Sunday, July 20, 2014

Letter to Mayor Walsh

July 20, 2014

Dear Mayor Walsh,

·      I am writing as a parent of a Boston Arts Academy (BAA) student. Since it was opened in 1998 in a "temporary spot", BAA has been looking for a home that would allow the school to fulfill its mission and vision. I worked for BAA as a media teacher the year it opened and  was shocked to see, when visiting with my accepted daughter,  that not only had nothing changed in 15 years but that the building had declined to unsafe conditions for students and staff. The current state of the BAA facility limits the school’s ability to carry out its unique arts and academic program and serve as the only public arts high school in Boston Public Schools.

·      BAA is currently in a schematic design phase with the Massachusetts School Building Authority. We urge you to support BAA to have a suitable facility for its educational needs, and support this design, which is being submitted to the MSBA on July 22nd.

·      The next step will be a project funding agreement between the City of Boston and Massachusetts School Building Authority on September 24th.
·     BAA, a performing arts high school, does not have an auditorium!!!!!!

·     BAA theater and dance students cannot compete in competitions with students from other schools because they have no auditorium where they can rehearse. Lack of space, means students have to stretch, play music, and rehearse in hallways, disrupting other classes and leading to injuries. Dancers get hurt, frequently, because of the tiny rooms mean for ¼ the number of students. My daughter, a dancer, has literally crashed into a wall due to overcrowding during a dance.

·      BAA has had to discontinue many educational program offerings due to space constraints. 

·      There is only ONE functioning science lab for 440 students. 

·      90% of BAA’s academic classrooms DO NOT meet the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s size and space requirements. 

·      This project offers the school a home that meets its learning needs, and shares those resources with the Josiah Quincy Upper School. This new building would also offer the ability to house a middle school for the arts. We know there is much demand for this among Boston families, and this building could further enhance the Boston Public Schools vision for the future.  The Parcel 25 location is the only acceptable site that fits all three schools needs. In 2014, BAA had space for 125 students, and more than 700 applied for these spots. The building will include a theatre that can seat 400, one of the only theatres of its size in downtown Boston. All the classrooms will meet the standards of the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The school will have a design and visual communications lab that supports its career and technical education program. This building has many interdisciplinary classroom spaces where the school will continue to
strengthen its innovative curriculum, including STEAM (STEM +Arts). In this building, Boston Arts Academy would remain full-inclusion, and expand to offer seats to substantially-separate students with intellectual/cognitive disabilities to meet the growing needs of Boston Public Schools, as well as to expand access to arts education for students who currently do not have such access.

·      Boston Arts Academy has incredible faculty and staff, talented and passionate students from every neighborhood in Boston, and consistent success—each year 94% of graduates are accepted to college. This school deserves a suitable home that will allow it to continue to education the artists, scholars, and citizens, who are the cultural ambassadors for our city.

·      We urge you to consider all of these factors, and give these three schools the building they and the city of Boston deserve.

Sincerely yours,

Lisa Link, 
BPS parent and registered voter
Boston, MA