Boston school officials say they are likely to temporarily close two schools that share a deteriorating building in the city's Allston neighborhood for extensive renovations, but some parents worry the announcement could ultimately lead to a permanent closure.
The Boston Globe reports that parents, students, and staff of the Jackson Mann K-8 School and the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing were notified of a possible two-year shutdown and relocation in a letter from interim Superintendent Laura Perille. The two schools share a building, which also houses a community center.
The letter noted that a recent engineering review uncovered significant issues with several building operation systems, including the roof and air handler units. The short-term plan is to make necessary repairs, but the engineering report also suggested that at some point the building “should be shut down and rebuilt.”
However, Perille stressed the building “is a safe and secure environment.”
"Nothing in the facilities analysis indicates that there is an imminent danger to students or staff,” she wrote.
Relocating Jackson Mann, which serves more than 600 students, could present a challenge—the system has few empty buildings and is juggling other old schools in poor condition.
A presentation prepared for the Boston School Committee indicated that programs at the Jackson Mann may need to be scaled back to fit the school in a smaller location, which likely could be outside the Allston-Brighton area.
The school system has been cutting back enrollment at Jackson Mann in recent years. Over the last three years, enrollment has declined to 610, from 775.
The district believes that Horace Mann, which has fewer than 100 students, will be easier to relocate.
Jackson Mann parents have been on guard about a possible closure since November, when school officials released a facilities plan that found Allston-Brighton has far more classroom seats than students. Most Jackson Mann students are bused in from other neighborhoods that have a shortage of schools.