The Boston school committee has voted to close the West Roxbury high school complex

Boston proposal calls for building or renovating a dozen schools

Oct. 17, 2018
The plan also would gradually phase out middle schools and combine several elementary campuses.

Boston school officials are planning to build or extensively renovate a dozen schools, gradually phase out middle schools, and merge several elementary schools over the next decade.

The Boston Globe reports that the proposal will be presented to the School Committee Wednesday night.

The most immediate actions call for closing two high schools in June in the West Roxbury area — Urban Science Academy and West Roxbury Academy. Deteriorating building conditions almost prevented those campuses from opening last month, interim Superintendent Laura Perille says.

The proposal is part of Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s four-year-old BuildBPS plan, which aims to spend $1 billion in city and state funding to overhaul the city’s 125 schools.

“What we are preparing to share on Wednesday night is the largest school building plan in 40 years in Boston,” Perille says. “This will be new or expanded buildings in neighborhoods with high student need and low access.”

The proposal comes 1½ years after a city commission review found that most of the system’s 125 schools — two-thirds of which were built prior to World War II — were in need of significant repair or renovation.

The recommendation to close the two high schools has already created a stir at Urban Science Academy and West Roxbury Academy, which collectively educate about 750 students.

The McCormack Middle School, which serves roughly 400 students, also has been notified that it could close at the end of the next school year, representing the first in a wave of middle-school closings in the coming years.

The 12 new or renovated schools that are part of the proposal include two projects already underway — a new Boston Arts Academy and a third building for the Eliot K-8 School.

The proposal aims to go beyond just school building projects and attempts to address other educational issues, such as reducing the variety of grade spans across the system. Under the proposal, Boston would become a system predominantly of lower-grade schools that extend to grade 6 or 8 and secondary schools that begin at grade 7 or 9.

That move would cause an unspecified number of school consolidations. Many of Boston’s elementary schools now end at grade 5, and a number of them don't have space to add sixth grade.

School officials hope this will be the beginning of a school construction boom, which Boston has not experienced since the 1970s. The first BuildBPS building actually opened in September: the Dearborn STEM Academy; the development of that campus began about a decade ago.

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