O’Neill to Be Re-appointed to School Bd.

As the Boston School Deartment (BPS) moves forward with its overhaul of the student assignment process, parents in Charlestown can rest easy knowing the schools and students here will be well represented on the Boston School Committee.

Mayor Thomas Menino announced he has re-appointed Charlestown resident Michael O’Neill to the Boston School Committee for a second, four-year term. O’Neill will be sworn in during a 4 p.m. ceremony on Friday, January 4.

“The School Committee plays a key role in the partnership between the School Department and the community, and will face a complex and exciting year as they take on student assignment and strategic planning,”  said Menino. “I was most impressed by the quality of candidates this year and thank the teachers, parents and community members who helped nominate our applicants and facilitate the process.

O’Neill, 52, holds a Masters in Entrepreneurial Studies from Babson College and is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Distribution at SBLI of Massachusetts. Currently a Charlestown resident, O’Neill grew up in West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and Hyde Park, and is a graduate of the Boston Public Schools. He is the Board Chair of the Boston Private Industry Council’s Youth Council and an active member of the Boston PIC’s Workforce Development Committee. O’Neill has served as the Vice Chair of the Boston School Committee since January, 2012. He will serve a four-year term that will expire on January 2, 2017

“Michael O’Neill has been a valued member of the Boston School Committee, providing insight and expertise in the areas of financial strategies and youth development,” Menino said. “He has served with professionalism and integrity and I am honored to re-appoint him.”

The Boston School Committee is a seven-member board that governs and sets policy for the Boston Public Schools. Any Boston resident is eligible to apply for a position. A diverse citizens nominating panel accepted nominations this fall before recommending candidates to Mayor Menino in early December.

This year, O’Neill and the other school committee members will weigh BPS’s proposals to overhaul the city’s student assignment process.

Under the new school choice plan, BPS has come up with several scenarios to make the commute to school for Charlestown students and parents easier.

Right now there are two options on the table.

The first is a ‘no zone’ model. In this model BPS would assign Charlestown students directly to the school closest to them, with adjustments for capacity and programmatic options. In this model, families would not make school choices and students would receive their assignment based on their address and specific programmatic needs. If the capacity at the closest school is full, then the student would be assigned to the second closest school.

The second option would use a school choice model breaking up the city into 23, 11, 9 or 6 zones. In each of these scenarios Charlestown parents would choose between the Warren/Prescott, Harvard/Kent or the Elliot School in the North End.

Only in the 9 or 6 zone option would Charlestown parents have the option to send their children to schools in East Boston.

Under the zone plan students living in a zone would apply to any school in their Home Zone or within their walk zones, even if that school is across a boundary. Students could also apply to citywide options.

Inside every zone is a pathway. Elementary school students would feed into middle school and K-8 Schools. If a student moves into the district after 5 grade, they would be eligible to apply to any middle school or K-8 within their middle school zone boundary. All high schools would remain citywide just as today.

Sibling preference and walk-zone preference would still apply. If a school is across a boundary line from a students’ home but within the walk zone, that family could still apply to the school.

The proposals are based on feedback and input from the External Advisory Committee, BPS will update the proposals in after Charlestown’s community meeting in October. Then, the EAC will make a recommendation to the Superintendent, who will bring a proposal to the Boston School Committee in January. The School Committee will then hold additional public hearings before voting on a new plan this winter.

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