The Nativity Prep proposal was spearheaded by Barry Hynes, a former Boston city councilor who has helped start Nativity Preps in Boston and New Bedford. He said the Salem school was going to be similar to the middle school in New Bedford, which was founded in 2000 by a group of lay Catholics.
Hynes and other supporters had met with Catholic church leaders on the North Shore and in Boston, and also with Mayor Kim Driscoll and Salem School Superintendent Stephen Russell.
“I’m just kind of disappointed we weren’t able to come to an agreement with them on the building,” Hynes said. “It’s a wonderful location. We could have done a nice job with that building.”
The Nativity Prep proposal faced some opposition on the North Shore, including from a few local church leaders, who reportedly feared the independent Catholic school would take students and resources away from parish schools in this region. Others reportedly raised concerns about a new independent Catholic school opening before Salem’s parish collaborative had a chance to draw its own plans for the future.
Under the Nativity Prep model proposed for Salem, students would go to school for free but both they and their parents would be required to help clean the school and perform other duties. The school would have 15 students in a grade who would be required to wear shirts and ties and attend school from 7:30 a.m. until dinnertime. Students would return in the evening for a mandatory study period.
The school would hire a principal, but would be staffed by a “volunteer” faculty of recent college graduates who would receive a small weekly stipend, room and board and health insurance, according to school backers.
“I think there would have been a lot of local support,” said Lucy Corchado, president of The Point Neighborhood Association.
While conceding there were a “lot of unknowns,” Corchado said it was an appealing concept. “Here’s an opportunity for low-income, under-privileged kids to get a private education for free, and for (the Archdiocese) to kind of turn that down was surprising to me.”
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.