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**Optimizing Boston’s School Buildings: A Strategic Blueprint**

Boston is facing a challenge with 119 [ppp1] due to a decline in enrollment, many of which are too small to meet the city’s objectives outlined by the team working on the Green New Deal for Boston Schools. To address this issue, the team has created a valuable tool in the form of a decision-making rubric for significant investments in Boston Public Schools.

Parents of students attending four schools in Roxbury and Dorchester have actively participated in workshops organized by the city’s team and [ppp2] to understand the proposed plans. In a letter dated December 21, 2023, addressed to Mayor Michelle Wu and BPS Superintendent Mary Skipper, parents and guardians of current and former students from these schools expressed their commitment to collaborating with the city team to influence the development of plans that would impact their schools. Despite knowing that their children will have moved on to higher grades by the time the building upgrades are completed, these schools remain vital resources within their community. Therefore, parents, students, educators, and neighbors are eager to ensure their voices are considered in both the planning and execution stages.

The combined enrollment of the four schools—Higginson Elementary, Higginson-Lewis, Ellis Elementary, and Trotter Elementary—is currently 966 students, representing 61 percent of their peak enrollment of 1,595 students between 2015 and 2018. These schools, some of which are a century old, are in need of attention, with the Trotter Elementary receiving the lowest score for physical conditions among the four in a recent school dashboard assessment.

In May 2022, three of these schools were identified among seven schools in the plans for a new school building in Roxbury, which is expected to become the future home of one or more of these schools. The community anticipates potential mergers or closures of schools and repurposing of buildings. Community members are advocating for early involvement in the decision-making process to avoid reactive responses post-announcement. The options under consideration for restructuring the buildings include consolidating schools to optimize resources, developing plans for affordable housing and community facilities in vacated buildings, and making immediate improvements to existing facilities to enhance the learning environment.

The proactive stance taken by parents and community partners underscores the importance of involving stakeholders in decisions concerning school facilities. They emphasize the significance of engaging in constructive dialogues to enhance current facilities in the short term while planning for the long term collaboratively with BPS. The letter to Mayor Wu and Superintendent Skipper stresses the necessity of including parents’ and neighbors’ voices from the outset to yield positive educational outcomes. This level of engagement exemplifies the kind of involvement BPS has been striving for and offers a potential model for other neighborhoods.

Brandy Brooks, Executive Director of Boston’s Higher Ground, and Shavonne Harrington, Director of Partnerships at Union Capital Boston.