The Boston Public School Department has released several proposals for redistricting the city’s school choice zones in an effort to return to community schools in East Boston.
On Saturday at East Boston High School, BPS Superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson and other school officials went over the plan for Eastie and the city.
“The plan is to provide the best chance to get a great education for more of our students,” said Johnson. “We’ve talked to parents across the city and they told us most important thing to them was the was quality of education in every school. They want to see good principals, teachers that care and a sense of community through partnerships with other community groups. Parents also want to see improvements to facilities and the guarantee of safety in the schools. We are committed to making the kind of changes and focus on quality education in a very different way than we have in the past and we want to make sure we make those changes.”
Under the new school choice plan, BPS has come up with several scenarios to make the commute to school for Eastie students and parents easier.
Right now there are two options on the table.
The first is a ‘no zone’ model. In this model BPS would assign Eastie students directly to the school closest to them, with adjustments for capacity and programmatic options. In this model, families would not make school choices and students would receive their assignment based on their address and specific programmatic needs. If the capacity at the closest school is full, then the student would be assigned to the second closest school.
The second option would use a school choice model breaking up the city into 23, 11, 9 or 6 zones.
Under the 23 zone plan, Eastie would be split up into three different zones. Eastie students living in Orient Heights would be services by either the Bradley or Guild Schools. In Eagle hill parents would have the choice between the Umana/Alighieri, Kennedy, O’Donnell or Otis. In Jeffries Point parents could choose between the Adams, McKay or the Early Learning Center.
Under the 11 zone plan Eastie would be one zone and separated from the North End and Charlestown. Currently, parents can pick the Elliot in the North End or the Warren/Prescott and Harvard/Kent in Charlestown as options.
Under the 9 zone plan Eastie would be merged with the neighborhoods of Charlestown and the North End as it is today. This is the same for the 6 zone plan as well.
Under the zone plan students living in a zone would apply to any school in their Home Zone or within their walk zones, even if that school is across a boundary. Students could also apply to citywide options.
Inside every zone is a pathway. Elementary school students would feed into middle school and K-8 Schools. If a student moves into the district after 5 grade, they would be eligible to apply to any middle school or K-8 within their middle school zone boundary. All high schools would remain citywide just as today.
Sibling preference and walk-zone preference would still apply. If a school is across a boundary line from a students’ home but within the walk zone, that family could still apply to the school.
The proposals are based on feedback and input from the External Advisory Committee (EAC), BPS will be updating the proposals after a series of community meeting in this month across the city. Then, the EAC will make a recommendation to the Superintendent, who will bring a proposal to the Boston School Committee in December. The School Committee will then hold additional public hearings before voting on a new plan this winter.
“One thing we’ve learned is that a quality school means many things to many different people,” said EAC member, former School Committee President and Eastie resident John Nucci. “To some it’s high test scores and academic proficiency and to others, it might just mean that it’s close to home. The External Advisory Committee has worked for months to both define a quality school and equity of access to a quality school for everyone across the city. The challenge now is to balance all concerns and try to deliver parents a choice to attend a good school that is as close to home as possible.”