Menino urges delay in key Boston school-assignment vote

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino is asking for delay of a key vote Saturday by a special panel he appointed to overhaul the way students are assigned to schools.

In a letter to the External Advisory Committee on Tuesday, Menino urged the panel to put off a decision that would recommend one of three plans to the School Committee.

“This would provide more opportunity for community members to provide feedback on the plans, for EAC members to review analysis, and for the public to use the tools we have created to allow them to see their individualized school choice options under the proposals,’’ Menino said.


But he urged members to complete their work before the end of this month “so that we can move forward in improving school choice for our students.’’

Changing the school assignment system is a priority for Menino, who believes that having more children who live on the same streets attending the same schools would improve the fabric of neighborhoods.

His letter follows a meeting Monday night at which parents voiced concerns that the three proposals could limit families’ access to a good education. They also asked the panel to delay a vote to recommend one of the plans to the School Committee.

In a separate letter to the panel, minority elected officials from Boston requested a delay.

Late last month, school officials released three plans.

One would create 10 assignment zones that divide the city’s approximately 80 elementary and K-8 schools and its early childhood centers, a proposal that would offer between three and 14 school choices.

The two other proposals, created with assistance from an MIT doctoral student and a professor, call for no zones.

Instead, a complex algorithm would generate a list of schools that parents can choose from based on a variety of factors, such as distance from home, school capacity, and MCAS performance. One of the “no-zone’’ proposals would guarantee at least six school choices and the other at least nine.


A new plan is scheduled to take effect in September 2014.

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