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Officials Preview Changes, New Programs for City Schools

At a public meeting last week, Superintendent Carol Johnson highlighted new initiatives for Boston Public Schools.

On the cusp of the first day of school, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools, held a press conference Friday to tout some highlights her office is looking forward to for the 2011-12 school year. 

At the top of the list were increased physical education and arts opportunities for students, the introduction of two new industry charter schools and an innovation school at the Clap School in Dorchester. And one more point of special note: almost every school in the city now has an after-school program.

The Boston scholar athletes program 

This year, administrators are trying to strengthen athletics and academics – at the same time. There are zones in every high school equipped with computers and facilitators for the Boston scholar athletes program.  Student athletes can get homework help in these centers. The Princeton Review has agreed to provide training and support for those students for SAT prep, Dr. Johnson said. The goal is to ensure that kids who participate in sports are also preparing for college readiness.

More healthy food

The 80 or so city schools that don’t have staff cooking meals onsite will be working with a new food vendor this year. This vendor has an emphasis on more local and healthy choices, like fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, the mayor’s new chef’s program produced suggestions on how to prepare food more healthfully.  “We believe that academic success is tied to healthy development,” the superintendent said.

Also of note:

  • Target announced is going to makeover the Library at the Hennigan School in Jamaica Plain this year.
  • There will be a renewed focus on collaborating with charter schools to create a compact regarding how they will work together and share ideas/resources.
  • The city is in the midst of contract negotiations with First Student (which represents bus drivers) and the teacher’s union.
  • The city is trying to focus on a new teacher evaluation system to reward good teachers, assist struggling teachers, and identify those teachers who simply don’t belong in the profession.
  • There is renewed focus on ensuring that non-residents of the city do not enroll in Boston Public Schools, while being sensitive to the plights of recently arrived immigrants and the homeless. At the same time, officials are trying to make it easier for residents to enroll. They are also trying to collect back tuition from non-residents who have illegally attended Boston Public Schools.

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