Decision time on BPS school closings nearing

Parents and parent organizing groups are beginning to stir as the countdown begins to October's School Committee meeting, where decisions will have to be made as to which schools will continue as is for the 2009-2010 school year and which will be "reconfigured" or transferred to other uses. So far, advocates say, the community has not been involved in the decision-making process.

"We're really talking about ten weeks," said Holly Lockwood, director of the Boston Parents Organizing Network.

She added that many parents and organizers who met at the Freedom House in Grove Hall last month were concerned about the possible outcomes and are requesting information from Boston Public Schools. Primarily, the location of the 8,000 empty seats the school system has previously pointed to as a reason for the closings.

"Some communities of color do not have enough seats to accommodate all the students living in their area," said Lockwood. "The parents would like to know where the empty seats are."

Also, the group is asking BPS for a history of school closings in Boston, focusing on the dates of closure and locations of each, as well as a schedule of when the community will be able to participate in the decision-making process.

Superintendent Carol Johnson's recommendations for the changes are expected in September.

Director of communications for BPS, Chris Horan, admitted that the timeframe will be short, but said there will be citywide meetings on the issue.

"Frankly, there's not a lot you can do over the summer without getting beat up over that too," said Horan. "There's not a schedule that's been put out yet. The superintendent is working with the school committee to formalize that schedule. When school is back in session, that process will begin."