Families and Residents Offer Fresh Approach to Opening New Public School

January 22, 2013
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A group of families, residents and supporters are taking a proactive approach to bringing a new public elementary school to serve downtown neighborhoods, even helping the city to identify possible sites for the proposed educational institute.

The newly established Downtown Schools for Boston focuses on neighborhoods that currently have no primary schools, including Back Bay, Beacon Hill, central Boston (Downtown Crossing, Downtown North, Government Center and the Financial District), Fenway/Kenmore and the West End. Its mission includes adding public elementary schools in downtown neighborhoods, as well as capacity to existing schools; enabling more children to attend Boston public schools and helping more families stay in downtown Boston; and supporting efforts to improve the quality of downtown public schools, according to the group’s Web site.

“Over the past 10 years the number of children ages 4 and under living in the downtown neighborhoods has grown by over 20 percent, and more and more families would like to stay in the city and send their children to a Boston Public School close to their homes,” said Ania Camargo, one of the leaders of Downtown Schools for Boston. “Our effort emphasizes all the downtown neighborhoods coming together for a common goal, and we want to do everything in conjunction with Boston Public Schools and the city.”

Earlier this month, Downtown Schools for Boston requested that the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) include an alternative for a public elementary school in the scope of its review for 40 Trinity Place, a 33-story hotel and residential complex slated for the Copley Square area. This was among 30 possible locations for a school that the group’s site committee has already identified, Camargo said.

State Rep. Marty Walz, who is working closely with Camargo and other Downtown Schools for Boston leaders, said, “I have for many years advocated that BPS should open a school in the downtown neighborhoods to serve the families that live here. We also now have renewed momentum and signs that the mayor and superintendent of school may be supportive of our goal.”

City Councilor Mike Ross also voiced his strong support for Downtown Schools for Boston, adding that the group’s efforts could soon make the longtime dream of opening a new public elementary school to serve downtown neighborhoods a reality.

“Ania has shown tremendous leadership in this broad-based collaborative effort to coordinate people in support of downtown schools,” Ross said. “This has already gained momentum, as well as the attention of the School Department and the Mayor’s Office… and should hopefully result in a downtown school as soon as possible.” To learn more about Downtown Schools for Boston, visit www. downtownschools.org.

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