BPS is presenting an update to our long-term Capital and Facilities Plan to the Boston School Committee. This update is the result of many months of effort by our Capital and Facilities Management team, which has coordinated closely with our academic leadership to develop the outline of a plan that will allow us to Grow with Boston as our overall enrollment increases over the next few years, especially in our early grades.
Grow with Boston (download here
) allows us to welcome more early-education and elementary-grade students while protecting the arts, science and specialty classroom spaces that are core elements of our students' academic and enrichment experiences. The proposal will also allow us to increase the number of inclusive settings we provide, continue our expansion of early education seats and add dual-language capacity throughout the city.
This proposal expands early-grade capacity by increasing the number of K-8 and K-8 pathway schools we offer. Not only are these programs popular with families, but research shows they can be academically beneficial as well. These programs allow teams of teachers to work together over time to focus strategically on the needs of individual students. Families have also let us know they value school experiences that minimize transitions and maximize academic quality and predictability. Indeed, about 70 percent of the BPS students who shift to charter schools do so as they face the transitions that approach just after 4th or 5th grade. By building on our successful K-8 model, we believe we will become more competitive by promoting high-quality, predictable academic experiences.
The Grow with Boston proposal offers a broad vision for meeting this challenge. Under our proposal, over the next five years most elementary and middle schools would develop into K-8 schools or link into K-8 pathways by adjusting grade spans to become K-3 and 4-8 schools.Not only would this increase the number of close-to-home choices for most families, but it would also support school quality improvements by allowing teacher teams to work closely with parents, school leaders and the District to develop high-quality grade spans that meet the needs of diverse learners.
Indeed, this proposal is one we expect will be co-constructed with our school communities themselves. Our Grow with Boston proposal outlines the framework for a powerful transformation - and then school leaders and the District will turn to our parents, teachers, students and partners to help develop the specific academic programs that, together, we can make a reality. Indeed, these are the people who know the potential of our schools the very best and we look forward to listening to their expertise.
This strategy will also allow us to expand our pre-kindergarten programs, which have recently been recognized as among the most effective in the nation at eliminating achievement gaps.
Even more important, these expansions would create the classroom space we need to serve our growing population while protecting arts, science and specialty spaces - all while allowing BPS to move ahead with our promises to create more inclusive opportunities and expand our dual-language programs.
Ultimately, our Grow with Boston proposal would mean transformations for many schools as we welcome an expanding population. This is where we hope you will play a key role as we all take advantage of this opportunity. Over the next several months we will engage a community conversation about the best way to meet our K-8 and K-8 pathway goals. Pilot School boards, School Site Councils, School Parent Councils, school leaders and our teachers will be critical to this process. Together, we can meet the challenge of welcoming many more students while simultaneously improving the quality of every classroom experience for every child.
We anticipate presenting final recommendations to the School Committee in the springtime, and these changes would be scheduled for implementation during the 2015-2016 school year and beyond. At the same time, there are some decisions that must be made in the short term in order to prepare for increased enrollment growth next year and to follow through with commitments already made. We regret that, in some instances, the same deep level of discussion has not been able to occur. Our commitment is to work with school leaders to finalize plans in a way that minimizes disruption and provides a platform for future success for all students and schools. We look forward to engaging with you much more in the weeks and months ahead.
Capital Facilities Master Plan
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