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Menino Pushes For School Closings, Mergers Plan

BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston school committee will vote on a major reform proposal Wednesday that would close or merge a number of city schools.

WBZ Radio’s Karen Twomey reports

Mayor Tom Menino appealed for support from the business community in a speech to the Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning.

“There are 5,600 empty seats in our school district. These empty seats are costing taxpayers over $20 million a year. In order to expand the programs that drive student achievement, we need to close nine school buildings and merge eight schools into four,” Menino said.

WBZ-TV’s Sera Congi reports

Boston Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson called it a “very painful process.”

The proposal to close and merge schools is estimated to save $10 million which will help close a $63 million budget gap in the school district.

“If we take the money we’re spending now on empty seats, and put those dollars right into the classroom, for teachers and for students.”  Johnson said.

During his speech, Menino also proposed changes to the teachers’ union contract – like merit pay and longer school days.  The city and the union have been negotiating since the spring.

Richard Stutman, President of the Boston Teachers’ Union says the mayor’s ideas would not save the city any money.  And the union does not support the issue of merit pay.

“We don’t like the concept and we’ve asked the school department for any research or data they have that supports that this is a good educational idea.  And frankly we are still waiting.”

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