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Proposed innovation school clears hurdle in Somerville

The proposal for a new innovation school in Somerville cleared another major hurdle when the Somerville Teachers Association voted to ratify an agreement regarding the plan.

The Jan. 7 union vote activated a 60-day window for the School Committee to gather community input and then take a vote — set for March 4 — on whether to approve the proposed Powderhouse Studios high school.

State law allows for innovation schools, which operate within school districts but have certain autonomy to implement strategies for improving student performance and closing achievement gaps.

The Powderhouse Studios school proposal originated as a plan put forward by the local nonprofit sprout & co. in 2012. Since then, the group has worked with the district to fine-tune the plan. If approved, the school would open its doors in September, offering a new year-round option to Somerville students. According to proposal documents, it would enroll between 30 to 40 teens between the ages of 13 and 15 each year.

The school would operate in a portion of the former Powder House Community School, on Broadway, which is being redeveloped by MarKa LLC into a mixed-use property. In 2016, Powderhouse Studios was one of 10 national winners of the XQ Super School Project, which awarded a five-year, $10 million grant to each winning team to implement its project.


The Powderhouse Studios team held a public meeting Wednesday, Jan. 23, and has scheduled a second one for Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. at the West Somerville Neighborhood School, 177 Powder House Boulevard. That meeting will be followed by a community presentation on Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m at the Winter Hill Community Innovation School, 115 Sycamore St. For more information, go to www.somerville.k12.ma.us/powderhouse-proposal.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.