Back On His Feet, Menino Defends School Closures

By Adam Reilly

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Dec. 17, 2010

BOSTON — Parents are reeling from the Boston Public School Committee's controversial vote Wednesday night that will close nine schools and merge several others. Mayor Thomas M. Menino, now back on his feet after two recent hospital stays, is defending the move.

"The decision that was made by the school committee was the right decision," Menino said. He said the plan cuts unecessary transportation, overhead and maintainance costs in a district that no longer needs as many schools as it has today.

"Families aren't having four or five kids anymore," Menino said, "but also the issue of charter schools. Parochial schools have made a comeback in the city."

Still, the mayor said he knows knows how tough the adjustment will be for students and families at the affected schools.

"To say to a child, we’re going going to change you to another school – that is very difficult," Menino said. "I know a lot of those parents, I know a lot of those principals, I know a lot of those kids. And it hurts me to say to a parent, I have to do it."

He defended himself against allegations that he's "selling out" to charter school by bringing more of the autonomous, union-free schools into the city as the district closes other schools. "I'm not selling out to anyone," Menino said. "All this nonsense about fighting over charter -- let's figure out how we can have a system that works for all of them."

Menino's vocal support of the BPS closures over the past week has been one of his first high-profile actions after spending several weeks -- and two hospital visits -- struggling with a skin infection he devloped during a trip to Florence, Italy.

The mayor said his condition is improving. "I got a recumbent bike I ride at home now in the mornings and the evenings," Menino said. "I don’t do as long as I used to – I’m doing 20, 25 minutes now, and it’s helping, but you just gotta get back to it. We’ll get there," Menino said.

Asked about the recent spike in Boston’s murder rate, the mayor said there’s no simple solution – and that drugs, guns and a “disregard for human life” are driving the killing.



MAP: SCHOOLS SLATED FOR CLOSURE

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