Local Group Sees New School as First Step

April 23, 2013
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Downtown Schools for Boston has welcomed the news of the city’s plans to open a new public elementary school at 585 Commercial St. in September of 2016, but the recently established group of families, residents and supporters views the announcement as merely an important step on a long journey.

“The school helps the Back Bay and the Fenway only indirectly, by adding capacity that may free space in schools nearby,” said Ania Camargo, one of the leaders of Downtown Schools for Boston. “As Councilor Ross said, “This is not the end, but a victory along the way.’”

Despite its walking distance of more than 1 mile from the Back Bay and Fenway neighborhoods, Downtown Schools for Boston acknowledged that the school’s new North End location achieves many important objectives, such providing temporary space for the Eliot K-8 School and allowing the Boston Public Schools to purchase, rather than lease, a space slated to undergo $2 million in renovations.

Also, the city selected the school site after an exhaustive search of many potential locations that balances multiple objectives and constraints, including traffic and building security, among others, according to the group.

“It’s a good size and offers so much outdoor space,” Camargo said of the location. “We would’ve liked to have seen it closer to Beacon Hill, the West End and Downtown Crossing, but those buildings are hard to come by.”

Though the new school will accommodate 505 students, Downtown Schools for Boston maintains there still won’t be sufficient entry spots for children living downtown. The group is now working to develop a K-12 plan for all the downtown neighborhoods and advocating for improvements to existing schools in nearby neighborhoods, including the Blackstone Elementary School and the Tobin K-8 School.

“Although our focus has been on elementary schools, we will support advocacy for improvements for all schools downtown,” Camargo said.

To learn more about Downtown Schools for Boston, visit www. downtownschools.org.

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