Mayor Thomas Menino and Boston Public School Superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson have tapped East Boston resident John Nucci to serve on the new 23-member board that will make up the city’s external advisory committee for improving school choice.
Nucci, former President of the Boston Public School Committee, served as At-Large City Councilor and is the current Vice President of Government and Community Affairs at Suffolk University.
The committee of 12 men and 11 women will work over the next year to help advise the school department as it engages the community on the topic of improving the city’s school assignment system.
The first large group meetings with the community will take place on Saturday, March 10 at 9 a.m. at East Boston High School.
Nucci said the goal is to create an opportunity to listen, learn from each other, and discuss potential changes.
“Mayor Menino has been the most pro-education mayor that Boston’s schoolchildren and their parents have ever had,” said Nucci who was a Boston Public School graduate and parent. “When the Mayor puts his mind to something, the job gets done and I’m happy to assist in any way to help develop a student assignment plan that works for both the students and their families.”
The committee will be co-chaired by Hardin Coleman, Dean of Education at Boston University.
“This is a top-notch team of people who will help advance this process over the next several months,” said Menino. “Our goal is to hear from a broad spectrum of the community with a variety of perspectives who will help us shape and move forward with a plan that works for the families of our city.”
Nucci said the external advisory committee will meet monthly in open meetings and will help advise BPS in community engagement strategies, identify data needs, and will provide feedback on possible school choice plans.
In his annual State of the City address in January Menino directed Johnson to appoint a committee as a step toward adopting “a radically different student assignment plan — one that puts a priority on children attending schools closer to their homes” within the year.
“We see this team of individuals as playing an important role in a transparent community engagement process,” said Johnson. “Our goal is for this to be an inclusive process that brings all voices to the table. This group will ensure we are analyzing this issue from every possible perspective.”
The Boston Opportunity Agenda, a partnership among the City of Boston, the Boston Public Schools and the city’s leading public charities, foundations and donors, is rallying behind Menino’s call to revamp the school assignment process in 2012.
Boston Opportunity Agenda partners have committed $400,000 to support this work.
“Any effort to revamp something as complex as Boston’s student assignment system needs to be structured to ensure that parents and community members are engaged and vital players in the discussion,” said Kristin McSwain, Director of Boston Opportunity Agenda. “Investing resources now in the planning increases the likelihood that a plan will be crafted which ensures community voice and equitable solutions.”
A round of small-group meetings later in the month will follow the meeting at East Boston High on March 10 and more meetings will be added throughout the spring, summer and fall before a final proposal is made to the School Committee in December.
“This work is about the future generations of Bostonians who will grow and learn in our schools,” said Chairperson of the Boston School Committee Rev. Dr. Gregory G. Groover, Sr., “We must come together and improve the choices parents have in our city so that Boston can continue to lead the way in urban public education.”