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2 Boston Schools Serving Hearing Impaired, Students With Special Needs To Move In 2021

ASL specialist Megan Malzkuhn teaches a class at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston. (Carrie Jung/WBUR)
ASL specialist Megan Malzkuhn teaches a class at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston. (Carrie Jung/WBUR)

It's the latest in a wave of existential changes for public schools in Boston: BPS will seek to relocate the Jackson/Mann K-8 School and the Horace Mann School for the Deaf before the 2021-22 school year, for fear that their shared building is deteriorating.

The news came in letters (PDF) sent to both school communities Tuesday from BPS Superintendent Laura Perille.

Perille cited "significant building challenges that could prevent the long-term operability of the site" beyond the summer of 2021. She assured parents and teachers that there is no "imminent danger" at the site, and that it will undergo significant repairs in the months ahead to carry it through the next two years.

There are currently 610 students enrolled at the Jackson/Mann, and 88 at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf.

The district will share an independent review of the building at the school committee meeting Wednesday night. But Perille cited issues with the roofing, windows and "air handler units" as factors supporting the move.

In 1975, the Horace Mann School for the Deaf — the city's only such school — relocated to the Jackson/Mann site, brand new at the time. And the building is home to a city-run community center, which would also have to move.

Neither Perille nor John Hanlon, BPS's director of operations, could be reached for comment in advance of Wednesday night's meeting.

In her letters, Perille doesn't suggest that the district plans to break up the two school communities that are housed in the building. She promises a "community process" over the next two years to weigh possible alternate locations for the schools. It's not entirely clear if the relocation would be permanent or temporary.

If the schools were to stay together through a move, it would set this announcement apart from the three outright school closures that have arisen in the past year: of the McCormack Middle School in Dorchester and of the two high schools in the West Roxbury Educational Complex (WREC).

But there are other ways in which the Jackson/Mann School resembles the schools in the WREC:

  • Both are home to specialized programs for autistic students in BPS.
  • Both school buildings opened for students in the mid-1970s: the Jackson/Mann in 1975, the WREC (then West Roxbury High School) in 1976.
  • Both buildings are far removed from Boston's densest population centers: the Jackson/Mann in Allston, and the WREC at the outer reaches of West Roxbury.
  • A 2017 facilities review commissioned by the district scored both buildings as in "good" condition and requiring only mild to moderate repairs.

All of these changes are part of "BuildBPS," a 10-year, $1 billion master plan for the district's physical footprint announced by Mayor Marty Walsh more than two years ago.

Related:

Max Larkin Twitter Reporter
Max Larkin is a multimedia reporter for Edify, WBUR's education vertical.

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