Boston school board votes to close three schools

Some families affected by the closures expressed concern this fall about the district’s lack of effort to minimize disruption to their students. Administrators allayed some fears earlier this month by approving the addition of new sixth-grade cohorts at three elementary schools, Sumner, Blackstone and Mendell, where fifth-grade graduates have long had guaranteed places at schools whose the closure is now scheduled.

But the reversal — which came after the district initially said there was no room for sixth-grade classrooms in schools — damaged the district’s credibility with families, who questioned why the BPS response was reactive rather than proactive, said Vernée Wilkinson, Parent Director. advisory board for School Facts Boston, a group that provides support and information to families.

“Families need to be proactively involved in co-designing how things move forward,” Wilkinson said. “It’s a new era for the district and for the way we make changes.”

District leaders said students needing new school placements for next fall will re-enter the school selection process early next year and receive priority school assignments.

The district has hired school transition coordinators to support students and families during the closures, especially families who don’t speak English and students with individualized plans to accommodate and support their disabilities, administrators say. , who said the new staff members will provide one-on-one transition services and case management for affected students.

The superintendent said the district will work to find new jobs in other schools for all displaced employees, including cooks and caretakers.

The district plans to move other existing schools into vacant college buildings after they close in June. The Irving School building is set to be used as a K-6 school, while the Timilty building could be used as a K-6 or 7-12 school, or as “transitional space,” according to plans submitted by district officials. , who said they intended to involve the community in their planning process.

“Families want to be part of our solution,” said Jeri Robinson, school committee chair. “They care deeply about what is happening in their neighborhoods and their communities.”

Elementary schools that feed Timilty and Irving colleges include Blackstone and Mendell schools, which have traditionally sent students to the Timilty, and Bates, Mozart, Philbrick, Sumner, Chittick, and Grew schools, which have sent students to the Irving. .

“Too many transitions, too many uncertainties for parents. We constantly heard that they wanted fewer transitions,” said Michael O’Neill, vice-chairman of the school committee, during the meeting.

Five committee members voted for the measure while members Lorena Lopera and Rafaela Polanco Garcia abstained from voting.

Colleen Cronin can be reached at Jenna Russell can be contacted at Follow her on Twitter @jrussglobe.