By Seth Daniel
Despite numerous letters to Mayor Martin Walsh’s Office, advocacy from Councilor Sal LaMattina and a strong petition circulating throughout the school community, the Mayor’s Office and Boston Public Schools said this week that the Warren Prescott School would not be submitted to the state for a Statement of Interest (SOI) this April.
“Boston Public Schools is currently engaged in a comprehensive 10-Year Educational and Facilities Plan (“Build BPS”), which will create a framework for institutional reforms and future capital investments for the entire district,” said Carleton Jones, executive director of capital and facilities management at Boston Public Schools. “As a result, the City of Boston will not be submitting Statements of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in fiscal year 2016 for any major school construction projects.”
The cutoff date to get into the pipeline for the MSBA process – which is a long process of review and design for which the SOI is only the beginning step. Projects that are eventually accepted by the MSBA qualify for a certain amount of state contributions towards the overall project costs. Some projects can get more, and others can get less state funding.
After a well-attended meeting with elected officials like State Rep. Dan Ryan, LaMattina and many parents, Jones had assured the school community that the Warren Prescott was one of the top schools in line for repairs. Many parents took the ball and ran with the positive vibe from that meeting with Jones, pushing for the City to submit an SOI before this year’s April cutoff so the school repair project could get into the pipeline for the long state process.
On Tuesday, Jones told the Patriot-Bridge that the Warren Prescott is part of a longer study that will continue this year, and conclude next January. It is at that point the City will evaluate which schools, of if any schools, will qualify for the submission of an SOI to the state.
“The Warren-Prescott School was chosen to participate in the initial phases of the study process, including visits to conduct physical infrastructure and educational assessments, in order to better understand the school’s utility and to compare it against other BPS school buildings with similar traits,” he said. “The planning process for Build BPS will conclude in January 2017. The subsequent recommendations will provide a better understanding of capital infrastructure needs throughout the district, as a whole, and provide a foundation for future submissions of Statements of Interests to the MSBA.”
One very positive piece of news, though, for the school community to latch onto was the fact that bathroom related improvements, documented in a very detailed way at the site meeting earlier this year, will be done this summer.
“In order to address some existing concerns, several restroom related improvements are scheduled to occur at the Warren Prescott this coming summer,” Jones said.
The City has not shown any movement on submitting SOI’s to the state for major repairs this year. However, eyebrows were raised when the Mayor’s Office submitted to the City Council last month several SOIs for schools in other parts of the City, including West Roxbury High School and Boston Latin School. Those SOIs were not for major repairs, but for boilers and roofs, which is a completely different funding track within the state MSBA funding process.