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Archdiocese, parents work to resolve fate of Brighton school building

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The Archdiocese of Boston agreed to allow the Presentation School Foundation 60 days in order to make an offer to buy the Brighton school that would include price and intended use of the building, according to Terrence C. Donilon, a spokesperson for the archdiocese.

"We've had two very good meetings with them," he said. "It was very evident that both sides want to move quickly to come to a final determination."

The first meeting on June 13 occurred after the archdiocese abruptly closed the school two days early and cancelled graduation ceremonies in order to prevent a rumored occupation of the building. Many parents were outraged, and the early shuttering caused protests as well as an impromptu graduation at Faneuil Hall, which was provided as the location by Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino.

"The archdiocese and the PSF will endeavor to achieve mutually agreeable terms and conditions for the sale of the Our Lady of Presentation school property to the PSF," said an archdiocesan statement, released after the second meeting on June 27.

"The archbishop pledged to make available all the resources of the archdiocese's real estate division to assist PSF during its due diligence phase in developing the formal offer," the release continued. "If the PSF and the archdiocese agree to a purchase and sale agreement, approvals will be required by the following archdiocesan committees: Finance Council, Real Estate Committee and the College of Consultors."

Donilon stressed that no final agreement has been reached to sell the building.

"It's still early," he said. "But I suspect they'll move quickly, we'll move as expeditiously as possible and then hopefully resolve this thing to everyone's liking."

The archdiocese wants to make sure that the intended use of the building does not include another school that would harm Catholic schools in the area, Donilon said. He added that sharing the space is not “off the table,” and there may be synergies in what the foundation would like to see there and the work of organizations like Catholic Charities.

"I think it's a matter of us just trying to come to a determination as to what their needs are and what our needs are," he said. "The archbishop has made it clear that he wants to resolve this so that both sides can move on. The intent is to do what's right for the archdiocese, to do what's right for the foundation, and do what's right for Allston-Brighton, do what's right for the city of Boston."

Our Lady of Presentation Parish was suppressed Aug. 30 last year, and the school was given a one-year reprieve to give families more time to find new placements for their children. The archdiocese initially rejected an offer from parents who founded the Presentation School Foundation to buy the school, which was never put up for sale. The proposal included establishing a preschool, elementary school, after school and summer programs, and adult education services.

The archdiocese announced instead that the building would be used to house offices from the Metropolitan Tribunal building on Lake Street, which will be sold to Boston College in June 2006. The agreement to sell the building, which also houses the Office of Religious Education, was reached last year when the archdiocese sold 43 acres of its Brighton campus to Boston College in order to fund the archdiocese’s settlement with more than 550 victims of clergy abuse.

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