K-8 charter school wins approval for new building on Columbia Road in Dorchester

Conservatory Lab Charter School rendering

Architect's rendering. With birds.

The Board of Appeals today approved a new $25-million building for the Conservatory Lab Charter School on Columbia Road at Quincy Street.

The new building will give the school a permanent building for its students in grades 3-8, who now go to class in a leased building on Dorchester Avenue. The school's K-2 students would remain in their current building on Hancock Street.

The school hopes to have the new building ready for students by the start of school n 2019.

The BPDA had previously approved the project.

Project details (8M PDF).

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Comments

If u squint

You can see Boson City Hall in that rendering...

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Meanwhile

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our public school buildings are crumbling. What is wrong with this picture?

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One reason

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The Boston Public School Department has nothing to do with this.

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Wrong

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BPL is paying for it through per-student assessments.

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The idea that this is not public

That's what's wrong with this picture.

This school is open to all Boston children and does not charge tuition. It also provides an education unavailable in mainstream public schools.

Criticize charter schools where they fail. This is a case of success.

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Next question

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If this is public, then why don't all public school students have access to nice new buildings like this?

Almost worse that it is public because it means that we are going back to the old days of segregation, where some kids got nice facilities and others got the dregs. That was the basis of a lawsuit, a racist politician ascending, and a judges order for busing as an option of absolute last resort.

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Could you maybe educate yourself first?

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Before spouting off like this?

Despite all its problems, I remain a BPS fan, but please: This charter school is open to any Boston resident through a lottery, so that makes it more accessible to the public than equivalent BPS elementary schools.

And while the pace seems glacial, BPS schools are getting upgrades. Look at the Dearborn STEM school and the plans for Boston Arts Academy.

If you're going to argue against charter schools, you really need to come up with better arguments.

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I'll believe it when I see ...

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Student body that is representative of income, ethnicity, gender
Lottery pool that is representative of income, ethnicity, gender

Otherwise, it is yet another way for those who have to keep their kids from those who have not.

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Sure you will

Conservatory Lab Charter has a student body that is 50.9% African-American, 32% Hispanic, with 12% special ed, 14.9% limited English proficient, and 42.4% economically disadvantaged.

Believing yet?

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An argument against charter schools

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Adam, just because you have a lottery that isn't based on race or gender or whatever, doesn't mean you have a fair system. Some students will get in, many equally deserving students will not, and will not be compensated in any way. There's nothing fair about that. Charter schools are not the answer.

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Another problem

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Charter schools find ways to "drown the bunnies" - which includes kids who "underperform" because they don't have parents who do their projects and homework for them as that is the level of "performance" expected.

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Nope. My kid goes there. Many

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Nope. My kid goes there. Many special needs kids, much student support, no weeding out. Might be true of other charters, but I have only seen the opposite.

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Segregation?

This represents segregation on what basis? Next you'll be saying we shouldn't call kids who can't go there "people with high numbers in the admission lottery," but "Maxinumeric-Americans."

But seriously, to respond to your question, all public school students can't have school in nice new buildings because it takes time, as well as money, to build nice new buildings, and students have to be in school today, not when the buildings are done.

You know, like the upper Conservatory Lab kids have to be in rental space at Carney Hospital right now, and the lower school kids go to school in a former nursing home on Hancock Street, instead of being in a building built to be a school and meet their needs.

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K-8

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So, it's a remedial school for dogs?

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Wow

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A development that's not a 'luxury condo' building. What happened?

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How are they paying for it?

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According to their 2017 annual report, they have...

$1.8M in net assets
$0.4M/yr in operating income (revenue minus costs)
$1M/yr in rent

So they avoid $1M/yr in rent, but have almost no cash to put down for a down payment. How on Earth are they affording this 450 student school, complete with extra music facilities?

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The parents

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The parents

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I don't have any insider info here, but

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probably the same way BPS affords large projects like this: municipal bonds. You borrow the money from citizens of the city, pay them reasonable interest on it [and provide an investment opportunity that isn't tied to the volatility of the stock market], and then repay it over 15-30 years with the money that would otherwise have gone to rent payments.

Infrastructure improvements like this don't work like buying a house; you don't have to come up with 20% down, you just have to convince people that you're not at risk of taking their money and fleeing to Aruba. In this case, it's a school with an established track record, and I'm guessing the loan is backed by the city of Boston.

I'm not seeing the outrage here.

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See this outrage

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It is outrageous that public bonds and public money are going to give a handful of students a decent building and innovative curriculum, while the rest are segregated into nasty buildings with truly minimal canned curriculum.

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A handful?

The new building will serve 275 kids, out of the 450 total kids at Conservatory Lab. 450 is about average sized for a school in BPS, on the large end for elementary.

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Are you suggesting no

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Are you suggesting no improvements be made in the BPS system? Keep everyone down?

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No

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I'm saying that such opportunities should be offered to all children.

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Can a charter access muni bonds?

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After all, they're not gov't schools, so how would they have access to muni? As for non-muni bonds, they don't have the balance sheet so far as I can tell...

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Good. And let's make we fill

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Good. And let's make we fill it with quality teachers who will leave a positive impact on students. Let's change the stastics I still reading in the Boston Health Commission report!!

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Location