#students | #parents | Dorchester students, teachers fight to keep McCormack ball fields

A crowd of students, teachers and Dorchester residents filled Wednesday night’s Boston School Committee meeting to speak out against a proposed field house that would be built on the poorly-maintained John W. McCormack Middle School playing fields, potentially robbing students and community members of open field space.

“When people don’t ask us what we want and need in our land it feels disrespectful,” said Manny Nova, a freshman at the Community Academy of Science and Health.

Rosalye Mejia, an eighth-grader at McCormack, said “In my neighborhood I can’t go outside, which makes me feel like my childhood is restrained and fun is limited. But at school I can go outside and have fun.”

The ongoing dispute, which surfaced over a year ago, is being led by the Harbor Point Community Task Force, which said via their pro-bono lawyer Laura Carroll that they felt left out of the request for proposal process.

The process opened up in June 2019 following a May 2018 resolution from the School Committee that stated it was intended to “benefit students at the Dever and the McCormack schools.”

The resolution said BPS and the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development would “actively seek student, school, and community input and involvement to inform the drafting of the RFP.”

The RFP received only one response, which was from the Dorchester Boys & Girls Club and the Martin Richard Foundation, which plan to build an indoor athletic facility.

Community members present at Wednesday’s meeting urged School Committee members not to accept the proposal.

In a letter submitted to the school committee Wednesday night, Carroll wrote, “To our knowledge, no effort was made by BPS (or DND) to obtain any input from the HPCTF or the Dever or McCormack schools. Nor was HPTCF informed when the RFP was prepared and issued.”

Neema Avashia, a McCormack teacher for 16 years, said, “There is no communication, no shared vision and no expressed commitment to the student voice in the DND process around the McCormack land.”

Following the comment period, mostly given by students, School Committee members did not respond, but rather moved onto their scheduled action items for the evening.

However before the remarks, School Committee Member Michael O’Neill said “We did specifically air the condition that the HPCTF and the McCormack community would be listened to and would be part of the planning process,” of the RFP, acknowledging that those groups felt slighted.

Quality Education for Every Student said in a statement it is concerned about the broken promises made by the School Committee about the fields. “It’s another example of a troubling lack of transparency in how building and facilities decisions are being made.”

McCormack Middle School and Paul A. Dever Elementary school will soon undergo reconfiguration, restructuring the middle school to be a 7-12 school and Dever will have kindergarten through sixth-grade students.

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