BuildBPS May 2019 Memo
On Tuesday, May 21, 2019, Boston Public Schools (BPS) Interim Superintendent Laura Perille communicated with numerous school communities to announce the beginning of a community planning and engagement process for several school expansions and reconfigurations as part of the BuildBPS education and facilities master plan. The changes are aimed at better aligning grade configurations district-wide in order to minimize school transitions for students, expanding classroom seats in areas where they’re needed most, and modernizing school facilities, among other goals.
The updates, outlined in this memo, call for expanding 18 elementary schools from serving grades K-5 to K-6 over the next three years; adding middle-grade classroom seats in East Boston; reconfiguring the McCormack Middle School in Dorchester into a grade 7-12 school with Boston Community Leadership Academy in 2022; and construction of new school buildings in East Boston and Chinatown; among several other updates.
These updates would meet the primary goals of BuildBPS, which are mentioned below.
Goals of BuildBPS
- Minimizing school transitions for students by adopting two preferred school grade configuration models of K-6/7-12 or K-8/9-12;
- Increasing access to pre-K, elementary- and middle-grade seats in areas of the city with the most need;
- Addressing declining middle school enrollment, sustainability and performance by phasing out the few remaining middle schools serving grades 6-8;
- Facilitating greater equity of program placement to meet the needs of English learners, students with disabilities and other populations;
- Modernizing BPS schools to provide facilities more conducive to 21st-century learning.
Through our analysis as part of the BuildBPS process over the past three years, BPS and the City of Boston have thoroughly examined the factors mentioned below.
BuildBPS Analyses Examined
- School enrollment patterns;
- School facility layouts and capacity;
- How to provide the most equitable access to quality programming for students of all backgrounds and needs;
- And, feedback from members of the community, among many other factors.
In order to make sure we are meeting the important needs of students and families, we encourage you to share your thoughts and feedback during the ongoing community planning and engagement process. In the coming days, weeks, and months, BPS will publicize school and community meetings and other opportunities to provide input into these recommendations. For updates, visit bostonpublicschools.org/buildbps.
Schools Expanding from K-5 to K-6
Over the next two years, 18 elementary schools will expand from grades K-5 to K-6, both to support the reconfiguration of existing middle schools and in response to interest from many school communities.
- South Boston and Dorchester: For September 2020, BPS will expand the following schools from K-5 to K-6: Clap, Dever, Everett, Perkins, and Tynan. These schools have historically fed students to the McCormack Middle School, which will transition into a grade 7-12 school in the fall of 2022. The expansion of the mentioned schools to K-6 would support the successful transformation of the McCormack.
- Citywide: For September 2020, BPS will expand the following schools, located in various parts of the city, from K-5 to K-6: Channing (Hyde Park), Conley (Roslindale), Hale (Roxbury), Manning (Jamaica Plain), Harvard-Kent (Charlestown), and the Mattahunt (Mattapan).* UPDATE: In June, BPS added the Kenny (Dorchester) to this list for expansion to K-6 in September 2020.
- *The Mattahunt, which reopened in 2017 and currently serves grades K0-2, will increase one grade level per year until it has a sixth grade in September 2022.
- East Boston: For September 2021, BPS will expand the following East Boston schools from K-5 to K-6: Adams, Bradley, Guild, Otis, O’Donnell, and Patrick J. Kennedy.
Several elementary schools approached BPS in the past year requesting to expand from K-5 to K-6. In response, BPS provided specific criteria to School Site Councils in order to expand to K-6 in either the 2020-21 or 2021-22 school years.
The criteria for schools seeking to expand to K-6 included: that schools remain in their existing buildings without substantial new construction; preserve some 21st century learning spaces, such as science, arts, and small-group learning rooms; and accommodate all general education and specialized populations, among other factors.
Transformation of the McCormack Middle School and BCLA
As one of the first middle schools to reconfigure under BuildBPS, the McCormack Middle School in Dorchester has worked collaboratively with BPS to select an existing district high school to combine programming into a fully-renovated, new school serving grades 7-12 at the current McCormack location on Columbia Point.
After a thorough and collaborative engagement process and equity analysis that examined several options, Boston Community Leadership Academy (BCLA) has been selected to combine with the McCormack in the fall of 2022. BCLA is currently located in Hyde Park in a shared space with New Mission High School.
BCLA was selected through an open-application process designed collaboratively by educators from the McCormack and BPS Central Office staff. Teachers and staff from McCormack and BCLA will participate in school design planning over the next two years with facilitation and support from Central Office.
The partnership between McCormack and BCLA provides the most equitable opportunities for students, allowing the district to expand a highly selected high school and align the specialized programs serving English learners and students with disabilities at both schools.
During the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years, seventh- and eighth-grade McCormack students will temporarily relocate to the Irving Middle School in Roslindale during building renovations. The year prior, 2019-20, seniors from the soon-closing Urban Science Academy and West Roxbury Academy will be located in the same space at the Irving.
BPS is proactively communicating with the McCormack, BCLA, and Irving school communities about these changes; and encourages school community members to participate in the community planning and engagement process.
Planning for Charlestown and East Boston
BPS and many community members agree there are not enough pre-K and elementary seats in Charlestown; and not enough middle-grade seats in East Boston, with a significant number of East Boston students in grades 6-8 attending the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown or opting to attend schools outside of the district. In addition to expanding grade configurations in several East Boston schools from K-5 to K-6 to address this issue (as mentioned earlier in this letter), BPS is launching a community planning and engagement process on the following:
- Beginning a two-year planning and engagement process leading to the reconfiguration of the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown, phasing out the grade 6-8 middle school in June 2021, and reconfiguring the school to expand pre-K and elementary grade capacity, working with all school communities in the area.
- Expanding middle-grade seat capacity in East Boston through the expansions mentioned above, along with exploring expansions of middle-grade seats at East Boston High School while maintaining options at the Umana and McKay K-8 schools.
- Purchase of property at 189 Paris Street in East Boston to construct a new school building to serve elementary grades.
BPS is instituting the grade configuration changes in East Boston and at the Edwards two years from now, beginning in September 2021, to provide ample time to engage in thoughtful public dialogue, transition schools as a group to minimize sudden swings in schools’ enrollment and budget figures, and to maintain sustainable and fulfilling experiences for students. The proposed conversion of the Edwards will require special and intentional care and outreach to families and students, particularly those served in specialized programs, as well as faculty and staff.
Additional Initiatives Across Boston
BuildBPS touches schools across the district through facilities improvements and upgrades, which include new windows, roofs, boilers, furniture, kitchens, and other projects that have occurred over the past three years, and BPS is planning even further improvements in many other areas of the city in the short-term and long-term.
- Construction of Josiah Quincy Upper School in Chinatown: This month, the City of Boston came to an agreement to purchase property at 249 Harrison Avenue in Chinatown to be used for planning and construction of a new building for the Josiah Quincy Upper School, which houses grades 6-12.
- Construction of Boston Arts Academy in Fenway: Construction has begun for a new home of the city’s only public high school for the arts, Boston Arts Academy, across the street from Fenway Park. The 153,000 square-foot building is expected to be completed in 2021.
- Working with Grove Hall Alliance school communities: BPS is working with a network of five schools in the Grove Hall neighborhood (Burke High, Frederick Middle, Trotter K-8, King K-8, and Haynes Early Education Center) to review feeder patterns for the potential creation of a pathway for students.
- Planning Process for Allston-Brighton Schools: Continue an active two-year planning process for schools in Allston-Brighton to address facilities challenges at the Jackson-Mann and Horace-Mann schools.
- Seek Property near the Dorchester-Mattapan Line: BPS is seeking property near the Dorchester-Mattapan line to construct a new school building to address the need for elementary seats in the area.
- Continue Longer-Term Planning for Remaining Middle Schools: BPS will continue collaborative long-term planning with the remaining middle schools that BPS recommends reconfiguring in the coming years: the Frederick in Dorchester, the Timilty in Roxbury, and the Irving in Roslindale.
These announcements reflect the outcome of dialogue with school communities and stakeholders, and marks the continuation of our collective conversation. It’s important to note the district will make additional recommendations for school upgrades throughout the city during the course of BuildBPS, which is designed to last about 10 years.
We encourage you to share your thoughts and feedback during the ongoing community planning and engagement process. In the coming days, weeks, and months, BPS will publicize school and community meetings and other opportunities to provide input into these recommendations. For updates, visit bostonpublicschools.org/buildbps.
Through BuildBPS, the district aims to remove long standing systemic barriers that have created inequities across the district. Thanks to your continued engagement and input, we are making considerable progress in improving school environments for all students in BPS.