Warren-Prescott to Expand
Driven by a demand for more seats, the K-8 school is acquiring more space and an additional building.
The Warren-Prescott School is too popular. That's why, with parent initiative and administration support, the school has acquired an adjacent property, is currently renovating it, and plans to move in sometime in January.
"It was a collective idea. Parents were looking for ways to increase the number of students accepted to Warren-Prescott," said Dr. Domenic Amara, the principal. Students are regularly placed on waiting lists to get into the school, which has become quite popular in recent years.
The Holden School across the street from Warren-Prescott merged with Compass School in Dorchester in 2007 and eventually moved out of the building in 2009. The folks at Warren-Prescott took this as an opportunity to expand.
"[Mayor Thomas M. Menino] was very instrumental. He responded to the school's request and the parent's request. Parent participation was key," said Amara.
"The parents are very passionate and involved with what happens at the school and in the community," agreed Matthew Wilder, a representative for Boston public schools. Parents at Warren-Prescott are used to building from the ground up, however. Recently, several parents hosted an in-home meeting for prospective parents where they talked about why they send their kids to Warren-Prescott.
"Parents bring up an idea and the administration doesn't feel threatened by parent involvement," said Jane Reitz, a parent who hosted the event in her home.
Renovations at the Holden School
Remodeling crews have gutted the new building, and are digging up floors and installing computer wiring in preparation for students to start classes there in mid-January. The funding for the project is coming from city of Boston and Boston public schools, according to Amara.
The space is going to house Warren-Prescott's seventh and eighth grades and will have six classrooms for a total of about 125 students. Warren-Prescott's two upper level classes of autistic children will also use the building. The space won't have any extra facilities, such as computer labs, just the classrooms. But the students will have laptops.
Though Boston Public Schools is facing serious budget issues, Warren-Prescott has received attention as a school worth investing in. "We're always looking for ways to grow our successful programs," said Wilder.
With the expansion, Amara hopes to attract more students, especially ones who are interested in pursuing high academic goals. At the in-home meeting, however, he assured parents that he wants to both increase the academic rigor, but also provide for students who are not ready. This property expansion is part of Amara's broader plans.
His ultimate goal, however, is a school without walls. "There are other ways to learn," Amara said. He wants to establish more connections with Charlestown High School, such as using some of their facilities, and working to establish academic pathways between the schools, so students can move from one school to the next with ease.
Both Amara and local parents agree that a building across the street balances different priorities well. While offering more room for classes, it does not distance the older students from the rest of the school, even though they will be in a separate building.
"We can still maintain that community, maintain that same Warren-Prescott family," said Amara.