BOSTON — The head of the Boston School Committee said its membership will likely approve a controversial proposal to close or merge more than a dozen Boston public schools.
Committee Chair Rev. Gregory Groover says it’s a difficult but inevitable decision when the district has 5,600 empty seats and faces a $63 million deficit.
“The only way that we can erase that — if not completely, at least substantially — is by closing schools of buildings in addition to transportation,” Groover said.
He says the changes are ultimately for the best and the only other option for the district would be to lay off hundreds of teachers.
“No one wants to be changed,” Groover said. “I know the anger, the frustration, the sadness that the parents are feeling, the students are feeling. We have to work through that. We have to be very sensitive and caring. But we also have to provide the necessary support systems to these students to make sure that they will land in good schools. And in the end, they will be in a better situation than they are now. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino on Tuesday asked the school committee to approve the plan, saying “it’s about the kids,” not the buildings.
But Boston Teachers Union President Richard Stutman says the school board didn’t do enough to fight to keep the schools open.
“The Boston school board will not forcefully fight for what is needed for our children in Boston,” Stutman said. “And I think that is the ultimate travesty, even far more than schools closing.”
He says the decision is purely economic and will hurt children’s education.
“To now turn around and say we can’t afford good schools, and at the same time say we need to improve, it’s kind of hypocritical,” Stutman said.