North End residents on many occasions expressed their concerns regarding possibly losing the North Bennet Street School and the much needed expansion of probably the best public school in Boston, The Eliot School on Charter Street.
NBSS has told the community that unless they find a bigger space to operate their classes they would be forced to find a location outside of the North End.
The school has actually moved several classes to Arlington before the City of Boston announced its support of transferring the building to accommodate the needs both schools.
In a letter, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, informed all parties involved that the City has acquired the NBSS buildings allowing for the very popular John Eliot K-8 School to eventually expand into these four buildings located at 37-39 North Bennet Street and 48-52 Tileston Street.
Reportedly, the new school property will be renovated by the City and will be open in the next few years. In turn, NBSS will receive 150 North Street and 130-140 Richmond Street and pay the City some cash.
As part of the RFP process, NBSS has agreed to participate in the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program annually in the form of educational scholarships to their school.
The Eliot School is one of the City’s most populated schools, with 322 students enrolled and a student waiting list of 295.
The endeavor was a full scale community effort led by the school’s Principal Tracy Walker Griffin, the Eliot School Coalition, the three North End elected officials Senator Anthony Petruccelli, Representative Aaron Michlewitz and Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina.
The exchange was also supported by the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council and the North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association.
This year and a half process which was voted on by the City’s Public Facilities Commission, accepted an offer valued at $11,350.00. The City will receive cash and four buildings in the transaction.
The four buildings will be turned over to the Property and Construction Management Department as they are transitioned and undergo renovations.
“This is a great announcement for both schools and the neighborhood as well,” commented Representative Michlewitz. “Having the Eliot School expanded and able to enroll more students and the North Bennet Street School to remain in the community is a major victory for everyone involved.”
Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina who played a major role in this transaction was pleased with the positive announcement. “The neighborhood made this happen by working together to make this community endeavor a reality.”
Senator Petruccelli who combined his efforts with Michlewitz and LaMattina said, “This is great news coming out of the Mayor’s Office that resulted in positive results for both schools, the neighborhood and the City.”
“We are thrilled that Mayor Menino has found a solution to the need for additional capacity at the Eliot School,” said Superintendent Carol R. Johnson. “Our talented teachers and school leaders have turned this school into a place of excellence and this decision will allow us to open the doors for hundreds of more students.”
Many residents have told the Review that if not for the Mayor’s first-hand involvement this transaction would not have occurred.