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School officials say they believe they finally have overcome the concern over low-performing schools by overhauling programs and teaching instruction at many schools. They noted that more schools now have waiting lists.
But they acknowledge that more work needs to be done. Johnson said she is planning to target 21 schools for more aggressive interventions.
“We are always trying to make our schools, schools of choice for families in the city,” she said.
Since March, an advisory committee appointed by Menino — consisting of more than 24 parents, academics, business professionals, and other community leaders — has immersed itself in data, research, and public outreach.
In hearing from more than 2,300 stakeholders, the committee has heard what many parents and others want out of a student-assignment system: strong academics and a safe environment close to home.
But priorities differ based on where parents live. Those in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, for instance, tend to place a higher premium on safety over proximity; those in West Roxbury, East Boston, and Charlestown like neighborhood schools.
It is the same dynamic of opinion that the School Department confronted in 2004 when it sought input from about 750 parents, community activists, and other interested parties.
“There is no way every neighborhood and every family will have quality choices” in 2014 if the School Committee adopts a plan for smaller assignment zones, said Mary Battenfeld, a Jamaica Plain mother of three children. “I think we need more investment in quality schools across the city.”