Fort walls demolished; prominent plot on Napier Road (present location) allocated to school by the Governor, Sir Bartle Frere
A brief history of our school -
Established in 1860 - Known as Miss Prescott’s Fort Christian School
Foundations of present school building laid, with generous donations from Premchand Roychand (Rs 50,000) with a provision that Indian girls be admitted without restrictions regarding numbers or fees.
The school building was designed by British architect George Twigge (The Sir J.J. School of Arts & Elphinstone School are among other important buildings designed by him), in the Italian Gothic style.
Construction commenced... And was completed, thanks to a donation of Rs 5.5 lakhs from Premchand Roychand, funding the entire construction.
Formally opened as The Frere-Fletcher School (in honour of the Ex-Governor and the Rev. WK Fletcher)
After facing financial problems, and a take-over bid by the Cathedral Girls School (a Christian school in the vicinity), Mr. Jehangir B.Petit approached the High Court protesting against handing over the school to an educational institution that discriminated against the admission of Indian girls. He pointed out to the presiding Judge that the very intentions of Premchand Roychand when he made his donation in the 1860’s would be vitiated if the deal went through. As an alternative, Jehangir Petit proposed a scheme for a cosmopolitan girls high school which would admit Indian girls of all castes and creeds. The High court rescinded the original order of amalgamation and sanctioned a new arrangement whereby the school and its equipment was handed over to Mr J B Petit and a Board of Trustees nominated by him on payment of Rs. 1.5 lakhs and with the condition that the Trustees took over the entire burden of financing and running the school.
It was renamed The New High School For Girls, in November 1921.
Renamed The J. B. Petit High School for Girls in memory of its Founder
Through the following decades, the school has continued to maintain its high standards in education, largely through the efforts and enthusiasm of members of the staff. The school has been fortunate in having a number of distinguished Principals at the helm – including Ms Patuck, Ms. Chattopadhyay, Ms Anjali Heredia, Ms. Khergamwala, Ms NergisDaruwala and Ms Jeru Sethna.
In January 1973, Ms Shirin Darasha became the Principal. Her philosophy of teaching and her goals and objectives for the students included inculcating confidence, developing a capacity to think independently and have a feeling of self-worth, caring for others and making the students sensitive to others. Under her able guidance, the school flourished and attained new heights. It was a school way ahead of its times, rejecting rote-learning and the straight and narrow system followed by other schools, focusing on a holistic, well-rounded and creative education.
Ms. Anahita Devitre took over as Principal of the school, having been a student and a teacher and a true J B ite. She continued to uphold the long tradition of building confident, well balanced young women that we refer to as ‘JBites’!
Ms. Benaifer Kutar, (Bharucha) also a student of the batch of 1977, is currently the Principal of the school and continues to teach Social Studies to the children in a similar manner to Ms. Darasha’s forward thinking and most enjoyable style of cultural learning.
Update: JB Building Excellence Project from the desk of the principal Ms Kurar
Our JB Building Excellence Project was launched in March 2016 and parents have generously contributed to the Project and/or indicated their commitments to the cost of the Project. Parents will no doubt be as disappointed as we are at the slow progress of the Project and the purpose of this letter is to give you an understanding as to why this has happened despite our best efforts.
The plans were finalized by our Architect Abha Narain Lambah & Associates after detailed discussion with the Trustees & School Management and submitted to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai on November 16, 2016.
In the meantime, an application was made to the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee on March 14, 2016 and the NOC from the Committee was received on June 10, 2016.
Application was also made to the Chief Fire Officer of the Municipal Corporation on August 8, 2016 and the NOC from the Fire Officer was received on February 13, 2017.
However, we faced two road blocks which had to be cleared before the Municipal Corporation could process the approval of the building plans. These were in respect of a NOC from the Corporation that there were no tax dues and a NOC from the Collector, Mumbai City.
The application for the NOC for no tax dues was submitted on December 5, 2016. In the meantime, we received notices on May 11, 2016 for withdrawal of the School’s exemption from general property tax; and on July 11, 2016 for enhancement of tax retrospectively from April 1, 1992 resulting in a demand of Rs 85.70 lakhs which was subsequently enhanced to Rs 101.65 lakhs on May 26, 2017. We disputed these demands which were totally unjustified and after continuous follow up and several scheduled appointments & meetings, the demands were finally withdrawn and the NOC was issued on July 5, 2018.
We filed the application to the Collector on November 23, 2016. In the meantime, we received a notice on June 15, 2016 from the Collector’s Office asking us to produce copies of the permissions granted by the Collector for the existing structures of the school. These building structures were constructed at different stages with the last of the structures being constructed more than 50 years ago. It was clearly impossible for us to produce these copies after this long lapse of time but after diligent search at various locations, including the then architect’s office, we were able to produce a copy of the approval granted by the Chief Architect to the Government in 1972 in connection with the repairs of the roof of one of the structures; which approval had attached to it plans showing all the existing structures and these were then submitted to the Collector on July 29, 2016. Since then, we have been repeatedly following up the matter with the Collector and have been assured that the NOC will be issued shortly.
With the above two road blocks being cleared, we are hopeful that the necessary approval from the Municipal Corporation will be available soon and we will be able to commence construction of the Project. In the meantime, all the funds collected for the project, including the contributions by the parents and other donors have been kept in a separate account and the interest earned on these funds has also been added to the earmarked Project Funds.
I will keep you informed of the progress of the Project. I also extend my thanks on behalf of the Trustees & the School Management for your patience, support & understanding.
With warm regards,
Benaifer P. Kutar