Boston School Superintendent Carol R. Johnson is expected to recommend tonight the closing or merging of more than a dozen schools, a proposal that goes further than one she withdrew earlier this fall amid criticism from parents, students, and budget watchdogs.
The new proposal retains most of the elements of her previous plan, but calls for closing additional schools and creating new programs.
If approved by the School Committee, the redesign would reduce by about one-quarter the 5,600 empty seats now scattered in schools across the city.
The goal is to achieve greater cost savings as the district confronts a potential $63 million shortfall for the next school year, while it is also looking for money to improve academic quality, Johnson said in an interview yesterday afternoon.
The school closings and mergers, Johnson said, are just one aspect of a budgetary response plan that aims to save tens of millions of dollars by increasing class sizes and reducing bus services for some students, among other initiatives.
Johnson said it was with reluctance that she recommends many of the school closings and mergers.
“I hate school closings,’’ Johnson said, as she gave a broad overview of her proposal. “But I think in order to make the kinds of investments we need to make in our school communities for all students across the district, we have to make some tough decisions.
“As I said before, we can’t keep buildings open for the sake of keeping buildings open,’’ Johnson said. “We know [closing schools] is very upsetting for families, but we are trying to put in a quality set of programs that can last in the long term and can help us be competitive.’’
But scores of parents, students, and staff who protested Johnson’s initial recommendations to close their schools will probably be upset with the new plan. Johnson intends to stick with all but one of five previous school closing recommendations, although she did not say which school would be given a reprieve.
Johnson also declined to name the additional schools involved in the plan. Parents should receive notices today.
The five schools identified under the previous proposal were the Emerson Elementary School in Roxbury, the East Zone Learning Center and the Roger Clapp Elementary School in Dorchester, and the Social Justice Academy and the Engineering School in Hyde Park.