School Department Plans Structure, Space Updates at Consentino

Superintendent James F. Scully.

In the next few weeks, school officials expect to reveal plans for a project to address space and structural issues at the Albert B. Consentino School on Washington Street.

Superintendent James F. Scully said a team from Shawmut Design & Construction, which built the new Hunking School, recommended that the city focus on Consentino to address crowding issues that are especially severe in the Washington Street area, including the Tilton, J.G. Whittier and Consentino schools.

“There is overcrowding in the Tilton-Consentino neighborhood. That’s been an ongoing issue. That’s the Polaroid picture today,” he said,

Scully said the city is looking at the scope of work needed at Consentino and will have a proposal ready long before the April 7 deadline to submit a request for funding from the state School Building Authority.

But the timeline from proposal to funding to construction can be years long, so school officials will be forced to find ways to ease crowding while they develop and advocate a Consentino construction plan.

One method to equalize middle-grade student numbers is to create theme schools in each of the city’s middle schools, Scully suggested.

For example, the new Hunking School in Bradford is being developed as a technology school, and the Nettle Middle School will focus on languages.

Roughly two classrooms’ worth of students with an affinity for technology will move out of Consentino next year and into Hunking. That will eliminate 60 students, Scully said. About 100 middle school students, citywide, who have an aptitude in languages, will move to the Nettle School.

The superintendent warned that simply moving students from one school to the other is not a magical way of creating open space where there is none.

“The only empty classroom in the entire city is at Silver Hill,” Scully said, referring to the charter school located on Washington Street behind Consentino School.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini cautioned against “building a church for Easter Sunday,” saying the city’s school population is down about 800 students from a decade ago, though the numbers have rebounded somewhat over the past four years.

Scully said every inch of space is being used in every school, including former storage closets that have been retrofitted for use as small-group instruction rooms.

4 thoughts on “School Department Plans Structure, Space Updates at Consentino

  1. Maybe it’s time the charter was ended. The school demographics do not reflect those of the district. And when looking at test scores the past few years, they have been on a steady decline. They are not meeting their targets and their annual progress and performance index has decreased every year since 2013. It was 100 then, in 2016 it dropped to 38, leaving their culmulative index at 58, the previous school year was 80. The target is 75. They would no longer be a Level 1 school. It is only because schools were held harmless due to the transition to PARCC that they retain this status.

  2. Just curious – why is Silver Hill used as a charter school? Wasn’t it initially built for the kids in the Mount Washington neighborhood?

    • Silver Hill – I was one of the original staff in 1993 – was a failing school in 2005-2006 when I became Principal. Superintendent Raleigh Buchanan had me explore applying for a $500,000 dollar grant and submit to oversight by the DESE as a Horace Mann Charter School thus saving the city the funds to bring the school up to standards. Otherwise, SH would then have gone under state receivership and the city would be responsible for funding the training for staff and any other expenses. As a HM Charter, all staff remains within the city. Also, the student turnover was very high as a 55% Free-reduced lunch population. Currently SHHMCS has 580 students – more than Penn Lake or Golden Hill – Grades K-5 with 5 FREE All-Day Kindergartens. If the school system needs more students to be served we can increase our enrollment to 615 with an amendment. At the time I became Principal we were past capacity at 615 which we can look at again if the city needs coverage.We are a city school staffed by city teachers paid by the city.
      Euthemia Gilman
      Founding Director
      Chair of the Board of Trustees SHHMCS