Council takes first step towards building a new Boston Arts Academy

New Boston Arts Academy

Architect's rendering of new BAA.

The Boston City Council today unanimously backed a plan to tear down the current Boston Arts Academy on Ipswich Street in the Fenway and replace it with a $124.8-million school that will feature actual practice space for the school's music and dance students and where teachers will no longer have to use restrooms as storage spaces.

The new building will also let the school expand enrollment from 440 to 500 students.

Because the proposal could require borrowing, the council has to take a second vote on the proposal at a later date.

Councilor Mark Ciommo (Allston/Brighton) said the city will seek reimbursement from the state for the project - which could cover up to 65% of the cost. Councilor Frank Baker (Dorchester) praised the Walsh administration, noting that under the Menino administration, the city never sought reimbursement from the state for such projects.

Councilor Josh Zakim, who represents the Fenway, said the school, which requires prospective students to audtion, has "always had great teachers, it's alway's had great student, it's world class," despite being located in a decaying former postal-service warehouse.

In recent years, city officials have repeatedly tried and failed to find a new location for the school.

New school presentation and renderings (4.2M PDF).
More details on what's wrong with the building.

Neighborhoods: 

Comments

How about take that money

By on

And build a trade school. You know where kids can actually learn a skill that will pay the bills.

up
Voting is closed. 48

How about no?

By on

One of the last high schools the city built was Madison Park. Rather than replicating it, BPS should figure out how to make it actually work for the kids. That's different from BAA, which doesn't even have an adequate building.

up
Voting is closed. 72

One of the "trades" they

By on

One of the "trades" they teach at vocational school is graphic design and photography. So a school centered on arts where photography and other art trades is taught is really just an arts trade school. I am lucky to have an actual skill as a graphic designer. Businesses are realizing they need to have good design to be successful and these are great skills for our kids to be learning for the future! Arts tend to get last dibs on funding and physical resources. Psyched for these BAA students!!

up
Voting is closed. 40

So because BPS' last (and

By on

So because BPS' last (and ONLY) vocational school is a disaster, there isn't a desperate need for more vocational education opportunities? Or MP's struggles somehow suggest arts should be prioritized over trade?

Trying to understand you logic here. Yes, BAA is in a shit building, but the city also needs trade workers (more STEM, too, for that matter). These things are not mutually exclusive.

When the next recession comes, we will still need mechanics, probably not so much the dancers. Just sayin...

up
Voting is closed. 34

For an in-district charter

By on

For an in-district charter school, and over the opposition of the entire neighborhood.

up
Voting is closed. 18

Both/And, not Either/Or

By on

That's ridiculous and small-minded. We need more dancers and artists and musicians, not fewer. In a world where so many people are starving, where children are dying as they wait in refugee camps or being killed because they don't practice the "right" religion, where we are destroying the environment with abandon, where wealth is concentrated in so few hands, where many of our elected officials have no ethics---maybe that's a world where we need to have our spirits lifted by artists of all kinds, rather than be overcome by the darkness all around us. We need both mechanics and dancers.

up
Voting is closed. 41

How will building a new building

Magically make competent vocational education happen? They already built one, and it didn't.

On the other hand, Boston Arts Academy already provides a competent arts high school. They just need a proper building to do it in.

up
Voting is closed. 46

Vocational training

By on

Starts in middle school. Traditionally all middle schools throughout the City had "shops". Some schools had carpentry, others had sheet metal etc. Throw kids into a vocational high school without previous exposure is a disaster which Madison Park has always been. They had state of the art vocational shops which rivaled any school in MA and it didn't help.

up
Voting is closed. 33

Costs!

While I applaud a new school, especially with a focus on the arts, but is anyone else gobsmacked that it will cost $125M to build a school for 500 students? If the city already owns the land, is it all just for planning, demo and construction?

up
Voting is closed. 32

$125M

Is the entire project budget (including all anticipated additional services and contingencies), not the construction cost.

up
Voting is closed. 36

Waste of money

By on

In less than ten years there will be very few families and kids in the City. Spend the money on affordable housing.

up
Voting is closed. 22

Yeah

That makes sense.

Who would be living in this affordable housing again? Not families and kids?

up
Voting is closed. 43

Wait, wait, wait Mr. Baker

By on

The Menino administration definitely got state funding for school renovations. That's why they found themselves in need of a tenant for the Hyde Park Educational Complex when they closed whatever high school was located there (because it was too tough to just call it "Hyde Park High School.") If they mothballed a school they just rehabbed, the state would have asked for their money back. Therefore, a high school named for Mission Hill is located there.

I mean, I love to knock the practically beautified predecessor to Walsh, but he did right on that. Well, except for rehabbing a school then trying to close it, but the funding thing was right.

up
Voting is closed. 17

Never mind the arts

By on

Let's forget for a moment that this is an arts-oriented school, because people keep talking like this is some adult-ed thing that's nice for yuppies, but useless for everybody else.

This is an actual BPS high school, with 440 teen-aged students from across the city going to class every day in a crappy building that should have been replaced years ago (a few years ago, I wrote about a student there who couldn't get to her classes because she'd broken her leg or something, and the elevator was broken, and had been broken for a long time).

These kids deserve a decent school building. And in a city full of BPS haters, I would think we'd want to help one of the few high schools with a good record of turning out well educated graduates.

As for Long Island, in a city being flooded with new revenue from new construction, there's no reason we can't do both - especially since the state will likely cover a large part of the new school. Why we're not is another matter, and a question for the mayor, but I'm not sure why people are so insistent in forcing several hundred kids to stay in a crappy building.

up
Voting is closed. 49

A agree with you, Adam.

By on

There is no reason why we can't do both. But when it appears that we can only do one, at least at this point, and the other one is not even in the picture, it is unfortunate, at least to me, that the care of the homeless ranks lower than this project in the Walsh Administration's eyes. That was the only point I was trying to make.

I don't think any students, arts-oriented or otherwise, should have to go to school in a crappy building. That we can agree on.

up
Voting is closed. 20

There's a reason

By on

First, as noted, I agree this new school is a good idea.

HOWEVER, if you look at the budget, about every new dollar in property tax is getting eaten by education, fixed costs, especially pensions and debt service which are two of the fastest growing expenses in the city. Fix the bridge, where does it come from? We've already obliterated most departments and public safety is fairly flat in staffing and budget as a percent of the budget even after adding 75-100k residents.

The only place left to take it from is schools.

up
Voting is closed. 29

I’ll give you two reasons

By on

1. The state will pony up money for this. If the state was willing to cover half the cost of a bridge to Long Island, without even needing the approval of the General Court, the bridge would be under construction now. Except that

2. The City of Quincy will never allow the bridge to be rebuilt. Evidence? See the last 10 or so years of the Menino administration. That bridge didn’t suddenly go bad. Quincy created the crisis. They have no desire to rectify the situation.

up
Voting is closed. 31

Fame

By on

Every time I walk by the current building (typically on my way home from the clubs), I hear the theme song to Fame in my head. It's the same concept of a school (a high school focusing on the arts)

up
Voting is closed. 29

Went to school here in the 80s

By on

When it was Latin Academy. It was recently the post office warehouse and a real dump. The arts kids deserve better.

However, I’d question why borrowing needs to be done.
This is prime real estate. Build a mid size tower and put the school on the bottom. Lease the rest for 25-100 Years to the developer to finance it. Or just put retail on the bottom and the school above it.

Think outside the box for this parcel. Even sell it and rehab another school for BAA.

I’m not an RE guy but is this crazy?

up
Voting is closed. 31

That is an excellent idea.

By on

That is an excellent idea.
It would ensure the following:
1. it will be built fast
2. it will be built cheaper
3. it will be built well
4. the kids will make good neighbors because they won't be around after work and on the weekends.
Other than that they should sell the land and get enough money in the sale to lay the foundation for the school or maybe lease the land for 99 years to the developer with the money going to BPS.
Highest and best use and a small building there among the giant buildings going up around it doesn't make the highest and best use of the space.

up
Voting is closed. 35

Central location

If the school is to pull kids from all over the city it needs a central location. You can’t just tuck it away out in West Roxbury or hide it down in Dorchester.

Though it seems that’s what they plan to do for however long it takes to finish the new building.

up
Voting is closed. 34

Height limits

By on

It's next to Fenway.

Henry doesnt want anyone getting free box seats and he owns this town - or at least the politicians because he owns the Globe.

They sell this concept by claiming historic preservation around the ballpark. Maybe not valid, but that's why all the development is on the far side of Boylston or further west.

up
Voting is closed. 20

Do these limits apply...

By on

...to this proposed new priced-beyond-local-pockets hotel that would replace the gas station on Boylston? Thinking not somehow. Funny how that works.

up
Voting is closed. 29

8 stories

By on

And far enough away that you won't be able to see into the ballpark. That's the key.

up
Voting is closed. 25

I had the same thought

They have already let the zoning allow for tall buildings on Boylston.

As Adam said, the City does have the capacity to do more than one thing at a time. If we can give the IRS a million in fines out of a slush fund, we are well on the way to building a new school if we just shake out the couches a bit.

Madison Park is structurally a fine building. There is no need to build a new trade school. We just need more hands on guidance and responsibility from our Mayor who comes from the trades.

up
Voting is closed. 30

Madison is not a "strucurally

By on

Madison is not a "strucurally fine building", nor is the rest of the complex. If you want to see inequities, remember that the other school located there is one of our exam schools, the O'Bryant, whose student body actually closely mirrors the city's demographics.

It was built on the cheap to last 30 years and is about 15 years past its expiration date. There's no insulation, it leaks, the windows either don't open or close, the air conditioning and/or heat don't work properly, it's not weather tight and there's a continual rodent and insect infiltration problem. Also, it was built on a brownfield.

None of which means BAA students should continue to suffer a shoddy building.

up
Voting is closed. 31

Fantastic!!

This is already a level one high school, according to the state, which makes it one of the best high schools in the state. MA is #1 in education in the US so this is one of the best high schools in the country. If you've ever seen one of their performances or sat in on their classes you can easily what a wonderful school this is. It's about time they got a real building.

up
Voting is closed. 28

Yes.

By on

My first thought, too, was given the prime location of this school, the new building should have a commercial component to offset costs.

up
Voting is closed. 24

The Boston Arts Academy is

The Boston Arts Academy is currently Boston’s only high school that focuses on the arts. This proposed change is something that will help increase enrollment and give the building an update!

up
Voting is closed. 4