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In an effort to address a projected $63 million budget gap next year, Boston Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson is unveiling a plan to close or merge more than a dozen schools.
Speaking to Morning Edition Thursday, Johnson called it a difficult, but necessary, decision.
"If we don't take this course of action, we won't be able to provide the strong academic program across the system that's necessary to continue the academic improvements that we've begun," Johnson said.
A previous version of Johnson's plan — which would have shuttered or merged eight schools — stirred up criticism, especially among parents, students and staff in schools slated for closure. They said decisions were based on faulty data and the process was rushed.
Johnson says the latest iteration of the plan is intended to be forward-looking.
"I think this plan tries to reposition us so that we can change our course of direction and really not make drastic cuts to all schools, but really focus on how we can improve academics across the district for the long-term," she said.
Johnson says she'll also be looking for concessions from the teachers union.
But Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union, says the plan does not take into consideration the long-term needs of the district.
"I don't see how anyone can say closing three or four, five elementary schools that work is a good idea," Stutman said. "It's just not the case."
Stutman says the plan would create a two-tiered system in which students with difficulties would not be able to attend smaller schools.
"Those students will be housed in larger schools that I think are impersonal and somewhat like warehouses," he said.
Johnson presents the plan to the Boston School Committee at a public meeting Thursday night. The committee is expected to vote on the plan later this month.
-- Here's Johnson's school closure plan (on Scribd):
This program aired on December 2, 2010.
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