerqueira-Goncalves. “This grant will provide additional resources to thoughtfully plan for high-quality instruction and educational experiences for our students. We are eager to begin the 2020-2021 school year with new classes in place and hope to lay the foundation throughout the summer to grow a robust sixth grade in the East Boston community.”
The addition of sixth grade at these six Eastie schools brings the total of Boston Public School elementary schools adding sixth grade next year to 18. The move is part of a larger effort to reconfigure the 125 schools in the district, resulting in less transitions for children and families.
“I am very excited for the families of my district,” said Rep. Adrian Madaro. “Having clear pathways in our schools has been an important and challenging issue in the neighborhood for several years. I am happy to see City Hall, Boston Public Schools, and Boston Schools Fund take the first step to streamline the school experience for East Boston families.”
Across the six schools, 14 new classrooms will be opened. Principals, teachers, and students and families will be working this spring and summer to ensure these classrooms are ready.
“The expansion to 6th grade for many East Boston elementary schools is a welcome first step in ensuring adequate seats are available for our growing community,” said City Councilor Lydia Edwards. “Thank you to the Boston Schools Fund and CEO Will Austin for the supplemental programmatic, planning, and operational support to BPS. This investment will assist a successful transition to K-6 for our school staff and guarantee certainty, stability, and opportunity for both parents and children.”

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