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City councilors balk at BPS school-move plan; want to look at moving Fenway High to JP, not Mission Hill

Four city councilors told Boston school officials today they're not liking plans to spend $12 million to move Fenway High School to the building that now houses the Mission Hill K-8 School and New Mission High School - and another $3.5 million to get the moldy, shuttered Agassiz School in Jamaica Plain ready for the K-8 School and a brand-new high school.

Instead, Councilors Mike Ross, Steve Murphy, Mark Ciommo and Charles Yancey said, they want BPS officials to report back on the challenges of leaving the Mission Hill school where it is and moving Fenway to the Agassiz.

The musical-chairs program is an attempt by BPS to increase space available to what it says are the city's highest performing non-exam high schools - and to avoid having to repay the state $36 million for having closed Hyde Park High School two years ago.

At a hearing of Ciommo's Ways and Means Committee, Ross told Deputy BPS Superintendent Michael Goar that the Agassiz is larger than the Mission Hill building and his playing fields better suited to high-school students than the Mission Hill building.

Goar said, however, that the Agassiz is too far away from Fenway-area colleges, which have worked closely with Fenway High students and that the Agassiz would pose its own renovation challenges.

Ross retorted that the Agassiz is only 1 1/2 miles from the Mission Hill location, is on two bus lines and a short walk from the Orange Line.

Murphy, also the council president, made it clear that the final decision on the spending rests on the council - because it has to approve any borrowing for long-term projects. "There are no blank checks out of here anymore," he said.

Ciommo said he might wind up agreeing with BPS officials on the needs for the specific moves, but he wants more evidence supporting them before he votes on them.

As he does at every meeting involving school issues, Yancey said none of this would even be an issue if only the city had heeded his advice more than a decade ago to build a new high school in Mattapan.

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Comments

Ross said very clearly at the meetings that if BPS wants his vote on any kind of budget this year they better not touch the Mission Hill K-8 school. If that's a done deal, BPS just tossed Ross' vote.

It'll still get passed, but maybe 11-2 instead of the usual 12-1.

My Oliver Stone is kicking into overdrive and I'm increasingly convinced that there are those in City Hall that are deliberately trying to create chaos in the schools so that all the students by choice or force will either move out of the city or go to charters, private, parochial etc. I'm glad I'm not a parent trying to create some stability for a couple of kids - even if you get your kid into your school of choice, sounds like it might not be around in a year or two and all of your plans are out the window.

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