At a recent community meeting, Excel Academy Charter School Executive Director Owen Stearns and Excel’s Pat Forbest and Dan Mills laid out the plans to expand the High School on Bremen Street to include a middle school.
The plan includes building the new middle school facility over the current parking lot at Excel Academy High School. Most of the parking spaces in the lot, which is between the school and the Bremen Street Branch Library, will remain and the schools plans to lease additional off site spaces to accommodate for teacher and staff parking.
The expansion is part of Excel’s 2014 plan to accommodate the growing student population.
Excel opened first a middle school in Eastie in 2003, a second middle school in Chelsea in 2011, a third middle school in Orient Heights in 2012 and the neighborhood’s first charter high school on Bremen Street in 2016.
“This month we will see the first 100 graduating class of seniors from our high school,” said Stearns. “Excel has educated approximately 2,000 students in Grades 5-12 since 2003.”
Stearns said the expansion of the high school facility to include a middle school is Phase 3 of the school’s plan outlined in 2014.
This plan will increase the student population from 896 to 924 and increase the school’s footprint on Bremen Street from 71,000 square feet to 79,500 square feet.
According to Forbest and Mills, traffic studies have been conducted regarding bus and car traffic.
At the meeting the Excel team also laid out its transportation and traffic management plan. The school plans to increase the number of staff managing flow of bus/auto queue. Increase number of staff to manage student pedestrian activity on both sides of Bremen Street. Cars will be assigned to specific pick-up and drop-off areas. Excel agrees to pay a fine for any parent blocking driveways and will ask BTD to supply meter maids as necessary. The school will Increase communication with parents on policies, install school zone signage and change to staggered arrival times if traffic becomes too much of an issue in the mornings.
Forbest said the school would also improve residential access to Excel parking lot when school is not in session. Lot signage will be revised to indicate available parking for library patrons and neighbors from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m. every day. However, any non-Excel car that remains past 6 a.m. may be towed.
On weekends and statewide holidays when public schools are closed, neighbors will be able to park in the lot during normal school hours.
“For evening or weekend events which necessitate utilizing the parking lot, the lot will be closed and Excel will post on Twitter and Facebook announcing the hours the lot will be closed for special events and state that any cars parked will be towed,” said Forbest. “In addition, sandwich boards will be posted at the entrance and exit of the parking lot listing the days/times the lot will be closed and when cars will be towed.”
During inclement weather no parking will be allowed in the lot when cars could impede snow removal.
Back in 2017 Excel expanded the footprint of the high school to give the senior class more classroom and flex space as they take electives and advanced placement classes.
The school added 2,500 sq. ft. in the rear of the building near the East Boston Greenway, which resulted in roughly a 10-percent increase in the building’s overall size.
The addition had no impact on the Greenway or Greenway access. There was some concerns of runoff from the building due to flooding problems along the Greenway closer to Jeffries Point and the school’s close proximity to the neighborhood park system. However, the school, which is LEED certified, uses a system of storm water storage that traps that slowly release storm water from the building after heavy rain.
Formerly the site of Paul’s Park and Fly, the last of the park and fly companies that once dotted Bremen Street, the $25 million Excel High School was built on stretch of land that now includes a state of the art library and the sprawling 18-acre Bremen Street Park,
The new two-acre campus includes the main building, community rooms, a cafeteria, gymnasium, office space, and support space. The school also includes a 30-car pick up and drop off area, a dedicated bus pull off area, a 50-space parking lot for faculty and visitors, and a 24,100 square-foot outdoor student courtyard.