Proposed charter school on Roslindale/West Roxbury line has size, number of students cut

Proposed Roxbury Prep on Belgrade Avenue

Architect's rendering.

Uncommon Schools today filed formal plans with the BPDA to build a high school on Belgrade Avenue at West Roxbury Parkway that is smaller both physically and in terms of the number of students and teachers than in initial proposals.

The proposed Roxbury Prep Charter High School got a number of the neighbors riled up enough to create a neighborhood association focused mainly on blocking the school; their signs and banners have since been met by yard signs supporting the school.

The application says the new school, which would be built by razing the old Clay Automotive complex, would have room for up to 562 students - compared to as many as 860 in initial proposals - and 67 teachers and other staff members, down from the initial 80. Also, Uncommon Schools is now proposing 76 on-site parking spaces, up from the original 66.

The size of the building would be reduced from the initial 92,000 square feet to 49,950 square feet over three floors.

The filing kicks off a period of review by the BPDA - including a required public hearing, after which the BPDA board will then decide whether to approve the proposal. Because of the size reduction, Uncommon Schools will no longer have to file a detailed traffic study for the area surrounding the site, and the BPDA will not create a citizen advisory group to independently review the proposal's potential impacts on the neighborhood.

In addition to the BPDA, the project will also require the approval of the city zoning board, because the building would be about 4 1/2 feet higher than allowed under the site's zoning.

The proposed school would replace temporary high-school quarters Roxbury Prep is now leasing in Hyde Park and Roxbury.

Uncommon Schools says the reduction of the building's size means it will be able to add exterior enhancements to the site, including better entrances to the Bellevue commuter-rail stop for both students right into the school and for nearby residents who want to take the train.

Roxbury Prep small-project review application (52M PDF).

The plans still rely on most students continuing to take public transit to and from the school; in addition to commuter rail, several bus lines run down Belgrade Avenue. Even before the reduction in the proposed student population, Uncommon Schools said the high school would not prove any burden on public transit because students - and teachers - would be making reverse commutes.

Among the benefits touted in the filing:

The existing commercial/ light industrial building will be replaced with a new and vibrant use that will contribute to the active streetscape of Belgrade Avenue and the surrounding neighborhood;

The cafeteria will be designed with large storefront windows to create an active and exciting building frontage, helping to create dialogue between the school and the community;

The end of Anawan Avenue will be reconfigured to improve automobile access, helping to create an active pick-up and drop-off for users of the MBTA Bellevue Commuter Rail Station;

The building will have a staff and student entrance on the northeast corner nearest to the commuter rail stop, improving oversight of the rail station and limiting the impact of arriving students and staff on the adjacent residential neighbors; and

The existing surface parking along West Roxbury Parkway will be improved with landscaping to help minimize the impact of the existing use on the Parkway.

Proposed view from West Roxbury Parkway:

Roxbury Prep from West Roxbury Parkway



Free tagging: 




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Good. This drawing certainly is appealing visually. I expect this means approval is likely, as it should be. Get this thing built and the kids into one building. The NIMBYs had their say. Time to get it done and to get those terrible lawn signs down telling kids they're not welcome in the community.


Not a good area for a school

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And I’ve heard that if this goes through, Holy Name might consider opening a school on that land they own over by the rotary. Imagine if that happened?


You’ve got to be kidding

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I drive, bike, walk, or ride buses up and down Belgrade Ave. past this site almost every day and I have done so at all hours of the day for almost 30 years. I’ve never seen anything that could be called “congestion” here. Never. Congestion is when Washington St. is backed up from the Square to Metropolitan Ave, or when traffic is stopped all along Poplar St. back beyond the TCB bank. Congestion is not a couple of cars stopped at the pedestrian light next to Stash’s.


The other way too....

The West Roxbury Parkway will get backed up to Washington St. (not all the way) in the mornings. Although I have noticed the last 2 years the traffic on the West Roxbury Parkway and the VFW Parkway has been a lot lighter. I wonder if this has to do with the VFW light that is off its sensor at Corey St (making the Independence left turn lane less packed) of if the new on/off ramp on 128 in Needham has helps this as well.

I only say this because from 2000-2015, If I left my house in the Burbs at 07:00, it would take 55 minutes to get to BPD headquarters. Now it takes about 40 minutes. (Takes about 20-25 at 3am)


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Then you've been biking with your eyes closed. There's no way you can go thru there and not see any congestion. Take a photo between 3-6 pm any weekday or 7-10 am.

They really need to find

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They really need to find another place to build this school. It will ruin the charm of the neighborhood around Belgrade Ave. the only people who want it built are the ones who do not live around there and will it have to deal with all the issues brought along with the school, such as traffic from the school busses.

Um, what?

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I admit it, I don't live anywhere near Belgrade Avenue, although I get subs at Stash's sometimes, so maybe I'm just missing something - like the quaint charm of the Clay/NTW auto place. Could you tell me where I should look to see the charm in that building? Or should I be looking in its parking lot for something charming that will be lost if it's replaced by a school? Thanks a bunch!



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"charm" aka homogeneous ;)

Still LMAO

They really need to find

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They really need to find another place to build this school. It will ruin the charm of the neighborhood around Belgrade Ave.


I live on Belgrade - which "charm" are you talking about? The existing auto repair place? The big hole in the ground next to it that's gonna be condos? The pedestrian unfriendly W.Rox/Belgrade crossing full of idiots blocking the box and careening in and out of Roche Brothers? The mostly empty 1 floor commercial building across the street?

If they build it looking anything like the drawings, it's a vast improvement. The kids will take the commuter rail or the 35/36/37 (taking the place of the West Roxbury High complex kids since that's shutting down, so even reverse-commute numbers aren't really going to change).

Build the damn thing. Fuckin NIMBYs.


Fun game

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I invented a fun game I enjoyed playing while walking around the neighborhood this fall. It was even better when my kid was along with me. Spot a neighbor with a “Stop 361 Belgrade” sign out in their front yard. Say hi and “hey what’s that sign about?” When they explain say “huh, well why doesn’t the sign just say stop the new school for poor kids?”. Real inquisitive. Trust me you’ll enjoy it.



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Like other Boston charter schools, Roxbury Prep is open to all Boston residents. The caveat is that if there are more applicants than seats, it has a lottery.


Grads earn 5x as many Bachelor's Degrees than other poor kids

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One of the promotional boxes on the Uncommon Schools home page says that their graduates earn Bachelor's Degrees at 5x times the rate of low-income students nationally. If that's the case, build it as big and as nice as possible.

With the holidays over and light at the end of the tunnel for BPS students this academic year, it's only a matter of time before the protests that Boston Latin School and the other exam schools are too difficult to get into. It sounds like this place could rival the exam schools.

If Uncommon Schools is as good as they claim, we should be advocating for more charter schools built as big as necessary to enroll those students who actually want to be there. I don't always agree with Adam but I do here. It's not like they are tearing down a historic site or building on top of a Native American Cemetery. Looks like an improvement to me, plus (I'm guessing) only fully utilized September thru June. Quiet summers. Build it.


To all you out of town clowns

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Imagine the horror, a well established neighborhood doesn’t won’t a HS which won’t serve any local families.

Your only rebuttal is to call people racist. Grow the F up.


Location and students

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The current school is in Roxbury. It makes sense not many West Roxbury or Roslindale kids attend. It’s open to all Boston students and high school only lasts four years. If you build a new school here it will draw students from the neighborhood. I can’t believe I had to type that.


Plus ...

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There already are students from Roslindale at the school.



Belgrade is a strip of run-down triple deckers, auto body shops, and bodegas. The location itself is on the very edge of Roslindale. Well-established neighborhood? What well-established neighborhood?

The neighborhood, such as it is, is hardly unanimous against having this school. There are lots of people who want this school, both people who plan to use it and who don't.

There is currently no high school at all in Roslindale. All families with high school age kids must export them daily to another neighborhood or town. Surely some Well-Established families in Roslindale will be happy their kids can go to school in their own neighborhood.

If you had a good point to make, this might be a good time. Otherwise people are going to think your opposition is based on bad points.


run down triple deckers? bodegas? elitist much?

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Run down triple-deckers? elitist much?

So if an area has triple deckers and bodegas it not a neighborhood in your definition? wow ok.

Dig deeper to see how many Rozzie kids will be able to get spots there?

The reality is that preference will be given to the 900+ kids already enrolled in their three other locations - not in Roslindale.

People in the neighborhood and current BPS parents have a right to be upset about a large school being built on their doorstep when their kids will not have a real shot of getting in.

I would LOVE a school that will cater to kids in Rozzie - the FACT is that this school will not be anything close to this.

Buddy, the very system of BPS

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Buddy, the very system of BPS will be that no school is going to cater to only kids from roslindale. deal with it. after the initial priority is given to the kids currently in the school, geography and distance traveled will probably end up discouraging kids from far-flung neighborhoods, anyway, leaving more spots for neighborhood kids.

"the school's open to the whole city so let's not build it" good job letting perfect be the enemy of good.

clearly spoken by someone not in the system

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Clearly spoken by someone not in the system (or been through the lottery). The city has done its best (better than in year's past) to provide schooling options close to your home. This would not offer anything close to that.

My point is that the Administration is being misleading saying that it will be a "resource for the Roslindale community" and citing that Roslindale doesn't have a high school, so this will fill the void.

Not the case and it's clear to anyone who has been following this.

You grasp how school enrollment works, right?

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Roslindale and West Roxbury parents can enroll their children in Roxbury Prep in 5th grade. come 9th grade, they would be in the high school. It's an open admissions, with a lottery to determine spots. Roslindale and West Roxbury kids are as welcome as kids from Roxbury, Dorchester, Charlestown, or Beacon Hill would be.

thanks for proving my point.

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unless I want to pull my kids out of BPS and send them to Roxbury Prep in the 5th grade - the likelihood of them getting a spot in the Roslindale-based HIGH SCHOOL (after preference is given to existing Roxbury Prep students, and getting through a lottery) is slim to none.

So you don't want your kid to attend a local high school?

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Lot's of kids in Boston are put on school buses every morning and shipped to a school in another neighborhood. My kid goes to Sacred Heart, and there are a lot of kids from Hyde Park in his class. A school bus drops off kids every morning. I've known kids on Kittredge who commuted to the Mary E. Curley, which is a few miles from home and outside the neighborhood.

The reality is that you wouldn't want your kid to go to Roxbury Prep for your reasons, and there may very well be good reasons for it, but don't talk out of one side of your mouth that Roslindale kids can't go to Roxbury Prep while subtly noting that you would never send your kid there. It kind of proves my point.

So, thanks for proving my point for me.

Nope. Nice try again.

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God, your really want to label everyone as racist. That's evidently your reality and it's pretty sad.

Someone wanting their kids to attend a school in their own neighboor is only racist in your twisted head.

Also, try actually reading people's posts before you attempt your lame "veiled" clains of racism.

Again, Roxbury prep should not promote this as a school that will be for "the Roslindale community" when it clearly will not be.

Stay triggered.

There's an easy fix to this issue

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Expand the capacity of the 9-12 campus to be able to admit a large class of new students external to the Roxbury Prep 5-8 students. But then, that would require the larger building that everybody in the anti campaign has been decrying.

I would love to see you buy

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I would love to see you buy one of those “run down” triple deckers that cost close to $1,000,000

I wish Roslindale

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Would remember they live in the city of Boston. The same city as these kids. They are in your community. You live in Boston in 2019. Growth is going to happen.
This is my neighborhood and I welcome these kids. Better than a Caffe Nero or some other chain


I also live on Belgrade and

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I also live on Belgrade and would much rather have a cafe Nero rather than a school. Imagine the damage a school on Belgrade would do to property values in the area.

Well established neighborhood?

Do you live in the dentist office with the neon signs, the weird triangular dentist office, the closed gas station, the autobody shop or the tire store? Did you also protest the building going in where Newport Cleaners used to be?

You and your ilk are acting like this is being put in say, the Triple Crown storage building or something, not on a major street well served with buses AND directly on a CR stop.



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I’ve never seen anything that says the school is closed to Roslindale or West Roxbury residents. In fact, there are students who live walking distance from the proposed site.

Why ever would you think local kids could not attend this school? I could think of one reason, but it might color the discussion in a way some would rather not mention out loud.


making this a race issue - just lame.

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The school is certainly not closed to Westie and Roslindale kids (and I know a ton of parents that would love to send their kids to a school within walking distance). However, their only chance of getting in will be to have already been a Roxbury Prep student at one of their three feeder schools half way across the city - or to get in a "lottery" for the remaining spots (of which there will be almost none).

Pro tip - it helps to read the fine print (and understand the actual concerns of your neighbors) before making everything about race.

Here's the point you keep missing

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Charter Schools take kids from all over the city.

I take it you would never send your kid to Latin. I mean, that is a school further from the feeder schools you would never send your kid to. Latin Academy is around the corner from one of the schools. No go for that, too, right?

does it get lonely in your head?

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the mental gymnastics you perform to try and make a point must be tiring.

When did I say that I wouldn't send my kids to either latin or latin Academy? oh that's right, I didn't.

The point is that I would not have to pull my kids out of a Rozzie BPS school in order to have them qualify for a seat at latin or latin academy.

However, if I wanted to have a slim chance of getting a seat at Roxbury Prep (High School), I would have to pull my kids out of BPS, transfer them to RP or try to get a lottery seat AFTER they give preference to the three existing RP feeder schools. Which means there will be essentially NO seats to be had.

Which brings me back to the original point at Roxbury Prep should not be trying to sell this to abutters and Rozzie/Westie neighbors as a likely resource or option for local kids.

So to summarize

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You’re okay with sending you kids across the city to attend some schools, but not others.

If your kids got into Roxbury Prep for 5th grade, they’d be at the current auto repair place come 9th grade. And I don’t know if you know this, but going in the charter lottery does not mean you have to pull your kids out of BPS.

Rozzie kids go to Roxbury Prep now.

"An asset to the community"... totally misleading.

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The Roxbury Prep website for this proposal is totally misleading as they are positioning the project as "an asset to the community". Which community? Yes, parents in West Roxbury and Roslindale would love a well-located, quality high school option for their kids - 100%. But Roxbury prep is leaving out a ton of info regarding the neighborhood draw and families they will be catering to.

The website states that:

- Roslindale is the only neighborhood without a high school
- The Neighborhood needs a high-quality, public school option.
- Any student on Boston can enter the lottery to attend Roxbury Prep.
- Roxbury Prep can be a new school option for students attending neighborhood schools.

They are trying to appear as a likely High School option for Westie and Rozzie kids. What they leave out is that preference for spots will be given to their three other existing feeder schools in Mission Hill, Grove Hall, and Fields Corner (900+students) - so NOT Roslindale - unless that Westie or Rozzie kid is already enrolled in one of those schools.

And in an attempt calm fears of traffic (which are real concerns) they state that "90% of the students will be taking public transit". So if they anticipate 90% of students will be taking the MBTA to get to school via, how can they (in the same breath) attempt to position this as a local school option - where kids walk to school from the immediate area?

As a parent with kids in BPS, I would have an easier time supporting this development if I had even a small assurance that my kids and other kids in our neighborhood would have a chance to attend. Wanting a quality school option in your own neighborhood is not a far-flung idea.

These bullets and messaging are deliberately misleading - which does not do much for building trust with the actual community - ie Westie and Rozzie. To try and sell this a likely option for local High School kids is a flat out lie. Shame on them for not clearly presenting the whole picture.


Us vs them

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I don't think of this community as us vs them. We are all part of this community in this city. Sometimes things benefit others and not me, and that's ok. There are plenty of things that benefit me.

I live near here

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I live in the area, and although I am certainly not opposed to a good school for students (from anywhere- let's be honest, most of the students at WR High aren't from WR) and a nice facility, I don't think it's a great place to put it- there's not going to be adequate outdoor space for the students- certainly no room for sports fields, etc. Where is faculty going to park? They're going to reconfigure Anawan Street to be an active drop off / pick up lane, but that means that Anawan will get backed up and then as a result of the students having to cross WR Parkway, that too will become congested.

Serious question- since they're closing WR High and it sounds like the building needs to come down, we just spent MILLIONS on the fields there, it's an already established space, why aren't we utilizing that area? I haven't hear that they're going to rebuild WR High and if they are planning to, why aren't we able to fit both buildings in the complex? Seems like a win win for everyone? It's not just this school that's going to add to the traffic, it's the zillion condos and apartments that have popped up- I am all for (positive) change, but it seems like there's too much happening all at once. Putting the school in an already established school zone would be good for everyone, no?

it's too bad some of these

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it's too bad some of these commenters didn't have a high quality school available for them when they were learning how to read before commenting :,(

Where is faculty going to park?

Per article, not even going into the building docs themselves: 76 on-site parking spaces.

As for West Rox, it's possibly the furthest flung location in the city, literally on the border of dedham, with a single (not great) bus providing service out there. Meanwhile, the Belgrade location is served by a Rail stop AT THEIR BACKDOOR and THREE bus lines, and is walkable to the square, even.

speaking of reading before commenting...

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Newsflash - West Roxbury has MANY bus lines that travel through it - and where do you think the train goes after the stopping at Belgrade? into West Roxbury genius.

And what do you mean by furthest flung? - that would be Readville but don't let actual knowledge of the City get in the way before you spout off inaccuracies. Also, many Boston neighborhoods border on neighboring cities and towns - that is sort of how it works. Brighton touches Newton, Dorchester touches Milton, etc.

and - its a mile walk down Belgrade to the square.

Brush up on your Boston next time will yah

I take it you've never been to the West Roxbury Home Depot

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It's across the tracks (with no station) from the West Roxbury Educational Complex.

Someday, if you need some ice melt or whatever, forgo your local hardware store and trek out to Home Depot. Better yet, some nice day in the spring take public transportation to Millennium Park. Here's a copy of the bus schedule. I think then you would appreciate how far flung the West Roxbury Educational Complex is. As the crow flies, it's practically in Needham.

Also, Readville has a charter school in it.

Awkward wording

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Yeah, I read it the same way you did at first, too, but I think he meant the West Roxbury Education Complex, rather than the entire neighborhood. If you re-read his comment through that context, you'll see it makes sense. There is one bus that goes kind of near (the 36), there is no nearby train station, etc. Everything the commenter said is true regarding the remoteness of the school.

I stand corrected and missed

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I stand corrected and missed the part of the on site faculty parking. 76 on site parking spots is great! Thanks for pointing it out, you keyboard warrior, you! Where would we be without your obnoxious quips at someone asking a question?? My goodness, your mom must be so proud.

Hmmm... I am guessing the students currently enrolled at WRH and RP have a way to get to their respective schools? The bus? Carpool? Their legs? A combination there of? Which, silly me, assumes that other students in the future would be able to do the same regardless if it's a Charter school from Roxbury or any other educational community. I assume the students enrolled at RP now do the same- take the bus? Carpool? Walk? A combination there of? GASP! Asking them to do the same in an already established school zone would be asinine! What was I thinking?! Also, you're suggesting moving an existing school 4 miles to the Belgrade site. I am asking why moving to the WREC, which is 5 miles away- which is one extra mile from the existing site- is such a preposterous idea. Can you tell me why we can't replace a school with a... school?? A school with athletic fields? With existing parking lots? With already established zoning? Could be a bigger facility to accommodate more students like they originally asked for and would potentially benefit more people? Oh, there's not a train stop AT THEIR BACK DOOR? There's not one for them now. Also, see above.

Have a great weekend!