New schools raise traffic concerns

SOUTH ST.—One of two schools opening next week in the former Agassiz building at 20 Child St. will use a Carolina Avenue entrance for drop-off and pick-up for the first time, raising traffic concerns among local residents, who include state Rep. Liz Malia.

Boston Public Schools (BPS) will hold a meeting tomorrow, Aug. 28, to explain the plan and address any concerns. It is slated for 6:30 p.m. at English High School, 144 McBride St.

Meanwhile, construction crews are working frantically inside the building to have the Margarita Muñiz Academy and Mission Hill K-8 School ready for the first day of school on Sept. 6. As it happens, the state primary election will be held that same day, with the building as a local polling place.

The Mission Hill K-8 will use the Carolina Avenue entrance, while the Muñiz Academy will use the Child Street entrance formerly used for years by Agassiz Elementary School students prior to that building’s closure last year, according to BPS spokesperson Matt Wilder. He said that the two entrances are intended to separate the younger students and the freshman high-schoolers of the Muñiz Academy.  That move was suggested earlier by Mission Hill K-8 parents, as the Gazette previously reported.

Malia and local City Councilor Matt O’Malley both expressed concerns that the plan could cause traffic blockages on Carolina due to the large number of school buses.

Malia, who lives on Child Street, said she has heard confusion and concerns from local residents about the traffic plan. She noted that for the past several years, Child Street was shut down for 90 minutes in the morning and afternoon to allow for safe school bus use. There are concerns of similar impact on Carolina, and little notice from BPS, she said.

“I’ve gotten emails from residents who say it’s crazy,” Malia said. “It’s really poor public relations.”

O’Malley said that he was surprised to hear about the use of Carolina Avenue only recently. “I didn’t even think they would entertain the thought of having separate openings,” he said.

“The good news is that we are going to monitor this over the first two weeks of school and see what kind of impact it’s having on the neighborhood,” Wilder said, adding that the use of the entrances is not “set in stone” and could change. He said that flyers about the move were left at local homes. As for Child Street, most Muñiz Academy students will not arrive by school bus, he said.

As for the additional impact of Election Day, Wilder said that BPS is working with the City’s Election Department and does not expect major issues. He advised voters to “give themselves a couple extra minutes” if they will be seeking parking spaces near a polling place inside a public school.

For more on the schools coming to the Agassiz building, see the Aug. 31 Gazette.

Corrected version: This version corrects previous BPS information that reversed the details of which school would use which entrance.

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