For Immediate Release
December 18, 2012
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
Mayor Menino’s External Advisory Committee on School Choice voted Thursday night to support a recommendation from Boston Public Schools that will offer sibling priority for all Boston families, even if a school falls outside the attendance area formed by a new school assignment plan. Boston Public Schools shared new data with the External Advisory Committee indicating BPS will be able to offer sibling priority. External Advisory Committee members voted to support the recommendation following a discussion about how long out-of-assignment-area sibling priority should be offered as an option.
“The intention with a new student assignment plan is to offer families quality schools, closer to home, building stronger communities.” Mayor Menino said. “Thursday's EAC recommendation will allow families to keep their children at schools where they have connected and invested as we transition towards a new school choice model.
The BPS analysis presented to the External Advisory Committee on School Choice shows that at most, between 15 and 25 percent of incoming students in school year 2014-15 would have older brothers and sisters who attend school outside a family's new attendance area, depending on the plan. This number would fall each year thereafter. While the policy might create some capacity pressures in certain schools, Superintendent Johnson told members of the Committee she believes the benefit of keeping siblings together is more important.
"Throughout nearly a year of conversations, approximately four thousand people have shared ideas for improving the system - and there is strong support for walk zones and sibling priority," said Superintendent Johnson. "This is why we are working hard to ensure these elements can be carried forward. It's the right thing to do and we are glad the EAC is supportive of our proposal to help families to stay together."
Under the BPS proposal, which the EAC voted to recommend, older brothers and sisters could 'pull' their younger siblings into out-of-attendance-area schools until the 2019-2020 school year. Transportation would also continue until that time. Under the BPS proposal, which the EAC voted to recommend, younger siblings could use sibling priority to select out-of-attendance-area schools with their older brothers and sisters until the 2019-2020 school year.
BPS has indicated that all plans it will present to the EAC will continue to allow "walk zone priority" and "sibling priority," both of which are offered today and are popular with families. With walk zone priority, a family can select any school within one mile of their home, even if it's across a zone boundary line. With sibling priority, BPS offers assignment preference to children who have a brother or sister in the school. Sibling priority works in two ways - an older sibling can 'pull' their younger brother or sister into a school they already attend, or a younger sibling can 'pull' an older brother or sister into a new school.
“We're doing something right as a school system when so many families tell us they want their two- or three-year old to go to the same school as their older brother or sister,” Mayor Menino said. “These families believe strongly in our teachers and our schools. I am glad we have found a way to accomplish our goal of building a better student assignment system while also offering families the choice to keep their children in school together.”
The External Advisory Committee on School Choice expects to receive a set of new school choice models in January, based on the EAC's goal of taking the ‘best of the best’ of all ideas on student assignment that have been put forward by BPS and the community. From there, EAC members will study the plans, engage the community, and make a recommendation to the Superintendent, which would then go to the Boston School Committee for a vote. A new plan would take effect for the 2014-15 school year.