Last week, the Notre Dame Education Center abruptly closed its doors. The school’s English-as-a-second-language (ESOL)and adult basic education (ABE) classes for roughly 400-plus students was shut down. As a result 15 full- and part-time teachers lost their jobs. Two of those teachers are nuns from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur – the original founders of the center. Both the students and faculty were locked out of the school without notice. According to the Boston Globe, they ended up holding classes at the Ironworkers Local 7 across the street.
Due to overhead costs, the NDEC board decided to shutter the programs. Originally the center was suppose to close on June 12th for two years to start construction to transform the building into a large development with room on the ground floor for the school.
To refresh your memory, last summer, the Boston Planning Development Agency approved the plans for 200 Old Colony Ave to replace the Notre Dame Education Center with a six-story building complete with 49 residential units and 9,500 square ground-floor space for the education center. Many residents of South Boston showed support for this project based on the fact that NDEC would reopen to provide education and support services be preserved.
The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur bought the property at 200 Old Colony Ave back in 2017 for $4.5 million. They teamed up with a developer to build a new building with condos and space on the ground level for the education center – which when all was said and done they would own, free and clear.
So what happened?
According to Mary Rose Durante, the executive director and CEO of the program, it is the board’s intent to eventually reinstate the ESOL & ABE programs and a space in the neighborhood has been found to continue the youth education and workforce readiness classes.
“In two years the new space will be completed, but much will be needed to operate at optimum ability. The practical steps we take today will allow us to pursue funding and raise the necessary grants and contributions to run a quality education center in South Boston for years to come,” said Durante via email.
Most of the classes offered at the center are free of charge and the school relies on funds from the state. Notre Dame received $878,000 in state funds for in-person education this past fiscal year.
According to the Globe, the center is suppose to receive another $840,000 in July. But obviously that may not happen because of the abrupt closure at the school. An option being floated out there is that Julie’s Family Learning Program may take over the mission of NCED.
Durante claims that the mission of the school to help provide education services to the neighborhood will continue during and after the development is built.
Councilor Ed Flynn, who opposed the project last year at the zoning board due to neighbors concerns with size of project, parking and quality of life issues said, “It is critical that English language access and adult basic education programs be made available to our residents. The South Boston elected officials continue to work in both the short term and long term to help identify locations to resume these crucial services and programs.”
So do you think the neighborhood was duped into supporting the plan that the educational center would in fact continue serving the community of South Boston during and after the construction of a new building? You be the judge. Let us know in the comments below.
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