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Parents blast school closings Demand chief alter plans before Nov. 3

Parents blast school closings
Demand chief alter plans before Nov. 3
By Edward Mason  |   Wednesday, October 27, 2010  |  http://www.bostonherald.com  |  Local Coverage

WEIGHING THE FACTS: The Rev. Gregory Groover, Boston’s school committee chairman, speaks during yesterday’s meeting.
Photo by Chitose Suzuki

An overflow crowd of 600 angry Hub parents lashed out at Boston school chief Carol R. Johnson’s plans to shutter two elementary schools, merge two and a close a high school during a School Committee meeting at English High School.

“By closing our schools, you’re driving a stake in our community,” said Kenny Jervis, a parent at Clap Elementary, slated to close. “We don’t want to go to the suburbs.”

Dozens of parents and teachers clad in yellow T-shirts blasted the decision to close the Early Learning Center day care.

“It would be a disservice to the kids of Dorchester and Roxbury,” said Lisa Kincade, a teacher at the ELC. “I’m asking the superintendent to think about the little ones.”

After earlier community meetings, Johnson had reversed course and scrapped plans to merge two Dorchester elementary schools and shutter a Hyde Park High School, but kept the lion’s share of her ambitious program to remake the city’s struggling schools intact.

Johnson had bowed to the earlier pressure from furious parents angry at plans to merge the Lee Academy pilot school with the Lee Elementary in Dorchester. Johnson made tweaks to her plan ahead of last night’s meeting, such as halting the merger of the Lee schools and allowing the Community Academy of Science and Health — part of the Hyde Park education complex — to remain intact, while possibly moving it from its current location. Green Academy, an in-district charter school, will now replace a current high school in the fall of 2012.

Unchanged are plans to shutter a pair of elementary schools — the Ralph Waldo Emerson School in Roxbury and Clap. The East Zone Early Learning Center would be moved to the William Trotter School in Roxbury and James Holland School in Dorchester. If the School Committee votes Nov. 3 to approve the plan, the schools would close in June.

Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union, called the plan a “disservice” and demanded Johnson scrap the plan and start over.

Johnson’s sweeping program for change is part of a dramatic effort to improve the city’s struggling schools. Her proposal targeted several city schools where kids performed the worst on MCAS tests.

Johnson said withering criticism from parents and teachers after the plan was unveiled last month led to last month’s changes, and she wouldn’t rule out more.

“I’m always hearing to the voices of the parents and teachers,” Johnson said. “I’m always taking notes.”

The Rev. Gregory Groover, school committee chairman, said he wouldn’t rubber-stamp the changes: “It’s not a done deal.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1291808

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