After an agonizing and devisive review of the Boston Public School's proposal to shuffle facilities in an effort to expand access to high performing schools, the Boston City Council approved the plan today - despite strong opposition from parents.
Moving the Mission Hill K-8 school out of the Mission Hill neighborhood and into Jamaica Plain's Agassiz building uproots students and will destroy the close-knit community, according to an online petition to stop the plan. The Fenway High School will move into the Mission Hill K-8 location.
While most agreed the overall proposal (see attached screenshot) makes sense for the other eight schools affected and is good for Boston in general, District 8 Councilor Mike Ross, whose district includes Mission Hill, called the move "reckless and irresponsible" and "the toxic element of this plan."
He called for an amendment to take it off the table, which did not pass in an 8-5 vote. The proposal that includes Mission Hill moving did pass in a 12-1 vote, with Ross the only councilor opposed.
District 9 Councilor Mark Ciommo said the proposal expands access for 1,400 students to high performing schools, serves kids more efficiently, and speaks to "the greater good" of the city.
"I'm not going to deny this is not without pain and sacrifice for people," said Ciommo.
Although councilors approved the plan based on its positive impact for the rest of the city, most did so grudgingly with respect to Mission Hill, and directed resentment toward the Boston School Committee for putting them in a difficult spot.
"We are here today because BPS did not do it's homework," said District 7 City Councilor Tito Jackson. "BPS closed 10 schools last year, and there hasn't been a thoughtful planning process throughout this whole thing."
Ross said the proposal was "cooked up behind closed doors and jammed through the School Committee in a matter of weeks" and At-Large City Councilor Ayanna Pressley gave her approval this time, but said she wouldn't vote for another BPS proposal without an established five-year master plan that addresses facilities and finances.
"Please, please BPS," Jackson said, "do not put us in this situation again."