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Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, by Eliot Baker

New School, Strong Wings Merger Finalized by $1.25 Million State Bond

January 21, 2010

The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, also known as MassDevelopment, has provided the private Nantucket New School $1.25 million in tax-exempt bonds to help finalize its merger with the Strong Wings Adventure School in a move that head of New School David Provost said will strengthen both organizations.

“The bond is essentially a mortgage we got through MassDevelopment,” said Provost. “It is the final step in the merger. We have re-structured the financial operation and what the bond will help us do is eliminate the remaining debt on the Strong Wings facility, as well as address some new initiatives as far as the next strategic plan for the organization.”

Tax-exempt bonds avoid federal and sometimes state taxes, and must be sold to support projects such as 501(c)3 nonprofit real estate, affordable rental housing, and municipal and government entities. The tax-free bonds will not be used to expand the facilities of the New School and Strong Wings, which are now collectively known as the Parents Cooperative of Nantucket, said Provost.

“We're not building anything, just taking care of stuff,” he said. Provost said the New School entered into a relationship with Strong Wings several years ago, leasing classroom space and utilizing the physical and outdoor education programs of the neighboring organization on Nobadeer Farm Road. In October 2008, Provost said talks started about a more formal partnership and by last January the New School assumed responsibility for managing Strong Wings' programs. The New School and Strong Wings officially merged in September.

“The idea behind the merger is to strengthen the programming and the delivery of the mission for each organization so there's mutual benefit for both the Strong Wings program and the New School programs,” Provost said.

Strong Wings serves children attending all island schools and hosts after-school programs and summer camps that provide physical education and teambuilding programming. The merger has combined the two entities into a six-acre campus that serves the New School's 165 students and hundreds more island youth.

“The New School had begun to outgrow our building at 15 Nobadeer Farm Road, so the Strong Wings building has been welcome additional space,” said Provost. “We've expanded our physical-education and teambuilding programs at the New School now that we have access at the Strong Wings facility, which means stronger, more stable operations for Strong Wings and a healthy organizational engine behind their programs.”

The Nantucket New School is accredited through the National Association of Independent Schools. Its physical-education component balances a core academic and arts curriculum that is also committed to educating children and families on the changing landscape of technology, said Provost.

The tax-free MassDevelopment bond will have no effect on curriculum or tuition.

“Frankly, one of the things that we're really proud of in terms of the merger is that it has not changed in essence either program, but has rather made each portion of the program stronger and given us more opportunity to grow and develop,” he said.

According to its website, MassDevelopment works with businesses, nonprofits, and local, state and federal agencies to strengthen the Massachusetts economy. Created in 1998 when the state legislature merged the Massachusetts Government Land Bank with the Massachusetts Industrial Finance Agency, MassDevelopment serves as a lender and developer to privateand public-sector clients to stimulate economic growth.

From FY 2004 through FY 2008, MassDevelopment financed or managed more than 900 projects in 190 communities statewide representing an investment of more than $9.4 billion in Massachusetts.

“The New School had begun to outgrow our building at 15 Nobadeer Farm Road, so the Strong Wings building has been welcome additional space.”

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