By John Lynds
During his last State of the City Mayor Martin Walsh said he is committing $1 billion to Boston Public School (BPS) buildings to catalyze long-term investment.
The commitment was the culmination of information that city officials have been collecting on Boston’s student population, school facilities, and neighborhoods. This information has been synthesized to become the foundation of the “BuildBPS” report.
Now the city and BPS has moved into hearing from residents and educators in the neighborhood through a series of BuildBPS workshops.
Last Tuesday night at East Boston High School BPS hosted one such workshop hosted by BPS’s Facilities Management Division.
It was announced that the Facilities Management Division will be merged into the City of Boston’s Public Facilities Department (PFD) to create a new division to manage school facilities projects and interface with the Massachusetts School Building Authority and other external entities. This will create the structural and organizational efficiencies Boston needs to meet its major capital investments and facilities improvement goals.
The workshop was part of a robust community collaboration process in Eastie to guide ongoing and long-term decision making. While the city will begin with a $13 million investment in new school furniture and technology to promote 21st century learning and teaching methodologies the workshop asked residents and educators working in Eastie BPS schools to write down their wants and needs for schools.
“I was pleased to see a high level of community engagement at the East Boston neighborhood workshop last Tuesday evening,” said Tommy Welch, BPS’s
Instructional Superintendent. “All eleven Eastie schools (and one Charlestown school) were represented by parents, teachers, and school leaders. Additionally, several community members participated in the process which generated dozens of ideas for investment opportunities in our school system.”
The highlight of the evening was the facilitation of a problem-solving activity, during which nine diverse groups of stakeholders analyzed data and collaboratively generated several solutions to the complex issues facing Eastie’s network of schools.
“Teams brainstormed to generate ideas that were relatively inexpensive, as well as huge capital projects,” said Welch. “Some of the proposed ideas included: the addition of a grade level at some schools, creating feeder patterns among smaller schools, completely renovating existing buildings, adding a middle school to East Boston, and building a new 7-12 high school.”