Michael Loconto was elected chairperson of the Boston Public School Committee in the beginning of 2018. As a parent of three school-age children he has a keen perspective of the school system. He answered questions from Jamaica Plain News about library services for schools, his relationship with Mayor Martin Walsh and more. Q: Let's get some basics out of the way. You live in West Roxbury with your wife and three school-age kids?
Many Boston Public School students are expected to participate in a nationwide 17-minute walkout on March 14th -- the one-month anniversary of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In Boston, public schools are holding the "BPS Day of Observance: #Enough," which will include classroom-based activities to provide students opportunities to express their feelings, views and concerns. Students or their parents may choose to opt out of participating in the events -- if a parent provides a written note or email. Superintendent Tommy Chang informed BPS parents about the planned walkout and day of observance through a letter. While he recognizes that students will choose to walkout and leave schools grounds, with some heading to the State House to participate in a planned protest, he also encouraged students to remain at schools and participate in the scheduled events.
At the Boston Public Schools, we believe that our budget is a values statement, reflecting our commitment to creating the best schools for all our students. Through the BPS budget, we prioritize investing in every individual learner throughout their academic career. We must ensure that all students — regardless of their race, native language, or immigration status — have equitable access to the supports they need to prepare them to succeed in college, career and life. Here in Boston, the biggest percentage of the city’s budget is allocated to investing in our students and our schools. This is due to Mayor Walsh’s commitment to creating 21st century classrooms with excellent teachers, learning environments and tools for students.
After hearing from many disgruntled parents, staff and stakeholders, Boston Public Schools Superintendent Tommy Chang announced the plan to change start and end times for the 2018-2018 school year has been cancelled. The Boston School Committee approved the plan earlier this month to alter start and end times, which quickly drew criticism, and forced BPS to holding citywide meetings about the plan. The biggest issue with the plan was that many elementary schools would've started at least two hours earlier than 2017-2018. In Jamaica Plain alone the Hennigan, Manning and Mission Hill K-8 School would've started at least two hours earlier in the 2018-2019 school year compared to 2017-2018. The JFK school would've started more than an hour earlier. The schools would've also ended earlier.
Some Boston Public School students will get to sleep in a little later next year as the Boston School Committee approved altering start and end times for the 2018-2019 school year. But that's not the case for several Jamaica Plain schools as three schools will actually start two hours earlier and another school will start one hour earlier. “School bell times have tangible impacts on the lives of families, ranging from jobs to a student’s academic performance,” said BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang. “As a district, we must make sure that our students and families are set up for success, and they deserve nothing less. I am confident that next year’s school bell schedule will be an improvement for the majority of families, and is reflective of the feedback we have received from thousands of students, parents, and staff.”
But the Hennigan, Manning and Mission Hill K-8 School are all starting at least two hours earlier in the 2018-2019 school year compared to 2017-2018.