Back to school season has brought renewed attention to the lack of classroom and student space at the North End’s highly regarded public Eliot School. For the current school year, the Eliot on Charter St. is using three classrooms at the nearby North Bennet Street School. Still, parents continue to push city officials for a longer-term solution.
In this weekend’s Boston Herald, Jessica Fargan reviews some of the data and parent reaction:
According to Boston Public School statistics from last school year: In the North End, Downtown and West End, just 63 percent, or 26 of 41 kids, got one or more of their choices for pre-kindergarten. In Back Bay/Beacon Hill, 42 percent of students — five of 12 kids — got one of their choices. The average is 77 percent, and in some neighborhoods such as Allston/Brighton, the rate is 96 percent.
The Boston Redevelopment Authority, at Menino’s direction, has spent the last three years scouring the downtown for sites and this summer presented its findings, highlighting about a dozen potential locations. Some top locations include private and publicly owned buildings and lots on North Street, Commercial Street and Cross Street.
North End mom Jennifer McGivern, is quoted in the piece: “What is paramount is the schools in these neighborhoods, the schools that are there need to be expanded, that is your fastest track to influencing the lives of families now,” she said.
Jeremy C. Fox of Boston.com also interviews Boston Public Schools Superintendent, Carol Johnson:
“The Eliot is a great school,” she said. “They’re doing a great job. Families want to go there, but we are out of space.”
The North Bennet Street School, a 125-year-old trade school near the Eliot, hopes to relocate to the city’s vacant printing plant and an adjacent office building on North Street and has offered to either sell its building to the city for expansion of the Eliot School or to make a straight trade of the properties. Many neighborhood parents supported that plan, and in May the North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association issued an open letter to Mayor Thomas M. Menino declaring its support. But any progress on that front appears to be stalled until the city’s Property and Construction Management Department issues a request for proposals on the North Street buildings, which has been delayed for months by legal issues.