BPS could close more schools. Parents say it’s high time to have a detailed plan.

Boston Public School parents and local education activists are growing increasingly concerned about what they fear will be inevitable school closures and consolidations as enrollment continues to decline. From 2015 to today, the number of students enrolled by the BPS has fallen by 15%, from 54,000 students to 46,000.

Parents and school reform advocates said they want a blueprint for the $2 billion in changes to school buildings that Mayor Michelle Wu proposed in the spring as part of her Green New Deal for BPS. Some said a detailed plan would give children greater educational stability and allow families to plan for changes, while ensuring racial equity. Others said urgent and comprehensive planning is a financial necessity in a city where enrollment is down.

Brenda Ramsey, a mother of two in Dorchester, doesn’t like the current uncertainty. Her youngest daughter attends PA Shaw, a school that may — or may not — be on the chopping block. She already lived through the closure of Mattahunt Elementary School five years ago with her eldest daughter and is not looking forward to going through it again.

” I do not know if [district leaders] know what it’s like to have to go through a stoppage,” Ramsey said. “It’s traumatic for the students, it’s traumatic for the families.”

Will Austin of the Boston Schools Fund said Wu’s Green New Deal was not a real plan. The “green” part of the proposal refers to the need to make schools climate-proof, Wu said, because they produce more than half of the emissions from city-owned buildings. Austin said he’s concerned the city hasn’t released details outlining how it will move forward.

“That level of detailed planning didn’t exist,” he said. “A real facility master plan will very, very clearly lay out the priority projects. Where, why, and what is the rough budget and execution plan for this? Without that, you’re just talking about ideas .”

School district leaders said Wu’s team has announced preliminary plans and is undertaking a broader facility condition assessment and school design study. The mayor proposed to fund 25 new positions, including 10 in the city budget and 15 in the BPS facilities team. Wu also proposed renovating or consolidating 15 schools ahead of the creation of a master plan to be completed by fiscal 2025.

This long timeline has frustrated parents and caregivers who literally watched their children grow up amid successive promises of school improvements and renovations under previous administrations that never fully materialized. There was the overhaul and reinvestment plan under former Mayor Thomas Menino’s administration, the Build BPS initiative under former Mayor Marty Walsh, and now Wu’s Green New Deal for BPS.

The Democrats’ state director for education reform, Mary Tamer, a former Boston school board member, said more urgent planning was needed. Successive mayors have allowed the problem of overcapacity in schools to worsen as school enrollment in Boston continues to decline. When the number of students decreases in a school, spending per student also decreases, often leaving a school underfunded, with unfilled seats or less money for teachers.

Right now, the difference is $50 million across all Boston schools combined, a prize called “soft landing” money.

“If we ever want really invest in our school system, we can’t waste $50 million a year on empty seats,” Tamer said. “We can’t keep pushing this down the road, we need to have a plan of the schools we’re going to close? What school buildings do we need for the number of children we actually have in the system?”

Former BPS administrator and veteran school activist Barbara Fields said a thorough master plan is the only fair course. She is part of the Build BPS Coalition which reviewed school restructuring plans under the Walsh administration. (The group plans to change its name to Green New Deal Coalition, she said.)

Fields said the Black Educators Association of Massachusetts and the Committee for Civil Rights filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights criticizing former Mayor Menino’s overhaul and reinvestment plan — which involved the closure of 18 schools in the city – because 90% of the students it would have affected were black or brown.

“Black students from predominantly Black communities are disproportionately disrupted, dispersed, reassigned, and subject to school mergers, while white and Asian students are more likely to benefit from stability, improved curricula, and upgrades to facilities,” the complaint reads.

Fields said that complaint, filed in 2011, was never resolved. And she said she now wants to see a full plan, which was approved using the district’s Racial Equity Planning Tool, a district policy required to ensure fair decision-making. She said decisions about schools like PA Shaw or half a dozen schools in Roslindale were being made in the meantime. She said she personally requested a meeting with Wu’s administration on the issue, after Wu promised such a meeting during the election campaign, but received no response.

“We don’t want the impact of school closures to be in the black community, where the negative impact has always been,” Fields said.

Fields said the PA Shaw K-4 school in Mattapan, whose student body is predominantly black, was not given the go-ahead to move from kindergarten to sixth grade. It currently serves grades K-4, and the fourth-grade class is a one-year temporary addition in response to calls from parents. Fields said the reason was that there was no clear location for it.

This differs from Wu’s proposed school consolidations of several schools in Roslindale, which the school committee has allowed to add sixth grade classrooms, although it is unclear where those classrooms will be located.

“They all started in a similar boat, but were treated totally differently,” Fields said.

Sumner School, which Wu’s son attends, is one such school in Roslindale. Parents there are also unhappy with Wu’s plans and the uncertain nature of some changes in the absence of a larger district-wide plan.

Allison Friedman, a parent at Sumner, said the school has the most racially diverse and neurodiverse student body in the city’s Roslindale section. She asked why whiter, wealthier schools in Roslindale aren’t facing closure or reconfiguration if enrollment dips. And like Fields, she urged the city to use the district’s racial equity planning tool to plan more comprehensively and fairly.

“What we oppose is a one-time merger, where there’s no plan for where we’re going to go in the future,” Friedman said. “Basically we need a long-term plan.”

In the meantime, the Boston school board will consider proposals for how schools will be reconfigured next fall.

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