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Proposals will increase the number of high-quality seats for students across BPS schools

BOSTON -- Thursday, May 23, 2024 -- Superintendent Mary Skipper shared a series of new proposals to increase access to high-quality education across the Boston Public Schools over the course of School Year 2024-25. Over the course of the last two years, students, families, educators and community members developed a shared vision for the High Quality Student Experience (HQSE), where every student in Boston has rigorous academic instruction, access to extracurriculars and support services they need in facilities that support their learning.

New and expanded initiatives to achieve the HQSE, shared by Superintendent Skipper, include investments in equitable literacy, an approach rooted in the science of reading; continued implementation of inclusive education to better serve students with disabilities and multilingual students; expansion of bilingual programs; expansion of community hub schools; and early college and career pathways in high schools; as well as a number of closures, consolidations, and reconfigurations -- the result of Year 1 of implementation of the Long-Term Facilities Plan (LTFP).

The LTFP committed to an annual cycle of proposals to allow time for meaningful community participation in developing transition plans over the course of a full school year, before closures or reconfigurations go into effect. The new proposals were shared in a meeting of the Boston School Committee, which will be asked to vote on two closure proposals at its June 17, 2024 meeting. If approved, the closures -- as well as grade reconfigurations -- would go into effect for School Year 2025-26. 

"The long-term work to shift the physical footprint of the District is deeply intertwined with our core academic strategies and the structural changes we are making to ensure a student-first approach in support of the High-Quality Student Experience," said Superintendent Mary Skipper. "The set of academic and structural proposals we are offering today will deliver high-quality seats across BPS by partnering commitments to facilities with academic and programmatic investments."

"Superintendent Skipper has laid out an ambitious agenda to deliver high-quality seats for students and families in every school and every neighborhood," said Mayor Michelle Wu. "This generational work will create the breadth and depth of opportunities that our students deserve and position BPS to be sustainable, growing, and the first choice for families."

In its presentation to the Boston School Committee, BPS outlined its new initiatives to increase access to high-quality education at the elementary and secondary levels. The presentation includes the specific milestones BPS expects to reach over the next 12-18 months to increase the number of high-quality seats. These steps lay the foundation for BPS’ next set of facilities proposals so that as additional reconfigurations, mergers, and closures are proposed, BPS families can have confidence that any impacted students will be transitioned to seats that provide a rigorous and fulfilling educational experience.

Milestones include:

  • Expansion of Newcomer programs at three secondary schools in SY24-25 and two additional programs in SY25-26
  • Planning for the implementation of nine new bilingual education programs in both elementary and secondary schools in SY25-26
  • Expansion of early college programs, AP course offerings, and Career and Technical Education programming across every high school, including alternative education sites
  • Expansion of Community Hub School program to include six additional schools, for a total of 20
  • New Post-Secondary Transitions Program for students with disabilities aged 19-22, launching in SY25-26
  • New satellite campus for Boston Adult Technical Academy in East Boston to serve newcomer students and multilingual learners aged 19-22, launching in SY24-25
  • Grade reconfigurations to align with the District's predominately PreK-6 and 7-12 grade configuration at the Gardner, Hennigan, and Hernández Schools, effective SY25-26
  • Closure of the West Zone Early Learning Center and consolidation with the Hennigan School, effective SY25-26
  • Closure of the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School, the last stand-alone middle school in BPS, effective SY25-26, and the beginning of a community process to collaboratively identify nearby schools that could merge and relocate into the Frederick building
  • Commencing a search for new sites to allow for the expansion of Boston Green Academy and Boston International Newcomers Academy
  • Scoping the feasibility of decarbonization projects at the JFK Elementary and Otis Elementary Schools
  • Scoping new capital investments in buildings in the BPS portfolio that are under-utilized but hold great potential for delivering the High-Quality Student Experience, including the old South Boston High, old Cleveland, and Lincoln buildings

Together, these changes and the resulting increase in students' and families' access to the High-Quality Student Experience reflect BPS' commitment that when students are impacted by a closure, consolidation, reconfiguration, or other change, they must be able to access the high-quality education that we continue to build towards.

"Valoro mucho que BPS esté tomando acción para ampliar los programas bilingües para estudiantes de inglés. Apoyar a los estudiantes tanto en inglés como en sus idiomas nativos es un paso importante para garantizar una educación de alta calidad para todos," said Rafaela Polanco García, member of the Boston School Committee. ["I really appreciate that BPS is taking action to expand bilingual programs for English language learners. Supporting students in both English and their native languages is an important step in ensuring a high quality education for all.”]

"I'm incredibly proud to be a part of this important work happening across BPS to really put our students and communities first during this grade configuration process," said Tanya M. Woodard, Principal of the Hennigan School. "Having open conversations more than a year in advance will allow our school communities to work together through this transition to ensure that our students and families, as well as students and families from the West Zone Early Learning Center are supported and warmly welcomed."

"The focus on expanding access to a high-quality education for all students across Boston is crucial to the future of BPS and we're seeing that work happening now," said Benjamin Helfat, Head of School for Boston Adult Technical Academy. "We are looking forward to opening our new satellite campus for BATA in East Boston this fall, which will create approximately 50 new seats for our 19-22 year old newcomer students and multilingual learners for the upcoming school year and more than 100 seats the following year."

BPS remains steadfast in ensuring that students remain the priority throughout this multi-year process and that school communities remain engaged and supported as the work progresses. See the 2024 School Proposals memo for more information.