Boston Superintendent Carol R. Johnson is recommending the closing of six schools, including three high schools in Hyde Park, that have low academic achievement.
Johnson is proposing the closures tonight to the School Committee. All the schools are scheduled to close in June, pending committee approval next month. A series of public hearings will take place this month.
The other schools slated for closure are the Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School in Roxbury, and the Roger Clap Elementary and the East Zone Early Learning Center, both in Dorchester.
The proposal also calls for converting the Gavin Middle School in South Boston into a district-run charter school and merging the academically struggling Lee Academy with the better performing Joseph Lee Elementary School; both are located in the same building on Taylor Avenue in Dorchester, near the Mattapan border.
About 2,200 of the district's 56,000 students would be affected by the changes. Students at the closing schools will be given top priority when the district assigns students to schools for next fall, Johnson said.
The proposal is the biggest shake-up in the line-up of city schools that Johnson has pitched since fall 2008. That plan led the district to shutter six school buildings, merge several other schools, and open some new ones.
"What we are trying to do is make sure all our schools are high quality and places that parents would want to choose to send their children to," she said in an interview earlier today before the School Committee meeting.
Mayor Thomas Menino said he supported Johnson's plan.
"This proposal puts the best interest of the students and families of Boston at the forefront,'' Menino, a lifelong Hyde Park resident, said in a statement.
The proposal is part of Johnson's sweeping agenda to overhaul the district's 135 schools -- an effort that has sparked, among other initiatives, a new reading program for the elementary schools and massive revamps of 12 schools declared underperforming by the state earlier this year.
The district is plagued by excess capacity, with more than 4,000 empty seats spread among all its schools, a situation that is expected to worsen as more charter school open in the coming years. Each of those empty seats, district finance officials say, needlessly cost the city about $4,500 -- money that could be better spent on improving the education of students enrolled in the system.
Johnson's proposal also calls for expanding some programs, such as the Mario Umana Middle School Academy cq in East Boston adding an elementary school program for next fall and the opening of two in-district charter schools, the latter of which requires state approval.
One in-district charter school proposal is for the Green Academy, which would be geared for academically struggling students in grades 6-12. The other is to convert the Gavin Middle School into a charter school run by Unlocking Potential, a new nonprofit that is trying to help school districts turnaround persistently low-achieving schools.
Under the proposed conversion, Unlocking Potential will ask the staff to reapply for their jobs -- an action the district took earlier this year at seven underperforming schools.
"We are very grateful to Mayor Menino and Superintendent Johnson for giving Unlocking Potential a chance at turning around a struggling school," said Scott Given, the company's chief executive officer, in an interview this afternoon. "We won't disappoint them or the students in the school or their parents."
Johnson said that as the public weighs in this month, she expects to modify her proposal. Such input two years ago prompted her to reverse course on closing some schools.
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