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Excel Academy Charter School Secures Permanent Home in East Boston Thanks to $5 Million MassDevelopment Bond

October 4, 2011

Kelsey Abbruzzese, MassDevelopment, 617-330-2086 & 617-448-9077
Jennifer Boyle, Excel Academy, 617-680-7937

MassDevelopment has issued $5 million in bonds on behalf of Friends of Excel Academy Charter Schools, Inc., a nonprofit affiliate of Excel Academy Charter Schools. The organization used bond proceeds from the Qualified Zone Academy Bond (QZAB) and tax-exempt bond issue to purchase from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston a 19,210-square-foot school building that formerly housed the St. Mary of the Sea School and an adjacent convent building in East Boston. The property will serve as the permanent home for the organization’s first school that has operated in East Boston since 2003.

Excel’s plans call for the demolition of the existing convent, the complete renovation of the existing school building, and the construction of a 2,000-square-foot addition. The new building will offer more traditional school amenities including larger classrooms, a 1,500-square-foot multi-purpose space, designated space for a computer lab, and elements designed to support special education, English-language learner populations, and extra-curricular programming. Construction is slated to begin in October, and the new location will open for the 2012-13 school year. Boston Private Bank & Trust Company purchased the bonds.

“In less than a decade, Excel Academy has received high marks for its college prep curriculum,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones. “The School hopes to open more facilities in the coming years to meet growing demand, and this financing puts Excel on track to expand its rigorous programs.”

Excel Academy Charter School is a tuition-free public middle school serving more than 200 students in grades five through eight. Most students are from East Boston and Chelsea, and speak a language other than English at home. Excel Academy is the highest-performing urban middle school in Massachusetts based on its students’ average advanced and proficient scores across all subjects, according to the 2011 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) data released last week.

“We’re excited to provide a permanent home closer to the heart of East Boston, and to better integrate the community we serve,” said Excel Academy Charter Schools CEO Dai Ellis. “We are grateful for the opportunity to acquire this facility and to help turn what used to be a community school building back to its original purpose. This, in addition to our students' outstanding recently released MCAS results, marks a period of great momentum for Excel in East Boston.”

MassDevelopment issues QZABs for school renovations and upgrades in certain qualified school districts. QZABs can be issued as either taxable bonds with a direct subsidy from the U.S. government or as tax-credit bonds whereby the federal government provides a tax credit to the bondholder in lieu of the issuer paying interest to the bondholder, making these bonds the equivalent of interest-free financing.

MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, works with businesses, nonprofits, financial institutions, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the Commonwealth. During FY2011, MassDevelopment financed or managed 277 projects generating investment of nearly $3.7 billion in the Massachusetts economy. These projects are projected to create 10,291 jobs (2,507 permanent and 7,784 construction) and 1,350 housing units (336 new and 1,014 rehab).

Founded in 2003, Excel Academy Charter Schools is a network of tuition-free, public middle schools serving East Boston and Chelsea. Their mission is to prepare students to succeed in high school and college, apply their learning to solve critical problems, and engage productively in their communities. Excel Academy has achieved outstanding results and has become an education destination for families seeking a better future for their children. With the passage of the recent education reform law in Massachusetts, Excel has announced its intent to expand its reach through replication in the Boston area. Excel has just opened its second middle school in Chelsea in 2011 and has been awarded a charter to open a school for grades 5 through 12 in Boston in 2012. For more information, please visit the school’s website at www.excelacademy.org.