Kipp School project opposed by two groups

November 1, 2010
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Two groups are attempting to stop the KIPP Academy from buying the VFW Post 507 property on High Rock Street in an attempt to stop Kipp from building there.

Kipp announced some months ago that they would be buying the defunct VFW Post property and would be building a $25 million educational facility that KIPP would like to open in September 2012.

David Gass, leader of the Highlands Coalition, claims the VFW property abuts historic Highrock Tower Park, and as such, should not be used to build on.

“The VFW property abuts the new Kipp campus,” Gas said. “High Rock Tower Park has been identified as a Historically Important Landscape by the State Historic Resource,” he added.

Josh Zoia, Kipp’s founder and executive director in Lynn believes that assessment to be largely flawed and especially so with regard to the land’s historic value.

In a letter to the Lynn Journal, Gas and others noted the Highlands is among the city’s oldest neighborhoods and already has lost too much of its architectural history.

“The stunning mansions of the shoe barons, the two and three traditional family style housing, which enabled families to produce a secondary income stream, have been lost to investors and speculators. This site is important because it is the place where Native Americans once dwelled, Spiritualists rallied during the age of Enlightenment, where abolitionists decried the practice of slavery and factory workers cried out for protections of labor unions,” the Highlands Coalition wrote.

Zoia was respectful of the challenge but took issue with the Highlands Coalition.

He said the academy had already received a building permit from the city.

“If it was a historic site, the permit could never have been issued,” he said.

Gas said he wasn’t against charter schools. He said that KIPP had done a good job with its students.

He is right about that.

Reading scores and achievement of nearly every kind at every level is higher at the KIPP School than in corresponding grades in the public schools.

The academy specializes in a longer, fuller school day. Ninety percent of its students come from low-income families.

Construction of the KIPP School is scheduled to begin November 15.

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