School plan revealed before snowbound meeting
The city is expected to get another 14 inches of snow today in two bursts — the current one of about eight inches that is more than enough to bring about another city parking ban, starting at 8 p.m., and a second starting tonight after a few hours’ pause.
But tonight also brings the official announcement of Superintendent Jeffrey Young’s selection of a plan for the city’s public school district, at a regular 6 p.m. meeting of the School Committee in City Hall, which Mayor David Maher said Monday would go on “snow or no snow.”
Attendance could yet be affected by Young’s announcement of the decision to The Boston Globe, which is reporting today that he hopes to “slash from 12 to four the number of schools that serve 11- to 14-year-olds, a move intended to centralize instruction for the 1,200 students in grades 6 through 8.”
The Globe’s Meghan Irons writes:
The effort is aimed at narrowing disparities in class size, teacher training, and resources available to students at different schools. The disparities tend to shortchange minority students and those who are foreign-born or have special needs, Young said. Many arrive at high school poorly prepared …
His plan would consolidate those students in four schools, where class sizes would be more even, teachers can more easily collaborate, and academic offerings would be more rigorous. Special needs students and English language learners would receive more attention than in the past. Teachers would undergo more training, and the district would work with institutions like Harvard and MIT to design better math and science classes.
Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service says, snowfall will become sleet and freezing rain, and that night there will be light snow again — just in time for a committee roundtable from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, also at City Hall, for a discussion about the middle school grades. Roundtables mean less formal discussion among committee members, but no votes and no public comment.
That means most parent reactions to Young’s plan will come at two town hall meetings, from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Frisoli Youth Center, 61 Willow St., and from 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 10 at the West Cambridge Youth Center, 680 Huron Ave., and at a Feb. 15 committee meeting that will serve as a public hearing on the idea, according to the district’s posted calendar.
The committee will vote March 1 whether to accept and implement Young’s selection, which would affect students starting in the 2012-13 school year.
The other options Young could have selected were:
- Keeping the system as it is, with a dozen schools;
- Cutting the city’s dozen schools to up to six with two buildings each, each with its own principal, in which the same group of students switch from one building to another at Grade 3 or 4;
- Changing about half of city schools to keep students only until Grade 5 or 6, when they would transfer to other schools through Grade 8.
Committee vice chairman Marc McGovern and member Alice Turkel led the team making the four proposals.