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Anova School signs lease for vacant city building

Posted by Alix Roy  May 26, 2010 10:04 AM

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The Anova School will pay $25,000 per year to rent a portion of the vacant Beebe School and provide 25 hours of professional development for Melrose teachers, according to a lease agreement with the city approved by the School Committee Tuesday night.

The Anova School, a private school for gifted and talented students, will occupy the first floor of the school building, with the exception of a kindergarten classroom used for the city's after-school program.
 
According to School Business Manager Greg Zammuto, Anova representatives proposed the amount as the maximum they could afford for the space.
 
“I tried to get more, but again they came back to say no,” he said to the Committee, adding that no other parties have come forward since to express interest in leasing the space.
 
The Beebe School commanded a rent of $225,000 from the Melrose YMCA, who leased the entire building from the city for its after-school programs up until last August, Zammuto said. Since then, the city has paid roughly $50,000 per year to keep up the empty building, he said.
 
School Committee member Don Constantine likened the agreement to “planting a seed,” urging the committee to focus on long-term plans for the building. For the time being, any additional revenue the space can provide is positive, he said.
 
“I look at this and yes, we'd love to get a better financial windfall from leasing this building,” he said. “But we have no other alternative.”

School Committee Chairwoman Margaret Driscoll agreed, adding that a presence in the school would be a positive step for the surrounding neighborhood and local businesses.
 
Recent discussions surrounding the Anova School have centered on Superintendent Joseph Casey's disclosure of a conflict of interest concerning his sister's employment at the school. The Committee voted earlier this month to accept his disclosure and allow Casey to continue negotiations with Anova after receiving a written opinion from the state Ethics Commission.
 
On Tuesday, former city solicitor David Lucas appeared before the committee to offer clarification on the decision, which drew criticism from one board member who said the topic should be considered closed.
 
“I find myself perplexed and a little angry at this discussion right now,” said committee member JD LaRock. “To me this matter has been settled and I think we should move on from this ethics discussion to schools and the children.”

According to Lucas, City Solicitor Robert Van Campen requested his presence at the meeting, which he couldn't attend himself. Van Campen was present during previous discussions related to Casey's disclosure and submitted the state Ethics Commission inquiry at the request of the board.

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