State says Boston can't move Dearborn School project - unless it wants to give up $36 million

City Councilor Tito Jackson had some bad news today for Roxbury residents who want to preserve the historic Dearborn school building and move its science-based classes to another location in the neighborhood: State officials told him they would rescind the $36 million grant it awarded Boston for a new school because it's based on a plan calling for tearing down the old building.

Neighbors of the school, many of whom said they only learned of plans to tear it down from the Globe, have proposed alternative sites, including the old B-2 police station. But losing the state money would force the city to double the $36 million it's already budgeted for a state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering and math high school.

Jackson broke the news at a meeting at Roxbury Community College. At the meeting, residents and Dearborn teachers opposed a separate BPS plan to turn over the new $72-million school to a private charter-school group called BPE.

Residents called on the School Committee to delay a Sept. 17 vote on letting BPE run the school as an "in-district" charter school - a deal that was only first mentioned publicly last month.

Residents said that beyond the issue of whether they can trust a group whose board members include executives at banks and mutual-fund companies but no parents is simple fairness, related to the way students are selected for the school - and promises that were initially made to parents and students about who would get priority for seats in the new school:

Under the current system, nearby residents would have a preference for seats in the Dearborn - the same process used at other BPS schools. But under the charter plan, they wouldn't - they would enter an assignment lottery with the same odds as students from across the city.

School officials have said the Dearborn, ranked as a Level 4 school on a 1-5 scale with 5 the worst, is in danger of a state takeover and that handing the school over to BPE would forestall that.

Parents pointed to the Irving Middle School in Roslindale and the Clapp School in Dorchester as examples of schools that were turned around by parents and teachers, and said BPS should give the Dearborn the same chance.

LuAnn Silva, a teacher at the school, said she has students who got accepted into Boston exam schools but turned them down because they were excited about staying with a new Dearborn. Now, "this was ripped away from them," she said. "It's completely unfair."

The City Council's education committee - which Jackson chairs - will hold a hearing next Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Grove Hall community center on the Dearborn issue.

Teresa Rodriguez, director of student life and school climate for BPE, said teachers at a BPE-run school would all be members of the Boston Teachers Union. She said she wants to work with current teachers but could not guarantee they would all be offered jobs at the new Dearborn.

She downplayed the influence of corporations on the school - while it's true Bank of America has an executive on the BPE board, it contributes only a small amount of money to the group, she said. She added she would look to add a parent representative to the board BPE would set up to oversee the Dearborn directly.

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Comments

Dearborn

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Ok, so moving the Dearborn may not work, BUT
1) the old frontage can still be kept maintaining the character of the school
2) the city can still keep the school and not give it to a charter
3) people of good will can stand united and tell that Carpetbagger Commr Mitchell Chester to shit in his hat

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dearborn

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inference not fact
CC Jackson said it was likely to be dropped off the MSBA list , didn't say it was a certainty and didn't explain who he spoke with- board member? chairman? receptionist? Its a reimbursement process- the city fronts all the costs and then gets paid back.

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Hmm ...

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Yes, there are certainly questions and we should wait until somebody gets a piece of paper signed by somebody at the state, but he was sure talking last night like it was a certainty.

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Preserve Dearborn building, build new school on another site

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I don't know where Tito Jackson got his information, but I spoke directly to the Executive Director of the MSBA board, as well as to one of the board members, and it is not true that we'd automatically lose the state funding for requesting a change of site. It requires a justification from the mayor laying out the reasons for the change. Note that the BPS's initial 2009 Statement of Interest stated flatly that "The building has a substantial historical significance in the community; therefore closing it is not a viable option. Instead, the district prefers to invest in the community by fulfilling the Boston Mayor's commitment to rehabilitate the school." Who made the decision to tear it down? When? And why? It has certainly come as a surprise to the community, which witnessed and participated in a long design process for a "major rehabilitation and general renovation to be brought up to date for current educational needs." Whenever it was that the demolition decision was made, no new feasibility study was done to evaluate alternative sites. The BPS has not done its due diligence, and a site feasibility study should be done. Since the BPS itself declared that this historic building was not even to be closed, much less demolished, such a study would immediately exclude the option of demolition, and go on to evaluate other sites.

Fortunately, other City properties are available that would better meet state siting criteria, e.g., the site of the Dudley Square police station now being demolished. A public process will soon be initiated to create a program and Request for Proposal for redevelopment of that site, which is three times the size of the current Dearborn School site,. That development plan could easily include the school as part of a bigger program.

Do you trust these guys?

"She downplayed the influence of corporations on the school - while it's true Bank of America has an executive on the BPE board, it contributes only a small amount of money to the group, she said. She added she would look to add a parent representative to the board BPE would set up to oversee the Dearborn directly."

If a BoA guy is on the board, he is on the board. It doesn't matter how much money BoA contributes - he is on the board.

A parent representative on a subordinate board does not have the same clout as the BoA guy on the actual board and can be ignored anytime the actual board wishes.

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Another report on the meeting

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Parent Imperfect was there as well.

The beat goes on…opposition to the Dearborn project grows, but the BPS continues with its, “the dogs may bark, but the caravan rolls along” attitude. In the process, they are missing a huge opportunity and really angering important constituencies in Roxbury, the neighborhood that the BPS is about to move into. This will come back to bite them.

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