Though it was no secret situation, the Boston School Committee made it official on Dec. 16 and voted to close down the Charles Edwards Middle School in Charlestown at the end of this school term – committing to a community process for its re-use and that it would only be used for educational purposes.
“With that vote, we will now be able to specify what the future use will be,” said Nate Kuder of Boston Public Schools (BPS). “We are committing to use it only for educational space in the future. There are no plans to sell the building. I recall there was a rumor that we would sell it and that it would become housing. We do support affordable housing, but our primary concerns are for an educational use. We’ll begin that community conversation at our Jan. 7 meeting and on into the spring.”
The Edwards Middle serves grades 6-8 at its campus on Main Street and Walker Street, but primarily it’s student body is made up of kids from outside the neighborhood. A large majority of its students come from East Boston, and parents at the school had been in favor of keeping their kids more in the Eastie neighborhood. That led to a phasing out of the school in 2019 within the overall call by Supt. Brenda Cassellius to phase out stand-alone middle schools. There was no sixth grade admitted to the school this year, and with the 8th grade departing in June, that will leave only the 7th grade to matriculate elsewhere.
While the closure of the school marks an end for several students outside Charlestown, it presents an opportunity for parents of elementary school children in the Town. With elementary seats prior to COVID-19 at a premium in the three Charlestown schools (Harvard Kent, Warren Prescott and Eliot K-8), parents have been clamouring over the past five years to get more space for more elementary seats.
Many saw the Edwards as a logical choice to meet those needs, and Kudor said BPS agrees that could be a great option for the building’s educational future.
“We know in Charlestown there’s been a push for more elementary seats,” he said. “We also know there is a really robust school community at the three schools – the Warren-Prescott, the Harvard Kent and the Eliot. I don’t think we’re thinking of it as a new elementary school, but we could use it to support our existing elementary schools. With all these moving pieces, we wanted to go in with a map of what the neighborhood needs are and getting community feedback to what they want to see there.” That discussion will start alongside the community meeting about the new Charlestown High School 7-12 expansion, which takes place on Thursday, Jan. 7 on Zoom