May 7, 2021
Yesterday, the Boston Public Schools announced that the Jackson/Mann K8 School will close in June 2022.
I am very disappointed that the school could not be relocated to temporary space in Allston-Brighton during new construction. Jackson/Mann is a wonderful school whose teachers and administration have dedicated their lives to educating the children of Boston. This announcement creates disruption for families of students and educators, and the loss of a caring community of teachers and learners in the heart of Allston-Brighton.
The closure of the school represents a failure for Boston. Multiple city administrations have failed to appropriately maintain our city’s schools. Jackson/Mann was identified as a facility in significantly poor condition that was insufficiently maintained for decades. In addition to leveraging the funds available from the Massachusetts School Building Authority, Boston city and school leadership must do more to engage with, and demand more of, the many institutions of higher learning in the City, many of whom do not pay their fair share of PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes), and must increase the number of community “Hub” schools, like the Gardner Pilot Academy. City leaders must think creatively about sharing space in a city where land prices are escalating daily.
Enrollment decline in Allston-Brighton is linked, among other factors, to the high cost of rental and condo housing in the neighborhood, and I have spent the first year of my tenure in office as City Councilor for District 9 pushing large developers to increase the number of affordable units in the many new residential projects under development in Allston-Brighton. The reputation of Boston's schools for students ages 3-22, and a predictable and accessible enrollment process, are key to encouraging families from all backgrounds to come to, and stay, in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood.
BPS has committed publicly to constructing a new school on this site, which is centrally located and immediately adjacent to Ringer Park, which is undergoing a needed and community-oriented transformation led by Boston Parks & Recreation. It is absolutely essential that the need of the neighborhood for a community center, and the needs of the co-located Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, be taken into consideration during a community process for the new building(s) on the site .
The Jackson/Mann Community Center, which currently shares space with the Jackson/Mann K8, houses afterschool and teen programs, adult literacy programs, a busy community gym, and is the only BCYF center in Allston-Brighton. It serves as an emergency shelter, cooling station for elders, and a polling location. Recently, the auditorium in the building provided space for 1,000 vaccinations against COVID-19.
The institutional silos that separate the Boston Center for Youth and Families (BCYF), which oversees Boston community centers, from the Boston Public Schools must be broken down, and I call on Mayor Kim Janey and her cabinet to immediately drive both departments toward effective partnership and a common vision for this neighborhood's learning community.
I am committed to working to ensure that the Jackson Mann complex is rebuilt as a state-of-the-art center for education and recreation for the people of Allston-Brighton and Boston. This initiative should be centered on a robust community process and include all stakeholders in Allston-Brighton