Superintendent’s draft plan prioritizes students, schools most in need
Last Wednesday, Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Brenda Cassellius presented a draft five-year strategic plan to the Boston School Committee aimed at improving student experiences and outcomes; close opportunity gaps and increases instructional quality and rigor.
The plan includes making all East Boston elementary schools K-6 schools by next year
Cassellius said the draft strategic plan was developed and informed by the Superintendent’s community engagement tour that included stops in East Boston. Over the last several months the Superintendent visited every school and met with more than 2,000 parents, students, educators, community members and organizations to understand their expectations for high-quality schools in every neighborhood.
“All of our students deserve the opportunity to have an excellent, equitable education, but unfortunately this hasn’t been the reality for all of our students. Our good intentions need to be bolstered with a bold, cohesive plan of action,” said Superintendent Cassellius. “This plan provides the roadmap for a dramatic shift in the way we serve students and schools, and the budget we’ll present in February will show our commitment to fund and operationalize the plan.”
Cassellius recently announced that all of Eastie 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.
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. 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.
“We believe in a Boston where every single student has access to high-quality schools to reach their full potential,” said Mayor Martin Walsh. “I am confident that Superintendent Cassellius’s draft strategic plan, which is supported by our recent $100 million commitment to students, will create more opportunity, remove inequities, and create a stronger foundation for our students to succeed.”
Cassellius will present the district’s proposed budget to the School Committee on February 5. The next phase of this process includes continued community engagement through a 30-day public comment period that began on Thursday, January 16 and will last until February 14. Community members can review and comment on the strategic plan at bostonpublicschools.org/strategic plan or attend an in-person review of the plan during a public meeting in Eastie scheduled for Thursday, January 30 at East Boston Library, 365 Bremen St.
“The Boston School Committee is committed to creating opportunity and access to a high-quality education for every child across Boston,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “With the Mayor’s unprecedented commitment to provide an additional $100 million in funding over costs in the next three years, this strategic plan will shape how BPS will support our students, close opportunity gaps, and improve student achievement. The Committee looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the community to move this critical work forward.”
Other highlights of the plan are five commitments that include (1) Eliminate Opportunity and Achievement Gaps, (2) Accelerate Learning, (3) Amplify All Voices, (4) Expand Opportunity, and (5) Cultivate Trust. Each commitment is tied to a set of priorities and progress will be measured by clear and measurable goals. The plan aspires to lift up and support schools, starting with those most in need, increase academic rigor in all grades across all schools, improve funding equity in the way resources are distributed, and provide deeper engagement with students and families.