1. No Gym Our high school doesn't have a gym. It's not that we wouldn't love one. We would. We can't afford one, though.
Each state deals with charter school facilities differently. Here in Massachusetts, it's up to us to find a school building.
That's really tough in Boston. Little available. High prices. Usually charters here buy or rent as little space as we possibly can. No library. No theater. My "office" is 8 people sitting around 2 tables; none of us have desks. When Ray comes over to work, we usually park him on the floor, with his laptop. 230 kids go to school in 20,000 square feet.
It's not easy for us to find space we can rent for home games. My colleague Gray was calling all our friends in traditional district schools. But they're pretty packed too.
By contrast, the suburban school 6 miles west on Commonwealth Avenue has 400,000+ square feet for 1850 kids.
Six miles but 2 different worlds. Their high school has two gyms. Two theaters. Olympic swimming pool. Dance studio. Plus vast outdoor playing fields. $197 million.
I don't begrudge them $151 million worth of the building, which came from local property taxes. Perhaps the $46 million from the state could have been put to better uses, however, helping other kids. Maybe just one theater.
We are grateful for the building we do have. It's small but nice.
2. Found One
Finally we got lucky; we could rent a beautiful court at School Z every Friday night during the season. Orin, who coaches our boys team, mentioned it to the guys.
"Bad idea," they said.
Orin asked why.
"We, uh, know some guys in that neighborhood. That would not be a great place for us to be."
Some of our students have family who are heavily gang-involved. I'm not so naive as to think all of our students are totally clean here, either. In any case, here's what might happen.
a. Our kids would invite certain friends from their neighborhood (several blocks away) to watch in the bleachers, so they'd feel safe.
b. Meanwhile, once the local gang would see either our students or their friends show up on their turf. So even though it would be a basketball game between 2 charter schools, text messages would be sent out. Within minutes the gym might fill up with their guys.
And then who knows.
Orin wasn't sure how to respond to the kids' concern. Gyms are hard to get. Was it really a big deal? Maybe our kids were overstating the risk of Jets on Sharks action.
He called one of his former players, a guy who grew up nearby. He is now at Eastern Nazarene College.
"Hey Du, I was thinking of us playing some home games at School Z --"
Dumarius cut him off.
"Coach, let me tell you something. That's a bad idea."
So the search continues.