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Advocate

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Stumbling blocks for proposed Pope John school site

Dear Editor:

  I am writing regarding the proposal for the City of Everett to acquire the former Pope John XXIII High School and convert it to a public elementary school. As a parent with children in the school system and home owner in the neighborhood, there are some major stumbling blocks that need to be addressed, sooner rather than later.

  For example, the Mass. Department of Education (DoE) will have enormous say in how a new public school like this shall be redesigned, renovated, configured, outfitted, staffed and operated. DoE mandates could add millions of dollars to the cost of the project. Has the Everett Superintendent of Schools or anyone in her office taken a good, hard look at these costs and are they willing to share those estimates with the public? If not, why not?

  Similarly, has anyone in a position of authority in the Everett public schools faced up to the fact that a number of private homes in the Pope John neighborhood may have to be acquired by eminent domain and razed to provide parking for administrators, teachers and support staff, as well as safe vehicular access to this repurposed facility? School leaders need to level with the neighbors about property takings. Would School Superintendent Tahiliani give up her $3 million dollar plus home in Brookline for a school in her neighborhood?

  As far as I can tell, no one who favors this proposal has been willing to talk publicly about the impacts of a new, fully enrolled elementary school on the intersection of Broadway and Lynn Street, already one of the busiest, most congested locations in the city. There could be a “Nightmare on Broadway” twice a day during student drop-off and pick-up periods unless extensive (and expensive) traffic mitigation measures were taken. Where will the money for that come from?

  These are just a few of the big questions that need answering before this proposal goes one step farther. Worried citizens of Everett, feel free to add to this list. Thank you.

Signed,

Name withheld due to fear of retaliation

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