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Parents, leaders to study school assignment process

Brian Feulner for the Boston Globe

Mayor Thomas M. Menino met yesterday with members of a task force that will review Boston’s school assignment process.

Boston Superintendent Carol R. Johnson will appoint nearly two dozen parents, business leaders, academics, and other professionals to an advisory committee today that will make recommendations on changing the way the city assigns students to schools.

The advisory committee will hold separate community meetings on March 10 in Allston, East Boston, Jamaica Plain, and Mattapan as part of a nearly yearlong process of gathering public input and developing its proposals.

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Recommendations are expected to be presented to the School Committee in December. About two-thirds of the advisory committee members will be Asian, black, or Latino.

The goal of the redesign, which is being pushed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, is to reduce the number of schools that students can apply to and thereby curb the distance and cost of busing them.

Members met with Menino yesterday.

“I think it’s a very diverse group,’’ Menino said. “A lot of folks involved in the system and outside the system. It’s a group that wants to be engaged in the next step of the improvement of the Boston public schools.’’

Menino said having students attend schools closer to home will make it easier for their parents to be involved in their school.

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Currently, the city is divided into three sprawling geographic regions, providing students with about two dozen schools from which to choose. A student in South Boston, for instance, can attend a school more than 7 miles away in Hyde Park.

The broad choice - developed more than two decades ago to ensure racial balancing among the cities schools - is contributing to skyrocketing transportation costs that are expected to exceed $100 million by 2014.

JOHN BLANDING/GLOBE STAFF/FILE 2010

Chanting, big signs, and speakers who take too long have been problems at School Committee meetings.

The committee will be chaired by Hardin Coleman, chairman of Boston University School of Education.

The other members to be named are:

Kelly Bates, lawyer, director of a philanthropic foundation and a Boston public schools parent; Kathleen Colby, a schools ambassador and former student parent; Ian Deason, business leader and new parent; Rahn Dorsey, evaluation director, the Barr Foundation; Paul Francisco, business leader and parent; Robert Gittens, vice president of public affairs at Northeastern University and a former parent; Carolyn Kain, chairwoman, Boston Special Education Parent Advisory Council and parent; Ruthzee Louijeune, JD and MBA candidate, Harvard University, and a 2004 graduate of the Boston pulic schools; Brendan McDonough, business and community leader and a parent; John Nucci, vice president for government and community affairs at Suffolk University and a former parent; Imari Paris Jeffries, partner, Boston Rising; Laura Perille, executive director, EdVestors, and a parent; Israel Ruiz, executive vice president and treasurer, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a parent.

Also, Andrea Swain, executive director, Yawkey Club of Roxbury, Boys and Girls Club of Boston; Tammy Tai, program officer, Hyams Foundation, and a parent; Mary Tamer, Boston School Committee member and a parent; Josephine Tavares, a Boston public schools teacher and parent; Miren Uriarte, professor, college of public and community service and senior research associate, UMass Boston, and a former parent; Ahn Vu, a parent; William Walczak, president, Carney Hospital, and a former parent; Vernee Wilkerson, business owner/Roslindale Main Streets and a parent; and Bak Fun Wong, headmaster, Quincy Upper School.

James Vaznis can be reached at jvaznis@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globevaznis.

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