School Formally Files Letter of Intent with City of Boston For Much-Needed High School Facility
BOSTON—May 4, 2018—Roxbury Prep Belgrade Avenue, LLC, on behalf of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School, a tuition-free public school serving students in grades 5 to 11 with the mission of getting students to and through college, today filed a Letter of Intent with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) as the first step in permitting and building this much-needed high school at 361 Belgrade Ave. in Roslindale.
Roxbury Prep’s high school students are spread across two campuses in temporary locations – an annex to a church in Jamaica Plain and two floors of an office building in Roxbury. The new facility will allow high school students in these temporary, separate spaces, to move into one dedicated building for the first time.
The three-story, 96,000 square-foot structure will include 28 classrooms, science and computer labs, a full-sized gymnasium, theater and rehearsal space, and a cafeteria, plus an underground parking garage for staff and visitors.
Roxbury Prep was founded in Boston in 1999 by former U.S. Secretary of Education John King. Roxbury Prep serves 1,400 Boston students across five campuses. The proposed new building will be a single location for the high school; the three Roxbury Prep middle schools will stay in their current locations.
More than 1,600 Boston residents have expressed support for this much-needed high school building through an online petition. On April 10, more than 500 supporters gathered in West Roxbury to advocate for the new school in nearby Roslindale. The crowd was made up of community members, abutters, teachers and students, all working together to make the new school building a reality.
“Operating one high school out of two locations is not sustainable, and it does not provide for students the educational program that they deserve,” said Kate Armstrong, the Associate Chief Operating Officer at Roxbury Prep. “Given size constraints of the two existing temporary locations, we will be forced to move again next year, which will be our third move in four years. We are encouraged to see growing public support for our new school and are committed to being a good neighbor, just as we always strive to be in our existing locations.”
More than 100 students from Roslindale and West Roxbury are currently enrolled at Roxbury Prep and the school expects that number to increase with the new facility planned for 361 Belgrade Ave.
This transit-oriented development will serve 800 students when at full capacity, with the overwhelming majority –90 percent—taking public transportation to school. The site is located along the Needham line Commuter Rail and sits at the intersection of four different MBTA bus lines, which will allow for a seamless reverse commute for students from other parts of the city. The site will also have on-site parking for staff and a school policy prohibiting students from driving to school.
Since 2012, Roxbury Prep has looked at 57 sites across Boston in search of a permanent location for its high school. None of the sites passed its feasibility analysis, which included simple factors like cost, zoning, public transportation and size. In many cases, Roxbury Prep tried to acquire sites and were unable to do so because of steep competition to build in Boston. The site at 361 Belgrade Ave. passes the feasibility analysis and was determined to be an ideal location for the new high school.
The new school facility will be an asset for the community. As a neighborhood school, Roxbury Prep is committed to ensuring that the high school allows for community access outside of school hours.
“I’ve met dozens of students, parents and staff people from Roxbury Prep and I know they will be a wonderful addition to the area,” said Christy Bortolotto a West Roxbury resident and direct abutter to the project. “We look forward to seeing this process move forward and to welcoming our new neighbors.”
Roxbury Prep has a proven track record of high student achievement. Its curriculum includes rigorous college prep and individualized support planning the path to college. Roxbury Prep alumni have graduated from schools like Harvard University, Tufts University and Northeastern University.
Debby Dunlap, a Roslindale resident and Roxbury Prep parent, said this school should be a plus for to Roslindale residents.
“I’ve lived in Roslindale for 16 years and to have a high achieving high school close to home will be a welcome addition,” said Dunlap. “My daughter has had a fantastic experience at Roxbury Prep and even though she will have graduated by the time this school is built, we are still putting in the time and effort to support this project because it’s great for our community and for the future generations of students and families.”
The school project will now enter into the Article 80 process with the BPDA.