BPS lays out 3 school-assignment plans

The Boston Public Schools (BPS) has unveiled three plans in its effort to improve the school-assignment system.

One plan would create a new zone system—similar to, but more varied than the one used today—while two other plans would create a list of schools based on quality and proximity to the student’s home.

For the three plans, the Hernández K-8 School in Jamaica Plain, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Charter School and UP Academy Charter School of Dorchester would be options available for all students.

Sibling preference and walk zone priority would remain in any new plan. The assignment changes would affect incoming students for the 2014-15 school year.

The zone-system plan would move from the current three zones to 10 zones. Families would pick from any of the schools inside the zone they live, as well as any school within their walk zone. The walk zone is a mile and may cross a zone boundary. They would rank the schools they preferred and are assigned based on seat availability.

Two zones would encompass Jamaica Plain.

Zone 5, which would capture the northern section of JP, includes the Tobin and Higginson/Lewis K-8 schools and the Trotter, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Hennigan, Ellis and Hale elementary schools.

Zone 8 would capture the southern section of JP. It would include the Curley, Greenwood and Mission Hill K-8 schools, the Mendell and Manning elementary schools and the Lee school and academy.

The other two “list” plans would use a formula to rank schools based on a family’s address. BPS would use MCAS data to chart two years of academic performance of students in math and English for each school and the rate of academic growth.

The ranked schools would be placed into a four-tier system and a list would be compiled picking schools closest to the family’s home from each of the top three tiers. The “Home-based A” plan would give families at least six choices, while the “Home-based B” plan would give families at least nine choices.

The two plans would also include three “closest capacity” schools, which is a school that can usually seat any student that requests it.

For the three plans, elementary schools would “feed” into middle schools nearby. High schools would remain open citywide, as they are now.

In all three plans, current and future Mission Hill students would have access to the Mission Hill K-8 School, which moved from Mission Hill to 20 Child St. last year. That is by request of local City Councilor Mike Ross.

The External Advisory Committee (EAC), a group put together to help form a new school-assignment system, will be holding a community meeting on the plans Feb. 4 at the Orchard Gardens K-8 School in Roxbury at 6 p.m.

BPS spokesperson Matt Wilder said that would probably be the only community meeting held by EAC before it makes its recommendation to Superintendent Carol Johnson. But, he said, once Johnson has submitted a plan to the City’s School Committee, there would likely be more community meetings.

For more information about each plan, visit bostonschoolchoice.org.

[Update: This story has been updated to reflect that the Boston Public Schools currently has three zones, not four.]

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