The School Committee voted tonight to shut nine schools and merge eight other schools into four.
Committee member Michael O'Neill said he voted for the painful move proposed by Superintendent Carol Johnson because "it's clear beyond a doubt that additional assistance is not coming to us," not from the city, not from the state and certainly not from the federal government. Member John Barros said the choice was either to make cuts to bolster the remaining schools or drag down all the schools in the system with cuts.
Chairman Gregory Groover said the reorganization will put the system on a stronger footing so that "we will see quality schools in every single neighborhood and every child will have access to quality schools." In the meantime, though, the reorganization is only expected to save $10 million; BPS says it still needs to come up with $53 million to close an anticipated budget gap.
The vote came at the end of a long and contentious public hearing, in which parents and students at the affected schools pleaded for their schools to continue.
Schools to be shut: The East Zone Early Learning Center in Dorchester (students to the Matahunt); Fifield Elementary School in Dorchester (students have priority at other East Zone schools); the Middle School Acadamy in Dorchester (moves to the current Gavin building); Emerson Elementary in Roxbury (students have priority for other North Zone seats; Cape Verdean SEI student move to a different school); Farragut Elementary, Mission Hill (students have priority in other North Zone schools); Alighieri Elementary in East Boston; Agassiz Elementary, Jamaica Plain (students have priority for other West Zone seats); the Engineering School and the Social Justice Academy in Hyde Park.
Schools to be merged: Lee Academy and Lee Elementary in Dorchester; the Alighieri and Umana in East Boston; the Urban Science Academy and Parkway Academy of Technology and Health in West Roxbury; the Brook Farm Business and Service Career Academy and the Media Communications Technology High School in West Roxbury; Excel High School and Monument High School, South Boston.
Gavin Middle School and Green Academy in South Boston and Clap School in Dorchester will become in-district charter or "innovation" schools.
Many in the large crowd booed the committee and yelled their disagreement throughout the evening. Tom Menino came in for his share of criticism as well, with some wondering why he could find the time to address the chamber of commerce yesterday but not parents tonight. City Councilors Felix Arroyo and Charles Yancey joined parents in opposing the closures.
There was a heavy police presence to deter trouble:
Some video from the hearing: