At each citywide community meeting, we are working to inform and engage the community in a unique way. We’ve created an interactive community meeting with the goal of informing the public while getting their feedback on the proposal and engaging with them to improve it.
After each meeting, we will publish notes from our team on key areas of discussion. They will not have the context of the speaker or subject, but will, we think help inform the online discussion while being transparent about the feedback we are getting– positive, negative, and beyond.
Our meeting at the East Boston Public Library began with families sharing their experiences with enrollment. Family members shared that:
- Process took a year for one student to get into Cristo Rey Boston High School
- One family with two students in Mario Umana Middle School Academy is happy with current enrollment process
- Another family waited four hours to sign up
- Information on quality schools exists but is difficult to find
- Enrollment process even more difficult for students with special needs or language needs
- One family was disappointed with the long enrollment process
- Drove to Dorchester from East Boston to sign up, did not get in until July after originally not being accepted at any schools, ended up in a school far from home
After hearing about the current enrollment systems and the proposed unified enrollment system, members broke into three groups to discuss the “what ifs.”
Group A: Family Communication
What information would be most helpful to families in selecting schools? In what formats?
- Discipline and suspension rates
- Back filling during enrollment
- Transportation offerings
- Program offerings for special need students
- Programs for English Language Learners
- Tier rankings that are not based on MCAS Scores
- Information about the school community, culture
- Whether or not students wear uniforms
- Whether students recite the pledge of allegiance
- What level of parent involvement
Group B: SPED/ELL
How would you want to be informed of school choices for children with specialized needs? What information would you want about particular services available at schools?
- Supports and services available at each school
- Comparison of BPS/Charter services and supports
- Would want to see educators share expertise across schools
- What’s difference between charter and district funding, could they be the same
- Like BPS – Charter unification because of potential to be better
- How schools differentiate between disability and ELL, need a process in place
- Information on IEPs need to be translated into recipient family’s first language
- Need to follow protocols for notice before IEP meetings, providing translation two or more days before meeting and being accountable
- First IEP meeting should include the appropriate director and entire IEP team
- SPED + ELL meetings need to be more parent-friendly
- Need SPED implementation and coordination at every school
- Better communication with all families on an on-going basis
- Want information on each school – licensing, attrition, etc.
- Information for families to learn about system and website
- Proportional representation of districts and charters on list
Group C: System Administrator
If you had a question or issue with unified enrollment, who would you want to help you resolve it?
- Publicly and transparently
- Want to see equity data
- Maybe a university or a third-party as the administrator
- Non-biased staff well-trained in school information for both sectors
- Third party administrator like DESE or a nonprofit, not a private entity
- Some wanted to see a state or government elected official like Tito Jackson, others do not want an elected official administering
- All charters have to be included, perhaps encouraging participation through incentives or penalties
- Administrators should create qualifications for schools to achieve citywide status
- Welcome center open at all same times of the year
Participants in East Boston also discussed potential pros and cons of unifying enrollment.
|·Application process would be easier·Access to schools closer to home·Increased odds of getting into a charter, if you choose
·Better timing for scheduling and decision making
|· Fewer charter schools in East Boston (sharing seats with Chelsea families)· Need a more clear plan for supporting students with disabilities· Fewer Charter school options for some
· No data on current home-based assignment system, not sure if it is equitable
· Waitlist applied in future – narrow district school choices
· Could charters who opt out of unified enrollment gain an advantage?
· Need definitions of “quality school”
· Anticipate a concentration of ELL/SPED students at certain schools
· Need to trust administration of system
· Two sectors not playing by same rules, funding inequities
· Teacher licensing issues