School move fight continues

December 16, 2011
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Boston Public Schools’ (BPS) plan to move the Mission Hill K-8 School to the former Agassiz School building at 20 Child St. was approved by the school committee Nov. 15. But opposition remains strong among parents, advocates and Mission Hill residents.

Some advocates say that the K-8 move would mean further limiting access to elementary school seats for students from four major housing developments in the area—Jamaica Plain’s Bromley Heath and the Alice Taylor, Mission Main and Mission Park housing developments.

Losing a local elementary school means fewer options for local families, particularly low-income families, said Sara Montoya, head of the Parker Hill/Fenway branch of Action for Boston Community Development, which runs a Head Start pre-kindergarten program.

“I think it is definitely going to affect our families. The area’s kindergarten classes are completely full,” she said.

“A lot of our families don’t drive, so you are looking at less parent engagement with the schools” if the schools their children are attending are further away, she said.

“I tried to get my daughter into the Mission Hill School or the Tobin,” Mission Hill’s other K-8 school, Mirna Mejia, a Parker Hill/Fenway ABCD staffer and Hill resident, told the Gazette, “But she is attending kindergarten in Hyde Park.”

“There are not enough options around here to begin with, and we are losing more options,” she said.

In an email, Wilder told the Gazette, “There are many options within the [Mission Hill] walk-zone, beyond the Mission Hill K-8 and the Tobin. Their options far outnumber those of a student living near the Agassiz building”—the former home of the Agassiz school at 20 Child St in JP, where Mission Hill K-8 is slated to move.

But City Councilor Matt O’Malley told the Gazette he is skeptical that the Mission Hill school’s move to JP will mean more seats for current JP students. The only seats that are being added to the school are pre-kindergarten seats, so for local students who left the Agassiz when it closed last year, “there is not opportunity to go back to the building,” he said.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=555490511 Jon Shore

    Good critical thinking City Councilor Matt O’Malley, I’m
    glad to hear you are skeptical…me too!   Now tell us what YOU are going to do about it!

    This article didn’t mention that BPS is going to add the NEW
    Margarita Muñiz Academy High School to the mix at the Agassiz School building.  As the nightmare continues, I am
    concerned about the safety issue that will be created by opening a new high
    school in such close proximity to English High.  I can just see the fights
    between the two high schools when the Muñiz Academy “partners” with English to
    share their sports fields or when students “talk trash” about each others
    schools!  We can only hope that any
    brawls happened away from elementary student bystanders who may get hurt.            

    Given that Burke and English High School’s are under
    populated, do we really need another high school anyway?  Wouldn’t the
    money be better spent creating a two-way bilingual program at the Burke or English
    High?  Both schools have large bilingual populations that would
    benefit. 

    One of the reasons cited by the superintendent when she closed
    and consolidated the small high schools last year was the cost of the “administrative
    positions.” These small schools, serving fewer than 400 students, still require
    a headmaster, assistant headmaster, SPED director, department directors, nurse,
    guidance, social workers, discipline directors, and their respective support
    staff.  It seems to me that this program can be absorbed into the under
    populated high schools, using the administrative staff already in place, then
    use the money saved to hire additional teachers and staff who are in direct service to
    all students in the building.  
    Or the new Margarita Muñiz Academy could open in a Boston community, like Mattapan or Roslindale, without a
    high school. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/SaveMHS SaveMission HillSchool

    Thank you for continuing to focus on this issue, which we consider pressingly relevant to the stability of all BPS school communities and neighborhoods anchored by them. As BPS considers returning to the neighborhood-school model–which not only will cut back on busing costs, currently enormous, but also facilitates local social ties for children, promotes parent engagement, and sustains neighborhood health–it makes no sense to us that they plan to uproot a thriving school with 60% walk-zone enrollment and a longtime anchor for families and homeowners in Mission Hill and Roxbury.