Boston Public Schools

Boston Public Schools (BPS) is a school district serving the city of Boston, Massachusetts, United States.

Boston Public Schools
Boston Public Schools logo.svg
2300 Washington Street,
Roxbury, Boston, MA 02119

United States
District information
SuperintendentBrenda Cassellius [1]
Schools120 (2014-2015)[2]
Budget$1,332,439,836 total
$20,247 per pupil
Students and staff
Students54,312 (2014-2015)[2]
Teachers4,228.9 (2014-2015)[4]
Staff4,352 (2009-2010)[5]
Student–teacher ratio12.8 to 1 (2014-2015)[4]
Other information
SAT scores
496 verbal
513 math
1009 total (2017-2018)[6]
WebsiteBoston Public Schools


Dr. Carol R. Johnson (back row, far left), former Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, meets students and their teacher Mrs. McClain and principal at the Bates Elementary School in Roslindale.

The district is led by a Superintendent, hired by the Boston School Committee, a seven-member school board appointed by the mayor after approval by a nominating committee of specified stakeholders.[7] The School Committee sets policy for the district and approves the district's annual operating budget. This governing body replaced a 13-member elected committee after a public referendum vote in 1991.[8] The superintendent serves as a member of the mayor's cabinet.

From October 1995 through June 2006, Dr. Thomas W. Payzant served as superintendent. A former undersecretary in the US Department of Education, Payzant was the first superintendent selected by the appointed School Committee. Upon Dr. Payzant's retirement, Chief Operating Officer Michael G. Contompasis, former headmaster of Boston Latin School, became Interim Superintendent, and was appointed superintendent in October 2006. Dr. Manuel J. Rivera, superintendent of the Rochester City School District, had agreed to become the next superintendent of the BPS, but instead accepted a post as deputy secretary for public education for New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. In June 2007, the Boston School Committee voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Carol R. Johnson as the next superintendent, beginning in August 2007. Dr. Johnson had served as superintendent of the Memphis City Schools since 2003. Dr. Johnson's tenure ended in summer 2013, and John McDonough served as interim superintendent until July 1, 2015.[9] The superintendent was Dr. Tommy Chang until his resignation. Laura Perille served as interim superintendent until July 2019 when Brenda Cassellius began her tenure.

The mayor and Boston City Council have control over the overall appropriation for the Boston Public Schools, but the School Committee has control over how funding is allocated internally, and has control over policy.[10]

List of superintendentsEdit

  • Nathan Bishop (1851–1856)
  • John Dudley Philbrick (1856–1878)
  • Samuel Eliot (1878–1880)
  • Edwin P. Seaver (1880–1904)
  • George H. Conley (1904–1906)
  • Stratton D. Brooks (1906–1912)
  • Maurice P. White (1912–1912) Acting
  • Dr. Franklin B. Dyer (1912–1918)
  • Frank V. Thompson (1918–1921)
  • Jeremiah E. Burke (1921–1931)
  • Patrick T. Campbell (1931–1937)
  • Arthur L. Gould (1937–1948)
  • Dr. Dennis C. Haley (1948–1960)
  • Dr. Frederick Gillis (1960–1963)
  • Dr. William Ohrenberger (1963–1972)
  • William J. Leary (1972–1975)
  • Marion Fahey (1975–1978)
  • Robert Coldwell Wood (1978–1980)
  • Paul Kennedy (1980–1981) Acting'
  • Robert R. Spillane (1981–1985)[11]
  • Dr. Laval S. Wilson (1985–1991)
  • Lois Harrison-Jones (1991–1995)
  • Dr. Thomas W. Payzant (1995–2006)
  • Michael G. Contompasis (2006–2007) Interim
  • Dr. Carol R. Johnson (2007–2012)
  • John McDonough (2012–2015) Interim
  • Dr. Tommy Chang (2015–2018)
  • Laura Perille (2018–2019) Interim
  • Dr. Brenda Cassellius (2019–present)


BPS is the oldest public school system in America, founded in 1647.[12] It is also the home of the nation's first public school, Boston Latin School, founded in 1635.[12] The Mather School opened in 1639 as the nation's first public elementary school,[13] and English High School, the second public high school in the country, opened in 1821.[12] In 1965 The state enacted the Racial Imbalance Law, requiring school districts to design and implement plans to effect racial balancing in schools that were more than 50% "non-white". After years of consistent failure by the Boston School Committee to comply with the law, the U.S District Court ruled in 1974 that the schools were unconstitutionally segregated, and implemented as a remedy the busing of many students from their neighborhood schools to other schools across the city.[12]


The segregated state of Boston’s neighborhoods, and school districts, that prompted bussing were the direct result of redlining’s unique effects on the city. In most other American cities, redlining had prompted large amounts of white flight to the suburbs. However, unlike those cities, at the time Boston’s white population was still composed heavily of immigrant and 1st generation families, the vast majority of which either lacked the means or desire to leave the city. As a result, redlining in Boston saw the creation of neighborhoods that were for the most part equally economically disadvantaged but racially imbalanced.

Subsequently, by the time of forced bussing came to be in 1974 the majority of the white population were lower-middle and lower-class second-generation blue-collar nuclear families who were heavily reliant on public amenities and infrastructure. Neighborhood schools were the heart and soul of this infrastructure and cornerstone of the family-centered way of life for white families in Boston. The schools acted as the main source of neighborhood pride and created a rich sense of shared identity that was optimized by the blue-collar nuclear family way of life and struggle to success culture that had come to characterize Boston’s immigrant descendent heavy white neighborhoods at the time.

Equally economically disadvantaged, the African American communities were heavily reliant on Boston’s public amenities and infrastructure as well. However, due to the racial bias and corrupt oversight the infrastructure of Boston’s African American neighborhoods paled in comparison to that offered in primarily white communities.[14] This inequality was nowhere more appalling or evident than in the Neighborhood schools. In many cases, the understaffed and poorly funded schools were forced to teach with small quantities of outdated reading material and textbooks, as well as carefully rationed school supplies such as pencils, collecting them at the end of the day to ensure they would have enough. This lack of funding and support for the African American neighborhood schools was a result of the lack of proper and equal allocation of funding between white and black school districts within the Boston public school system. This primarily resulted from the racially prejudice all-white Boston public schools committee that wouldn’t end up integrating until 1977 with the election of John D. O’Bryant[15] almost three full years after forced bussing had begun.

As a direct result of this infrastructure imbalance when integration was instituted and forced bussing began the two communities reacted almost conversely.[16] The African American communities although somewhat upset about losing the convenience of the local neighborhood schools welcomed the change with open arms hoping that it would force the school committee to fund all the schools with greater equality than in the past and that it would allow their children to gain a better education in the meantime.[17] Unfortunately, almost all of the white communities saw bussing as an inconvenience and a threat to what little privilege they still had as lower-class whites rather than seeing it as an opportunity for greater equality. As a result, when school began, on September 12th 1974, many white families refused to send their kids to school and whole neighborhoods engaged in racially charged riots during which many enacted acts of violence such as throwing rocks, flipping police cars, and even attacking African Americans who happened to be driving or passing by at the time.[18] The violence and rioting continued until October of the same year when the National Guard was brought in to quell the violence.

In September 2006 the district won the Broad Prize for Urban Education. The national prize, sponsored by philanthropist Eli Broad, includes $500,000 in college scholarships to graduates from the winning district. In most years since the prize program began in 2002, Boston has been a finalist, earning $125,000 in scholarships each year.



The one hundred largest school districts in the nation (by enrollment) spend an average of $14,000 per pupil every year. However, census data from 2017 shows that the BPS easily placed second, by spending $22,292. Only the New York City Department of Education exceeded this figure.[19]

Student assignment policyEdit

Boston Public Schools (BPS) operates schools throughout the city of Boston. BPS assigns students based on preferences of the applicants and priorities of students in various zones.[20]

Since 1989, the city has broken the district into three zones for elementary- and middle-school students. High schoolers can choose any school throughout the city, since they can ride public transportation.[21] Due to the geography of East Boston, for all grade levels each child in East Boston is guaranteed a seat at a school in East Boston.[20]

In 2013, the Boston School Committee voted to begin a new school choice system for the 2014-15 school year and beyond. The new plan, called "Home-Based," measures schools through a combination of MCAS scores and growth, which are grouped in four tiers. Every family has at least two schools within the top tier, four in the top half of performance, and six in the top 75%. Families also are able to list any school within one mile of their home. The plan was first approved by an External Advisory Committee made up of parents, academic experts and community leaders. It was developed by an academic team from Harvard and MIT, which volunteered for the project after hearing about the community process in 2012. The District launched a website,[22] to help the community follow the process and contribute.


In 2017 the district's schools switched from the Mercator map projection (which accurately shows directions, but inflates areas in high latitudes) to the Gall-Peters map projection (which distorts directions, but is one of several equal-area projections).[23]


On February 26, 2021, Boston Public Schools became another institution under fire for racially discriminating against Whites and Asians for their academic performances. The district was disturbed that the programs that made up the advanced classes were 70% White and Asian, while 80% of all Boston public schools were Hispanic and Black. Superintendent Brenda Cassellius decided these inequities were enough to postpone the high performing program in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades for 1 year. The superintendent also stated that "There's been a lot of inequities that have been brought to the light in the pandemic that we have to address. There's a lot of work we have to do in the district to be antiracist and have policies where all of our students have a fair shot at an equitable and excellent education."[24][25]


Early Childhood EducationEdit

These schools offer programs starting at either age 3 (K0) or age 4 (K1) and ending in either the first or third grade.

  • Baldwin Early Learning Center (Pilot)
  • East Boston Early Education Center
  • Ellison/Parks Early Education School
  • Haynes Early Education Center
  • West Zone Early Learning Center

Elementary SchoolsEdit

  • Adams Elementary School
  • Bates Elementary School
  • Beethoven Elementary School
  • Blackstone Elementary School
  • Bradley Elementary School
  • Channing Elementary School
  • Condon Elementary School
  • Chittick Elementary School
  • Conley Elementary School
  • Dever Elementary School
  • Dudley Street Neighborhood School (Charter)
  • Elihu Greenwood Leadership Academy (Defunct, old building now used by Another Course to College)
  • Ellis Elementary School
  • Everett Elementary School
  • Grew Elementary School
  • Guild Elementary School
  • Hale Elementary School
  • Haley Elementary School
  • Harvard/Kent Elementary School
  • Henderson Elementary lower school
  • Henderson Elementary Upper school
  • Hennigan Elementary School
  • Holland Elementary School
  • Holmes Elementary School
  • Kennedy, J. F. Elementary School
  • Kennedy, P. J. Elementary School
  • Kenny Elementary School
  • Lyon High School
  • Manning Elementary School
  • Marshall Elementary School
  • Mason Elementary School
  • Mather Elementary School
  • Mattahunt Elementary School
  • McKinley Elementary School
  • Mendell Elementary School
  • Mozart Elementary School
  • O'Donnell Elementary School
  • Otis Elementary School
  • Perkins Elementary School
  • Philbrick Elementary School
  • Quincy Elementary School
  • Roger Clap Innovation School
  • Russell Elementary School
  • Sumner Elementary School
  • Taylor Elementary School
  • Tynan Elementary School
  • Winship Elementary School
  • Winthrop Elementary School

K-8 SchoolsEdit

  • Boston Teachers Union School K-8 (Pilot)
  • Curley K-8 School
  • Donald McKay K-8 school
  • Edison K-8 School
  • Eliot K-8 School
  • Greenwood (Sarah) K-8 School
  • Haley K-8 School (Pilot)
  • Hernández K-8 School
  • Higginson/Lewis K-8 School
  • Hurley K-8 School
  • Jackson/Mann K-8 School
  • Kilmer K-8 School
  • King K-8 School
  • Lee K-8 School
  • Lyndon K-8 School (Pilot)
  • Lyon K–8 School
  • Mario Umana Academy
  • McKay K-8 School
  • Mildred Avenue K-8 School
  • Mission Hill School (Pilot)
  • Murphy K-8 School
  • Orchard Gardens K-8 School (Pilot)
  • Perry K-8 School
  • Roosevelt K-8 School
  • Tobin K-8 School
  • Trotter K-8 School
  • Warren/Prescott K-8 School
  • Young Achievers Science and Math K-8 (Pilot)

Middle SchoolsEdit

6-12 SchoolsEdit

  • Dearborn STEM Academy
  • Henderson Upper School
  • Josiah Quincy Upper School (Pilot)
  • TechBoston Academy

High SchoolsEdit

K-12 SchoolsEdit

Exam SchoolsEdit

The following schools serve students in grades 7–12 and admit students based on their grades and the Independent School Entrance Examination.

Former Boston Public SchoolsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Office of the Superintendent / Office of the Superintendent".
  2. ^ a b "Enrollment Data (2017-18) - Boston (00350000)".
  3. ^ "Massachusetts Department Of Elementary And Secondary Education - Per Pupil Expenditures Statewide Report". 2019-02-07. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  4. ^ a b "Teacher Data (2013-14) - Boston (00350000)".
  5. ^ "Boston Public Schools at a Glance 2009–2010" (PDF). Boston Public Schools. February 25, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 10, 2010. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  6. ^ "Massachusetts Department Of Elementary And Secondary Education - 2017-18 SAT Performance Report - All Students Statewide Report". 2018-09-20. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  7. ^ School Committee Members Nomination and Appointment Procedure, BPS Website Archived December 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Founding Legislation: Chapter 108, BPS Website Archived July 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Archived August 7, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ External Actors and the Boston Public Schools—The Courts, the Business Community, and the Mayor Archived October 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  11. ^ "Robert R. Spillane, Boston Public Schools superintendent in early 1980s, dies at 80 - The Boston Globe".
  12. ^ a b c About Boston Public Schools Archived October 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine United Nations Associate of the United States of America (UNA-USA)
  13. ^ "Notable Events in Massachusetts History".
  14. ^ “Can We Talk? Learning from Boston's Busing/Desegregation Crisis.” YouTube, Mercer Media Relations, 14 Sept. 2012,
  15. ^ “The Boston Busing Crisis Story (1974 - 1975).” YouTube, Unstripped Voice, 14 Dec. 2016,
  16. ^ “Can We Talk? Learning from Boston's Busing/Desegregation Crisis.” YouTube, Mercer Media Relations, 14 Sept. 2012,
  17. ^ “Can We Talk? Learning from Boston's Busing/Desegregation Crisis.” YouTube, Mercer Media Relations, 14 Sept. 2012,
  18. ^ “The Boston Busing Crisis Story (1974 - 1975).” YouTube, Unstripped Voice, 14 Dec. 2016,
  19. ^ "Top 10 Largest School Districts by Enrollment and Per Pupil Current Spending". United States Census Bureau. 21 May 2019.
  20. ^ a b "Student Assignment Policy Archived June 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine." Boston Public Schools. Retrieved on April 15, 2009.
  21. ^ WBUR,
  22. ^ Archived 2013-08-17 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Boston public schools map switch aims to amend 500 years of distortion". The Guardian. 2017-03-19. Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  24. ^ "Citing Racial Inequities, Boston Public Schools Suspend New Advanced Learning Classes". News. 2021-02-26. Retrieved 2021-02-27.
  25. ^ Editor •February 27, Dave Huber-Associate; 2021 (2021-02-27). "Boston Public Schools suspends advanced academic program due to racial 'equity' concerns". The College Fix. Retrieved 2021-02-27.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)

External linksEdit