Call it a long overdue positive development at a Boston school, where parents and students have been fighting for years to get walls and doors for their classrooms.
In February, the NBC10 Investigators highlighted the challenging learning environment at the Blackstone Elementary School, and how kids felt worried about their safety.
The school in the city’s South End was built in the 1970s as an open-concept design. That means there are curtains separating the classroom.
Students said it can be noisy whenever people are in the hallway, making it tougher to learn. And in the age of active shooter drills, they also told us the setup doesn’t provide any sense of security.
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At a school committee meeting on Wednesday, district leaders announced they are proposing Blackstone for a state program that reimburses the costs for school construction projects.
For parents who have experienced years of broken promises, the development was reason for cautious optimism.
“I am excited this announcement has finally been made,” said Suleika Soto, a parent who has had two daughters attend Blackstone. “Thanks to NBC10 Boston for putting the story out there because I feel like it sort of lit a fire under them to try to make it happen sooner.”
The project is by no means a done deal, however.
Blackstone will compete with other proposals around the state, which are judged based on the level of need and urgency.
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The Massachusetts School Building Authority will review submissions over the summer and is expected to make decisions by the end of the year.
If approved, there would then be the timeline of designing and constructing a new school building.
“There is a plan, but not a promise,” said Will Austin with the Boston Schools Fund.
Still, after attending a long list of meetings and speaking out, Soto expressed pride the education equity issue is finally getting attention.
“My kids wouldn’t be able to enjoy it, but I’m glad we were a part of making this happen,” she said.