It’s no secret that the Boston Public Schools buildings are in a state of disrepair. After decades without major renovations, deferred maintenance, and inequitable investment, our school buildings are not serving our students and teachers well. Of the many repairs necessary, our schools need to be tools for climate action with clean energy, ventilation, green space, and resilience against extreme heat and flooding. That’s why we’ve embarked on our Green and Healthy Schools campaign. You can learn more about it here. >>
Throughout 2022 and 2023, the City of Boston has been working on its Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools. We’ve worked closely with the Wu Administration to make this vision a reality, including by ensuring Bostonians from every neighborhood get to weigh in on the process.
This November, the City and School Department have hosted several public sessions to report on their progress and hear additional community feedback. The most recent set of sessions took place in person. You can view the City’s full presentation here. >>
Here are our big takeaways…
The City’s Long-Term Facilities Plan is nearing completion
The City’s Green New Deal for BPS process has centered on the development of a “Long-Term Facilities Plan.” Despite many wanting a specific timeline for when every building may be renovated or closed, the City is presenting a Decision Making Rubric and model timeline that will be applied to all of their facilities-related decisions moving forward.
Mergers and closures will happen on a two-year timeline
The City anticipates closing some schools or merging multiple schools together if the present schools do not meet the standards they are developing alongside the community. In other words, if the school building cannot, with reasonable renovation, provide the “High-Quality Student Experience,” it may be closed or merged. They anticipate one year between a school being shortlisted for a merger/closure and the merger/closure beginning. The “transition plan” for the merger/closure will run for a year, making the total timeline between announcement and completion two years. They also mentioned that the school’s community will be engaged throughout the process.
BCAN’s advocacy is working
The City shared that “Community priorities defined the High-Quality Student Experience.” This is the framework through which they will make decisions about school renovations, mergers, closures, and new constructions moving forward. Specifically, they identified the following priorities, which are reflective of what our members advocated for:
- Indoor environmental conditions
- Maintenance of school facilities
- Outdoor spaces for learning, play, and sports
- Involvement of students, families, and staff in BPS decision-making
The City is also posing several building models, which are models for what schools can look like based on the student body size and the grade levels being served. They said each of these building models will offer students “Healthy, resilient & energy-efficient facilities.”
These commitments further extend the BCAN-supported Executive Order requiring all major renovations and new constructions of City-owned buildings, including schools, to be fossil fuel-free.