The news last week by Superintendent Paul Dakin that the new Hill School will be at capacity before it even opens (possibly in September 2015) has come as a shock to most residents and city officials.
Revere has a history of building new schools that are at capacity as soon as they open, such as the Whelan School and Paul Revere School.
The simple solution to some may be to just build new schools. However, one also can look at today’s school needs as representing just a temporary spike in student enrollment. There are new schools throughout the state that have been built and completed, but never opened when the school population dropped quickly. In Revere itself, the student population dropped precipitously in the 1980s when the last of the Baby Boomers (who were born in 1964 graduated), resulting in the closing and disposition of many school buildings by the city.
Predicting demographic trends always is a tricky business, especially in a community such as ours where we have a history of influxes of large immigrant populations. Moreover, before a new school is approved for construction, city officials should look at the grand vision for Revere and consider how much land is still to be developed and where and what will be built on these sites.
If one looks at the Revere Beach development, one can see more apartment complexes that will attract both single residents and families. Demographics also need to be taken into account. How many single family houses are now being occupied by people whose children have grown and what will happen to these large single-family homes when they are sold?
Lastly, if Boston is unable to solve its affordable housing crisis, where will these middle class families who have been priced out of the Boston housing market be moving?
To predict the future trends is likened to looking into a very cloudy crystal ball, but Revere officials must attempt to answer these questions and others, such as revisions to the zoning ordinances, before we rush into building more schools.