History of Fort Hill, Part 2 (2008). Mural by: Loray McDuffie, Taylor Saintable, Edwin Perez-Clancy, Christine O'Connell, Julia Andreasson, Jorge Benitez, Divah Payne, Lucy Saintcyr, Laua Dedonato, Gregg Bernstein.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bridge Boston Charter School—An Introduction and an Invitation

This undated document is the second of a match pair of Q&As.  The first of the set appears in our immediately preceding post.




How many students will attend the school?

If chartered, Bridge Boston will enroll 72 young children in grades K1 and K in September of 2011. Each year we expand by a grade level, eventually reaching a total enrollment of 335 students in K1 through Grade 8.

Where will school buses drop students off?

We feel that the best place for drop off and pick up is on Highland Street. For students with physical disabilities, special buses will transport them to the front of the building.

Where will students play outside?

We intend to have children play in the existing open area on the property near Highland Street, between Cedar Street and Fort Avenue. As Bridge grows larger, we hope to be able to able to use playgrounds/parks in the neighborhood for appropriate play at permissible times.

What will the hours of operation be?

The school day would begin at 7:30 am for breakfast and end at 3:30 pm. Bridge will offer extended day (after-school) programming that would conclude no later than 6 pm.

Where will teachers and staff park?

Faculty and staff will utilize the parking spaces (20) currently on the property.  Bridge will seek additional rental parking in close proximity to the property as well. We anticipate that, at least for the first several years,  A number of teachers will live on the property and that this will reduce traffic flow. Bridge Boston does not intend to park in the neighborhood street spaces.
How many cars do you expect?

In the first few years, we do not envision that the cars on the property will exceed the current number of parking spaces (20). We will seek community input and approval to identify nearby lots that Bridge Boston can utilize in the coming years.

How will you continue to work with the community?

Bridge Boston enthusiastically intends to work with the community in many ways. Initially, we seek to meet with abutters, neighborhood residents, and neighborhood associations to profile and discuss our school programming and logistics in depth. We will reach out to the community to create awareness of our school and to generate excitement and applications to our admissions lottery. This lottery, if Bridge Boston is chartered, will take place on March 8, 2011. We also want Bridge Boston to be an enhancement to and a resource for the community and for Bridge Boston to be enhanced by being a part of this community. Bridge will be very receptive to having neighborhood groups use the school, including the neighborhood associations.

Have you made an offer on the Highland Street property?

Yes, Bridge Boston has made an offer on the property and it has been accepted. The acquisition is contingent on Bridge being granted a charter from the Commonwealth.

Are you definitely moving to that location?

Bridge Boston hopes to make the location its permanent home. In addition to the contingency of being granted a charter, Bridge has standard contingencies that must be met, including an environmental review and financing commitment. We also need to be granted zoning approval by the City of Boston to operate Bridge Boston on the property and be granted certificates of occupancy.

Will there be construction?

Yes, but we do not anticipate any major construction if we are chartered, in order to be ready for a September 2011 opening. In the longer term, Bridge seeks to make the overall retrofit of the buildings, from a convent to a school, as minimally disruptive as possible to the community and the school.

What needs to happen to make that work?

We are making plans for environmental review and financing efforts. The most critical effort is to genuinely and thoroughly reach out to the community and to earn their support. We know what we need to do in order to obtain zoning approval and to open in September and that a key determinant to that goal is creating a positive and trusting relationship with our neighbors and the community.
What is Bridge Boston Charter School?

We are a proposed public charter school. We will learn on February 28, 2011 whether we are chartered to open in September 2011, initially with 72 students in K1 and K, eventually growing to 335 students in K1-Grade 8.

What will Bridge Boston be like, if chartered?

Bridge Boston Charter School students will thrive in a challenging, joyful, inclusive K1-8 public school community that values close partnerships with families and a focus on the whole child.  Our students will develop the skills necessary to excel academically in rigorous high school, reach their individual potentials, and view themselves as creators of their own futures.  Through full-service programming, Bridge Boston Charter School will work to remove the health and social obstacles that hinder student learning.   We will provide expanded learning time and after-school extended day programs; a curriculum which includes art, music, and physical education; instruction to meet each student's individual needs; small classes averaging 18 children; and an intern program including college graduates working under the direction of highly experienced teachers to allow smaller classes and more individual attention.  Our founding group has strong community ties and proven experience with excellent schools, including Epiphany School in Dorchester.

Why do we want to have our schoolhouse at 17 Highland Park?

We love this site and this neighborhood. We have founding board members who live on Elmore Street in Roxbury, have taught at Roxbury Community College, and have worked at nearby schools. These beautiful and gracious buildings have a legacy of service to Boston residents, which we seek to maintain, including the original home of William Lloyd Garrison, a leader of the abolition movement in the mid-1800s and the later legacy as a home for African American senior citizens and most recently a home for the Sisters of the Society of St. Margaret. 

What will happen to the Garrison House?
Bridge Boston intends to carefully maintain the Garrison House and use it for faculty housing and offices.

How would our school utilize the buildings and protect the neighborhoods character?

Bridge Boston would begin with 72 students, and would then expand by a grade each year. We do not envision needing to change the exterior of the buildings in any substantial way. Any and all improvements to the property will be aesthetically tasteful and appropriate. We will only seek to ensure the safety and smooth operation of the school. We will utilize the buildings for school programming and some housing for faculty/administrators.

How can you get more information about the school?

Please refer to our website, www.bridgebostoncharterschool.org, or contact Bridge  Boston Board members Peter Keating at petekeats@aol.com or Makeeba McCreary at  makeeba.mccreary@gmail.com 

Could your child attend Bridge Boston?

We would love to serve your child and your family.  If we are chartered, we will hold a public lottery on March 8, 2011. We will only be enrolling students who will enter K1 and K next September (students who will be 4 and 5). The school will enroll a K1 class every year as it grows to its full capacity of 335 students in grades K1-8.  Please go to our website or contact our Acting Executive Director to fill out an ‘Intent to Enroll’ form to enter your child in our lottery.  Our school is free, supervised by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and is open to all students.  Free buses will be provided by the Boston Public Schools.

How can you get more information about the plans for the site?

We hope to attend the Fort Hill Civic Association meetings at the Society of St. Margaret Convent to talk about our plans and would be honored to attend future meetings of additional community organizations to provide updates.  We enthusiastically look forward to meeting you and working together to maintain your beautiful neighborhood and to serve Boston students and their families.

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