Realtor Coffee & Conversation with Dr. Ficarra

The Coalition’s work with realtors for over 21 years has been critical to the success of marketing the towns as inclusive and in working toward integrated neighborhoods by encouraging sales to people of all races in all areas. Periodically the Coalition meets with realtors to inform them about changes and developments in the the towns that may affect how they market homes here. Given upcoming changes in the school district, the Schools and Residential/Neighborhoods Committees of the Coalition invited realtors to a breakfast conversation to share important information about the district, to answer questions, and to provide them with the opportunity to have a conversation with Interim Superintendent Dr. Thomas Ficarra.

The chairs of the Schools Committee, Carol Barry-Austin and Sue Willis, talked to the realtors about the benefits of integrated schools and shared the importance of selling the district as whole–based on the strength of all its schools–to prospective home buyers, rather than highlighting particular neighborhoods or schools.

Executive Director Nancy Gagnier presented an overview of the demographic changes (see the full Demographic Report) the towns are experiencing and the effect that has had on neighborhood and school integration. She noted that our district has a history of responding to demographic change, and to educational needs and educational progress in positive ways. We are at another turning point in SOMA—just as we are facing changes in demographics—we are facing new needs in our schools to accommodate a growing and changing population.

Dr. Ficarra shared exciting news about positive changes to our schools that will benefit families in terms of upgraded facilities, educational programs, and most important to the Coalition, changes that will support integrated schools. Dr. Ficarra gave an overview the district’s Long Range Facilities Plan that will provide necessary building upgrades and space to accommodate a growing school population.  Built into the plan is an opportunity to also address racial and socio-economic segregation through rezoning, the details of which will be presented this fall.

Closing the morning was Erin Scherzer, chair of the Residential Committee, who shared some of the research on the benefits of integrated schools and neighborhoods. She also noted the work of the Residential Committee to support neighborhood associations and to establish a police community board.

Thanks to all the realtors who came to learn and ask questions about the schools!

Special thanks to Dr. Ficarra for taking time to explain the plans for change and answering questions.




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