New School, Familiar LocationMarch 6, 2015 | by Brooke Willmes
St. Anne’s school was founded in 1845 and was a place where many older Olde Richmond, Flat Iron, and Fishtown residents sent their kids to Catholic school. Since its closing, there have been many proposed plans for what would replace the school. Plans included new condos, apartments or a mix of housing and offices like the converted warehouses at 2424 York St. Many residents oppose these ideas because of what St. Anne’s meant to the community.
Finally, residents have a proposal that they can get behind, turning the shuttered school back into a school…but not just a school: one that will treat special needs students. NHS Human Services will be leasing the former school building at Cedar and Tucker Street for the purpose of operating an NHS School. The new school will serve special needs student ranging in ages from 4 years to 21 years. Unlike many other community zoning meetings, residents did not have to vote on variances for the proposal because the NHS plans to use the building as an educational facility: one of the uses permitted as a right by the zoning of the site. NHS has already been granted a license from the State Board of Private Academic Schools to offer special education services. The license is renewable each year and NHS plans to open in the Fall.
At the zoning meeting, residents voted 59-9 in favor of the school. The new school will be the 19th school to open within the last 10 years by the NHS. Its students give back to the communities, volunteer at local animal shelters, food banks, Goodwill Stores and are a positive influence to the neighborhoods. Local families of special needs students must work with the school district of their child to gain entry to the NHS School at St. Anne’s. Students must be referred to the school and NHS does not control which students are accepted. This is huge win for the community who have tried endlessly to bring back a school to the old building.