Alma del Mar Celebrates Newly Constructed School in New Bedford
The Alma del Mar Charter School family is celebrating their relocation to a new facility. The new building on Belleville Avenue is a welcome new environment when compared to the decaying former Ottiwell School that Alma del Mar had occupied since 2010.
Alma del Mar Executive Director Will Gardner says the new building only adds to the character the school has displayed since day one. "We're home to a growing group of Alma scholars, who really consistently defy what many people still insist is an immutable correlation between income and academic achievement." said Gardner.
Mayor Jon Mitchell was on hand to celebrate, as well. Three years ago, Mayor Mitchell spoke out against the City on a Hill proposal for their charter school in New Bedford, and has shown criticism for how charter schools are funded. However, Mayor Mitchell tells WBSM News it's easier to support Alma del Mar since they have a smaller impact on the public school system. "This school is very well supported in the community. Not just New Bedford, but the surrounding communities. All of Greater New Bedford. And I support what they do," said Mitchell.
Charter schools in Massachusetts utilize public school funding on a "follow the child" formula, which allocates a specific amount of money for each child receiving an education in the charter school. Mitchell noted Alma del Mar does not have a grades 9-12 curriculum, and doesn't impede progress being made in the city at the high school level. "It's not a high school, so it's not detracting from New Bedford High School."
The 43,000 square foot building was constructed over the last 11 months. The $17 million building can accomodate 360 students, with 320 currently enrolled. The building was funded by bonds through Mass Development, federal tax credits, and private fundraising.