April 26, 2017: Update from Head of School Brendan Largay
In February I shared a community update on the exciting program and campus growth that is underway. I take this opportunity now to provide another update on our progress.
The Barn and driveway building project was submitted to the Planning Board of the Town of Belmont on April 6 and is currently under consideration. The next meetings of the Planning Board will take place on Tuesday, May 2 and Tuesday, May 16. I am hopeful and optimistic that the schedule for construction—beginning after summer camp programs end in late August with completion by fall of 2018—will move ahead as planned.
With major construction projects in residential areas, it is not unexpected to experience some turbulence throughout the process. As some of you may already know, a small group of neighbors has galvanized to raise objections to the driveway, in particular. The school is poised to respond to the questions and concerns of our neighbors and has taken, and will continue to take, steps to correct any misinformation our neighbors may have. To that end, Brit Dewey and I recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Belmont Citizen Herald. The Belmont Citizen Herald interviewed me, and a neighbor opposed to the project, for an article that will appear in the Thursday, April 27 edition about the driveway. This evening’s meeting for neighbors was designed to respond to questions and concerns, and to affirm the school’s commitment to being transparent about our plans. We are grateful to those of you who attended to support the school.
April 26, 2017: Neighbor Reception
Belmont Day neighbors are invited to join Head of School Brendan Largay to discuss the school's construction plans for The Barn and driveway. We are eager to hear the perspectives of our neighbors. The traffic and storm water reports that were filed along with the school's building application to the Town Planning Board are available on the Town of Belmont’s website.
Reply requested to Assistant to the Head, Neelangi Gunasekera at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are unable to attend the meeting and you have questions, please reach out to Brendan directly at email@example.com.
April 24, 2017: Letter to the Editor, Belmont Citizen Herald
In recent weeks, much has been made about Belmont Day School's development plans for the future. The school has submitted plans to the town's Planning Board for an approximately 25,000 square foot athletics and academic building that will provide increased curricular opportunities for students and for the campers who attend Belmont Day Summer Camps. Additionally, enrollment will modestly increase by 45 students over the next five years. The primary rationale for each of these developments is rooted in the experience of our students—growing enrollment over time and adding a new building allows the school to continue to offer more robust programming and to maintain the excellence in education that is promised through our mission. Finally, the school will add a driveway as a new, one-way point of ingress. The driveway answers two critically important needs: student safety and diverting BDS traffic off of Concord Avenue and Day School Lane and onto campus.
Last year, a winter storm caused a tree to fall across Day School Lane, knocking out power to the school and completely blocking passage for cars and emergency vehicles. As the Lane is currently the only point of access to the school, faculty and staff were forced to march students across Concord Avenue to the Belmont Hill Club in the storm for a remote afternoon dismissal—a harrowing experience for all parties involved. The addition of the driveway will provide a second point of access to campus and allow Day School Lane to become an egress route only for Belmont Day families. Keeping students safe is the most critical responsibility we have to our families and the driveway is necessary in helping us to achieve this goal. The driveway will also help to reduce the impact of traffic on Day School Lane by cutting in half the volume of vehicles that pass there each day. Read more.
April 9, 2017: Letter to the Editor, The Belmontonian
We are writing in response to a letter that appeared on your site on April 5 regarding Belmont Day School's proposed new building and driveway. As Belmont residents and Belmont Day School parents, we are very concerned that BDS's proposed building project has been unfairly and inaccurately portrayed in this letter. We should be clear that we are strongly in favor of BDS's plan for its new building, its modest enrollment expansion, and the new driveway. All of which are the result of careful, long-term, and inclusive planning that has included the entire BDS community and all of its near neighbors. The construction project BDS proposes results from several years of study and planning, driven by the school's programmatic needs. If Belmont Day School could accomplish its programmatic objectives without incurring the expense of a new building, it certainly would. However, in order to continue to offer the best possible educational opportunities it can, BDS has been forced by space constraints to plan and embark on this building project. BDS is emphatically not, as the letter printed on this site suggested, "driven to expansion due to growing funds and endowments." In fact, a project such as this represents a major financial burden for our small educational community.
We were, indeed, surprised to learn that the letter's authors just recently learned of the proposed plan, as they have all been invited to three separate community information events at the school and have received every communication the school has produced for its own current student and family community. Indeed, every neighbor within 300 feet of the school was invited to all of these events and a great many came. The claim that the neighborhood was not informed of BDS's plans and the implication that BDS was deliberately trying to be secretive in its planning could not be farther from the truth. BDS made repeated, good-faith efforts to engage its neighbors and has demonstrated considerable responsiveness to their concerns. Read more.
February 10, 2017: Update from Head of School Brendan Largay
It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that I provide this update to you. It is the upshot of a tremendous amount of work by faculty and countless other members of our community. As many of you already know, the board of trustees voted to approve an enrollment growth initiative last year that would add up to forty-five students in total to our sixth, seventh, and eighth grades over the course of the next four to five years, with approximately fifteen more students in each grade than are currently enrolled today. We would also add faculty to support this enrollment growth.
As with every decision at Belmont Day, this decision was the outcome of a thorough, lengthy, and rigorous decision-making process. It was informed by faculty and parents alike who have come to recognize—since the inception of our middle school in 2001—the need to balance our commitment to small, nurturing experiences for our younger students with more robust experiences that support the social-emotional development of our older students, and the chance for broader curricular offerings due to an increased student and faculty body. Similarly, faculty are already considering the vast ways that more students will afford us the opportunity to explore innovative and dynamic curriculum throughout the grades. Read more.
The board—in collaboration with administrators, faculty, families, and friends—is engaged in focused planning for the short- and long-term future of Belmont Day School. This work began in earnest in 2011 with the development of a master plan for the school and its facilities and it has thoughtfully evolved. Please read our recent community update on the progress of our initiatives.
Our Making Change mailing included a letter from Belmont Day School Board of Trustees President Karen Liesching. The letter provided important information on board initiatives, including the head of school search and transition, facility expansion, planning task force work, and capital campaign plans. Several members of the board attended the PA meeting on February 12, 2016 to answer questions you may have about the exciting and ambitious work that is underway.
Community forums were held on Friday, March 18 at 8:30 a.m. in Coolidge Hall; Tuesday, March 22 at 8 a.m. in the Erskine Library; Wednesday, March 30 at 4:30 p.m. in Coolidge Hall; and Thursday, March 31 at 7 p.m. in Coolidge Hall.