Manning School Wants to Add 6th Grade in 2019 as Part of BuildBPS Plan

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The Boston Public School's BuildBPS plan calls for some old schools to close, new schools to be built, and other schools to expand, including growing the amount of K-6 schools. Jamaica Plain's Manning School wants to be one of the schools to add a sixth grade.

Joseph P. Manning Elementary School in Jamaica Plain

The Manning School submitted a letter to the Boston Public School Interim Superintendent Laura Perille on October 19, proposing the school expand to include a sixth grade for next fall.

“Our community has worked diligently over many years to create an environment in which ALL students, including students identified as having emotional impairments, can succeed,” wrote Ethan d’Ablemont Burnes, principal of the Manning School in the letter. “We therefore want to extend our programming to the 6th grade for the fall of 2019.”

Burnes said Manning School representatives will be offering public testimony in support of their proposal at the Nov. 7th Boston Public School Committee meeting starting at 6 pm at the Bruce Bolling Municipal Building (2300 Washington St., 2nd Floor, Roxbury).

The Manning School's proposal letter laid out its success story by highlighting its recent achievement as one of 52 schools in the state being named a School of Recognition by the state's Department of Education for high growth and exceeding targets. This is the second time in five years the school has achieved this recognition. An impressive highlight is that of those 52 schools, the Manning has the highest percentage of students with special needs, and is the only school with an inclusion model for students with emotional impairments.

The Manning School would require a small facilities renovation and could conceivably begin with a 6th grade in the 2019-2020 school year.

On Oct. 19th Perille provided a letter to students, families, teachers and staff about BuildBPS, a 10-year educational and facilities plan for the district.

One component of the plan met with pushback was the proposed closure of two school facilities: the West Roxbury Educational Complex that houses the West Roxbury Academy and the Urban Science Academy at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, and the McCormack Middle School at the end of the 2019-2020 school year, which would be reconfigured into a 7-12 middle/high school.

"By making difficult decisions now, we will position the district to build or extensively renovate as many as 12 schools, with additional improvements in many others. We will significantly reduce the number of times students will need to change schools, establishing clearer pathways toward graduation, which we know is a primary indicator of student achievement and post-graduation success," wrote Perille. "We will create more equitable program placement and learning opportunities for our most vulnerable students, including students with disabilities and English learners. We will also expand pre-K classroom seats in neighborhoods in which improved access is necessary to create a more equitable district."

Boston Public Schools are holding approximately 20 community meetings about the BuildBPS plan. Click here for a list of all the scheduled community meetings. As of Nov. 3, no meetings were scheduled to happen in Jamaica Plain, but more meetings may be scheduled.

The Boston Public Schools Committee is expected to vote on aspects of the BuildBPS plan in early December.