Saturday, February 14, 2009

McKay to B.F. Brown?

OK, right off the bat, I have a vested interest in this one, with SF Thing 1 at the McKay School for kindergarten, and likely Thing 2 following her in a couple of years. The future of the McKay is important at the SF Mansion.

So, it didn't go unnoticed that School Committee member James Reynolds is talking about moving the McKay School to a renovated B.F. Brown Building.

At the crux, as in the past, is the nearly $1 million the city pays for rent to FSC for the McKay. Holy crap! $1 million! That's outrageous.

Is it?

I don't really know the answer, but I do know it would cost $5 million to renovate B.F. Brown (according to the super), so it might be awhile. But it's a good reminder that rent is out there.

So, is the city getting $1 million out of that rent? Again, I don't know, but consider:

Principal John Early is consider an associate dean at FSC, and the college pays at least part of its salary.

The electricity and heat are paid for.

The daily a.m. and p.m. police details at the parking lot entrance on Rindge Road are FSC.

FSC may handle custodian duties, and they certainly handle building repair and upkeep.

We toured all four elementary schools last spring. Far and away, McKay was in the best shape of all of them. It wasn't the deciding factor for us, but it certainly was a factor after Thing 1 went to school some days at South Street without heat. It was noticeable.

I guess the unknowable is, how much is the city saving on not owning and having to keep up another building? Consider this: According to my math, the city has $10 million in school repair projects on the stimulous wish list. That doesn't count B.F. Brown, which is in there. You can only assume at this point that if the city was running another school building, it would need repairs there, as well.

In some ways, it might not really matter for Thing 1 or Thing 2. They'd stay at McKay, or they'd get a renovated B.F. Brown (in theory). But before there's an overwhelming chorus of "Hey, $1 million in rent? WTF," there should be consideration as to whether or not it's a fair deal to the city. It's easy to get all fired up over the numbers, but is reality different from the dollar signs?

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