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Zoning Board approves plan for Brooke Charter School conversion of former Dom Savio High

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  February 26, 2013 02:32 PM

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Brooke Charter School EB.jpg

Edward W. Brooke Charter School

A prospective view of the Dom Savio High School building expanded for re-use as a new Edward W. Brooke Charter School site. The new wing is in the foreground, with the old Savio School building at rear on the left.

The Boston Zoning Board of Appeal on Tuesday unanimously approved a proposal from the Edward W. Brooke Charter School for renovation and expansion of the former St. Dominic Savio Preparatory High School building in East Boston.

The redevelopment of the former Catholic school at the corner of Horace and Byron streets will include a renovation of the existing building; construction of a three-story, 13,100-square-foot addition on its Byron Street side; and demolition of the Salesians of Don Bosco rectory and an adjacent Bennington Street building, also owned by the Catholic order, where a playground will be built.

The zoning board was the project’s final major hurdle before work could begin, and it met with no community opposition at Tuesday’s public hearing. The Boston Redevelopment Authority approved the plan on Feb. 14.

Jeffrey R. Drago, an attorney for the charter school, said at City Hall on Tuesday that neighbors had embraced the plan to re-use the building as a school.

“It’s very well received because it keeps an educational use on the site and it allows the Salesians Boys & Girls Club to continue their mission,” Drago said.

An earlier proposal to convert the building to condominiums met with community resistance.

The Salesians rectory will relocate to a site across Byron Street from the school, adjacent to the Boys & Girls Club, Drago said. Dom Savio High School was founded by the Salesians in 1958 and closed in 2007 after community efforts to save it were unsuccessful.

Jon Clark, co-director of the Brooke network of charter schools, said it had always planned to have a presence in East Boston and was happy to have set up a temporary space in the neighborhood last year, at 189 Paris St., and to be making progress toward the conversion of the Dom Savio building.

“We love it,” Clark said. “We love the neighborhood; we love the families; we love the kids, and we’re looking forward to being there in our permanent home.”

The East Boston school is the third Boston location for the Brooke Charter Schools, after Roslindale and Mattapan, and will include space for 475 students. Construction is expected to begin in May and to be completed in time for the 2014 – 2015 school year.

Clark said the school had an agreement with the Salesians that would allow it to use the gymnasium in the Boys & Girls Club when not otherwise in use and would allow the Salesians to use the playground at the Brooke School when students were not using it.

The proximity would also make it easy for Brooke students to participate in the Boys & Girls Club’s other programs, Clark said.

“Father John has a great after-school program. We’re excited that our families will have access to that,” Clark said. “It just worked out really well. A lot of synergies.”

Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow East Boston on Twitter: @YourEastBoston.

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