Students, staff and neighbors of John W. McCormack Middle School in Dorchester have complained that the school system moved on developing part of McCormack's grounds without asking them about the plan.

The proposal, which was submitted to Boston Public Schools this summer, would replace an open athletic field beside the school with an indoor, fee for use sports facility. Critics aired their complaints Wednesday night at a meeting of the Boston School Committee.

“I think if the Boys and Girls Club and the Martin Richard Foundation are going to spend millions of dollars on building and creating a field house on McCormack property, they should at least ask the McCormack students what they would like on their land,” said Manny Nova, a former McCormack student who is now in high school. “When people don’t ask us what we want and need on our land, it feels disrespectful. I hate to say it, but this reminds me about the great Christopher Columbus, who took over people’s land with no hesitation."

Rob Consalvo, senior advisor and former chief of staff for the Boston Public Schools, said seven public meetings about the future of the field have been held with civic groups in the area and a parent group of the neighboring Paul A. Dever Elementary School.

None were at McCormack because, Consalvo said, the future of the school was unclear amid the possibility of a merger with another school. McCormack Middle School is now set to merge with the Boston Community Leadership Academy and become a seventh- through 12th-grade school.

"Now that we know what that new school structure is, we've said all along we're committed to sitting down with all of those communities and showing them this [proposal]," Consalvo told WGBH News after the meeting.

"We look forward to a long and thoughtful engagement process," he said.

McCormack's field, Consalvo said, was identified as ripe for enhancement through Build BPS, the Walsh administration's 10-year, $1 billion plan to renovate educational facilities in the city.

“Part of Build BPS is to invest, not just in our buildings and infrastructure, but in our fields and our playgrounds and our footprint,” Consalvo said,

Haven Jones, a clinical social worker at the school, objected to the nature of the plan.

“It doesn’t feel like it even makes sense to put a building there in the first place, let alone to take it away from the students,” Jones said. “It feels like taking away a piece of their home that they’ve come to rely on for recess, for outdoor science projects, for a place to be safe after school and before school.”

Amaj Omar told school committee members: “Now that I am a student at Fenway High School, I do miss my old athletic field at the McCormack Middle School. At Fenway High School, we do not have the luxury of getting out of school on to an open athletic field. It is suffocating at times.”

Luis Santana, now a student at Boston Latin School, said the field has been used for school activities besides athletics.

“During my eighth-grade year at the McCormack, Mr. Grymonpre took me and the rest of the astronomy club outside to the field to launch rockets,” Santana said. “It’s an experience I took with me to high school.”

The Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester’s plan would result in a public-private partnership, a new athletic facility and savings for BPS to use elsewhere in the school system, Consalvo said.

He added that BPS has consistently vowed to engage directly with the school community as the review process continues, now that a response to a request for proposals has been received. No decision has been made on the field house plan, he said.

Consalvo applauded the students’ advocacy.

“I can assure the students that were here tonight that we will be engaging with the students of the McCormack community, both in the short term and the long term about what the future of this project looks like,” he said.

Correction: A previous version of this story misidentified Consalvo’s current role at BPS.