This video shows a community meeting hosted by Boston Public Schools regarding the planned expansion of the Eliot K-8 Innovation School and the renovation of the former North Bennet Street School properties. The meeting was held on April 8, 2014 at the Nazzaro Community Center in Boston’s North End. Video timeline index:
- 00:00 Introduction by Carleton Jones, Executive Director, Capital & Facilities Management, Boston Public Schools
- 06:00 Comments by Eliot K-8 Innovation School Principal Traci Walker Griffith
- 19:00 North Bennet Street School property renovation presented by architectural firm
- 33:00 Brian Melia, City of Boston Planning Office – Bidding process and construction schedule
- 36:30 Questions & Answers
Boston Public Schools reached out to the community this week to present an $18 million expansion plan for the Eliot K-8 Innovation School including a renovation of the former North Bennet Street School (the “Upper School”) as well as 585 Commercial Street (the “Lower School”). Combined with the existing property at 16 Charter Street, the new Eliot Campus will consist of three North End / Waterfront properties.
Principal Traci Walker Griffith is expected to oversee all three school campus properties under the Eliot School umbrella. “It’s an exciting time,” said the Walker Griffith, “but we cannot do it without the support of the community and this is the time for all of us to ask questions and get the answers from the city.”
A Master Plan was presented in general terms for all three properties (see the table below), however, this meeting focused primarily on the renovation of the North Bennet Street School at 39 N. Bennet Street. The NBSS buildings will have a finished design this summer with construction starting later in 2014. Construction at the NBSS property will be complete by the start of the 2016-17 school year.
Designers of the North Bennet Street buildings spoke about its complete renovation and how the property has evolved from what was once included a church structure. An adjacent historic house will continue to be separate and is not included in the construction project. All the floors in the building will be leveled to incorporate handicap access, an elevator, egresses and other school codes.
The main entrance to the Eliot Upper School will be where the NBSS gallery was located on Salem Street. The exterior footprint and height of the North Bennet Street buildings is not expected to change, although the addition of elevator and egresses will create new metal siding in some areas. The top of the building also includes metal screening for roof equipment. The NBSS property does not have much open space, but includes a very large interior multi-purpose activity area as well as a cafeteria. A media center will also be included on the first floor with computers and projection equipment. There will be no air conditioning in the NBSS property, although the windows will be able to open. The property at 585 Commercial St. has air conditioning and can accommodate summer school.
Eliot K-8 Campus Master Plan
The existing 16 Charter Street building currently serves students in grades K-4 while 585 Commercial Street has grades 5-8 on the first floor. This summer, 585 Commercial Street will be built out on its second floor and expand to serving grades 4-8 by for school year 2014-15. Once the NBSS renovated building comes online in school year 2016, the property at 585 Commercial Street will close for a one-year construction period. The existing Eliot on Charter Street will also undergo some renovations while occupied.
At the end of the construction period for all the Eliot properties, older students in grades 6-8 will be served at 16 Charter Street, K0/K1-2 will be served at 585 Commercial Street and the North Bennet Street building will serve grades 3-5. There are expected to be 5 classes per grade in the long-term configuration of the school’s North End / Waterfront campus.
Although a total student population number has not been finalized, officials indicated that a long-term goal would be to serve 5 strands (the number of classes at each grade level). There will be four general education classrooms and one special education strand. Currently, the Eliot has between two and three strands depending on the grade level with a fourth K-2 expected to begin in the 2014-15 school year. BPS did not give out numbers at the meeting, but at approximately 20+ students in each classroom, the total number could approach 800-1,000 students across the three Eliot properties. This compares to only 150 students at the Eliot in 2007 (as a K-5) when Traci Walker Griffith arrived and about 500 in the 2014-15 school year.
Boston Public Schools Planning Schedule, subject to future revision