Letter to the Editor

Harvard-Kent Elementary Students cannot wait for a sixth grade

Expanding the Harvard-Kent to sixth-grade is the perfect pilot for BuildBPS, which proposes grade reconfigurations to K-6 and K-8s.  It costs the district no money from the $1 billion BuildBPS allocation since we have space and require no new build. It will have students stay in a top 23 BPS school and it will keep our students in the community for another year. The current fifth grade class of 92 students cannot wait. These children have nowhere to go next year beside a school (Edwards Middle) that, according to BPS, is currently being transitioned to close. Expanding to sixth grade is an equity no brainer as 89-percent of our students are high needs per the state with 77percent kids of color, 44percent English Language Learners, 22percent students with disabilities and 70percent kids that are economically disadvantaged. Historically, we have the highest number of kids who attend from public housing across all BPS schools. Yet, Harvard-Kent remains a Tier 1 school and one of 23 BPS schools that met and exceeded targets where 65% of our students live in Charlestown.

Last week, over 100 parents and community members called our elected officials as an amazing show of support to expand the Harvard Kent Elementary School. We reached out directly to the Mayor on public radio on Friday afternoon. Mayor Walsh directly complimented principal Jason Gallagher as one of the most extraordinary leaders in the state on public radio and remarked on how special the Harvard Kent is [open the Boston Public Radio 11.30.18 to the Ask the Mayor podcast and skip to 1:34 of the 2.5 hour podcast to listen in!].

The district offered to engage us in the winter and spring of the New Year, but BPS’s student enrollment and budget decisions for fall 2019 are made by December 2018. Meeting in the New Year will be too late for our kids to have a 6th grade. Our fourth-grade families will be forced to leave the school and district without the certainty of a sixth-grade. Principal Jason Gallagher, BPS and all of our all of our Harvard-Kent community partners are doing amazing work at this school. We need this sixth grade to expand opportunity for 92 kids in a high needs community to stay in BPS and excel in the district.

Our kids cannot wait.

Harvard Kent Parent Association

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