Walsh Administration Should Act on Councilor Yancey's Proposal to Build a New High School in Mattapan
District 4 Councilor Charles Yancey's office put out an interesting bulletin a few days ago on his recent attempt to revive his decade and a half old proposal for the city to build a 14 acre $120 million Boston public high school campus on the site of the former Boston State Hospital in Mattapan.
At a May 5th budget hearing, he asked Interim School Superintendent John McDonough to tell him how many students currently attend high school in facilities not originally designed as high schools.
The answer was 4,868 students, housed in 16 buildings - a mix of middle and elementary school buildings, and commercial and industrial spaces - including Quincy Upper (219 students), English High School (531), Fenway High School (328), Mary Lyon High (128), Dorchester Academy (400), Snowden International (367), Boston Arts Academy (439), Another Course to College (222), Greater Egleston High School (199), Community Academy (77), Boston International High School (406), Margarita Muñiz Academy (158), Boston Day and Evening Academy (414), Boston Adult Technical Academy (260), Kennedy Academy for Health Careers (325), and Community Academy of Science and Health (395).
Ironically, in the year 2000, the city council passed Yancey's loan order for $57 million to build a high school on the Boston State Hospital site in Mattapan on 20 acres set aside by state legislation. Had it been built, the city wouldn't be facing this problem now.
Yancey "envisioned a state-of-the-art facility similar to some of the high schools in suburban areas where students have access to science labs, libraries, cafeterias and athletic facilities."
He also "noted that there have been more than two dozen new high schools constructed in surrounding communities since he introduced his loan-order 14 years ago."
While the costs have risen to $120 million today, this sounds like a fine idea. Certainly compared to another administrative proposal that's making the rounds that would build a one acre high school downtown for $266 million.
McDonough agreed to visit the Mattapan site, but didn't commit to any specific action on the plan. Although he did say, "I happen to think you are probably right on the mark."
This publication thinks so too, and hopes McDonough and the Walsh Administration take Yancey's proposal seriously and make it happen at speed.
Boston public school students deserve a new high school campus that's at least as good as the two dozen new suburban high schools that have been built in surrounding communities since the original 2000 loan order.
Perhaps after the Mattapan campus is built, the city can think about heeding the advice of its own 1996 blue ribbon commission report on education and building a second new high school to fully meet its students need for state-of-the-art high school facilities for the next few decades.