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Boston School Committee Approves New School Assignment Plan

BOSTON — The Boston School Committee on Wednesday night approved a major overhaul of how students are assigned to the city’s public schools in an effort to allow students to attend schools closer to their homes.

By a vote of 6 to 1, the committee approved the so-called Home-Based/A model that was advanced by a special advisory committee last month. The plan would give parents a choice of at least six schools based on a number of factors including distance from school and MCAS scores — with at least four of them rated as “medium” or “high” quality.

The new system, which does away with the three-zone system that has been used since 1989, will go into effect in the fall of 2014.

The committee eliminated a measure that would give extra options to students who live within one mile of a school, or a “walk zone.” BPS spokesman Lee McGuire says the new system already takes into account a student’s distance from a school.

“We felt having an old rule from the old plan was not necessary because that’s what the new system does. It helps all students go to school much closer to home,” McGuire said.

Superintendent Carol Johnson was not at the hearing because of the death of her husband. Johnson sent a letter to be read before the vote, which offered her support for the plan.

“Until we can guarantee that every student has equal access to quality, we must keep working on quality,” Johnson said in her statement. “In the meantime, our assignment system must compensate for the current inequitable distribution across the district of our highest quality schools. That is what is fair.”

City Councilor John Connolly, a mayoral candidate, opposes the assignment plan. He says it does not guarantee students will attend a school close to their home.

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