2 Schools Would Close Under Boston School Budget

BOSTON — The Boston School Committee on Wednesday night unanimously voted to pass a more than $1 billion budget for the next year.

The spending plan calls for cutting more than 130 central office jobs and eliminating some school meal options. It also calls for closing two schools — Elihu Greenwood Leadership Academy and Rogers Middle School, both in Hyde Park — and merging two others.

Interim Superintendent John McDonough said the Muniz Academy in Jamaica Plain, the district’s dual language high school, would likely relocate to the Rogers building in 2016. Read More →

School Committee Roundup: Pembroke, Braintree, Easthampton, Southbridge

Here’s what’s happening right now in school districts across the state:

Pembroke: Cuts Reduce Budget Gap To Below $60,000

Members of the Pembroke School Committee have taken taken steps to shrink a school budget gap of $739,000 to below $60,0000, The Patriot Ledger reports.

The original gap grew by about $53,000 recently when the per-pupil figure in the governor’s proposed state budget was lowered from $25 to $20. Since then, the school committee has agreed on cuts that added up to $588,315. Read More →

Recycled Shipping Container Is Home To Student Farming

Taran Wise, a senior at Boston Latin School, prepares to harvest a crop of lettuce on March 16, 2015 in the school's freight farm. Students grew lettuce in the farm through the winter. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/WBUR)

BOSTON -- On the lawn behind Boston Latin School lies a recycled metal shipping container that contains cargo, perhaps, unlike anything it carried in its former life.

Inside of the 320-square-foot container's insulated walls, lays a low-energy farm in which students grow fresh produce year-round. The freight farm -- named after the shipping container it resides in -- is operated by students who dedicate time to the farm during study halls and after school.

"What the freight farm is, is a hydroponic farm which uses no soil," says Taran Wise, a senior. "So it circulates water through the farm, mixed with nutrients."

Over the past two months Boston Latin School students have worked almost daily to cultivate lettuce, raising and maintaining the plants from seed to harvest. Read More →

Under Claims Of Equity, Boston Plans To Cut School Meal Options

Instead of entree dishes, cafeterias will offer peanut-butter-and jelly sandwiches every day, along with meals that BPS officials have determined as “popular.” (Peter Balonon-Rosen/WBUR)

BOSTON -- In the wake of a potential budget shortfall of $42-$51 million, Boston school officials have proposed major cuts to the district's school meal program. The changes, which would reduce the variety and number of food options to Boston students, are scheduled to begin next month.

The changes include cutting back hot breakfast to just two days a week and a reduction in the number of overall lunch options available to students.

"We're decreasing the options, really, to provide equity amongst the schools," said Deborah Ventricelli, deputy director of Boston Public Schools' Department of Food and Nutrition Services (DFNS). "We have cafeteria schools that have full kitchens and we have satellite schools that do not have any kitchens. We've seen over the years that we've had more options available in the cafeteria than in satellite schools." Read More →

Behind The Scenes Of Cambridge’s School Lunch

Cambridge Public Schools' “breakfast-for-lunch” menu: egg and cheese sandwich on croissant, hash browns, turkey sausage patty, selections from the salad bar and a side of fruit. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/WBUR)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- In the kitchen at Kennedy-Longfellow Elementary School, staff hurriedly prepared to serve that day's "breakfast-for-lunch" menu: egg and cheese sandwich on croissant, hash browns, turkey sausage patty, selections from the salad bar and a side of fruit.

It was just after 10:40 a.m. and the day's first lunch period, serving kindergarten students, had begun.

Armed with hair nets, visors, plastic gloves and, above all, a mission to keep students fed, Cambridge's school nutrition workers work daily to craft a school lunch that can both meet nutrition standards and please students. Read More →

Inquiry-Based Arts And Engineering Space Enriches Student Learning

Senior Marcelo Sosa Mena, 18 (left), and Junior Keyur Patel, 16, work in Nedlam's Workshop on March 9, 2015. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

MALDEN, Mass. -- When Eddie Urbina decided that he wanted to create a mobile platform for his drum set in the hopes of awing fellow students at this year's "Junior Varieties" talent show at Malden High School, he turned to the new workshop in the basement of his school.

"I thought, 'It's my senior year, why not go go all out?' " said Urbina on a recent Wednesday afternoon sitting atop his new mobile drum platform. "I made a simple sketch design and then I came down here to ask for help. About a month later here we are."

Urbina is in Nedlam's Workshop, a recently restylized, formerly underutilized woodshop in the basement of Malden High School. Nedlam -- Malden spelled backwards -- is also the name of the school's lion mascot.

Over the course of this school year the space has turned from a near-abandoned woodworking shop into a humming hub for inquiry-based arts and engineering projects at the high school. Read More →

Baker Appoints Paul Sagan As Education Chair

Paul Sagan, executive-in-residence at Cambridge venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners, is the new chair of the state board of education. (Wikimedia)

Gov. Charlie Baker has tapped an executive-in-residence at Cambridge venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners as the new chair of the state board of education.

Paul Sagan replaces Board of Elementary and Secondary Education member Karen Daniels, whose term expired in January. Outgoing Chair Margaret McKenna will remain on the board until her term expires in 2019, according to the Baker administration.

“Paul Sagan brings decades of executive and philanthropic experience to the Board, but more importantly, a deep commitment to expanding high quality educational opportunities for Massachusetts’ students, especially in our highest need communities,” Baker said in a statement. Read More →

Boston Students Prepare For The 69th Annual Citywide Science Fair

Sydney Sanchez, eighth grade student at John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science, poses with her project "How Do Different Liquids Affect Food Coloring Dispersion?" on March 4, 2015. She is one of a handful of students from the school who will present their projects at the Boston Citywide Science Fair. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/WBUR)

BOSTON -- When many of us think of a science fair, images of painted dioramas, potato batteries or baking-soda-and-vinegar volcanoes may leap to mind.

But for the roughly 350 Boston Public Schools students preparing for 69th annual Boston Citywide Science Fair on Saturday, those projects may seem like child's play.

The fair will feature middle and high school students from across the city presenting projects related to STEM subjects -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The top students from each of the participating school's science fairs are sent to the citywide fair. Read More →

How One Student Went From Illiteracy To The Top Of Her Class

Audrey Lang flips through her notes for her Citywide Science Fair project at Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers on March 3, 2015. She is valedictorian of her senior class, but until sixth grade did not know how to read or write. (Peter Balonon-Rosen/WBUR)

BOSTON -- This Saturday's 69th Annual Boston Citywide Science Fair will feature the best and brightest of Boston Public Schools' (BPS) budding student scientists. Roughly 350 students will publicly present projects related to science, technology, engineering and math.

The students will be vying for prizes in the form of scholarships, grants, a chance to advance to the statewide science fair and, for top prize winners, a coveted place at the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in May.

Last year, Boston students did just that. Perhaps most well known is Nathan Han who, as a freshman at Boston Latin School, won top honors at ISEF and took home the $75,000 Gordon Moore Award.

Yet, Han was just one of four Boston students who won the chance to go to ISEF to present their projects. Another was Audrey Lang. This year she's a senior and again has an eye on the Citywide Science fair. Read More →

Opinion: Doing Early Childhood Education Right

By Dr. Donna Housman

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo has identified expansion of early education as one of his top three priorities for the current legislative session, and recently called on the state to “provide early access to high quality programming for our youngest children.”

On the face of it, the speaker’s call to action should generate little opposition, except perhaps over the question of how he intends to fund this expansion. But there is in fact a growing backlash against early childhood education, with critics arguing that there is scarce evidence supporting pre-K; that the benefits of pre-K dissipate quickly or that early childhood education’s benefits redound mainly to lower-income students.

Further, the speaker’s remarks beg the very important question of what constitutes “high quality” early childhood education. Read More →