Wednesday, October 04, 2017


BuildBPS' fund will equip schools with resources and tools to foster 21st century learning 

BOSTON - Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the first expenditures of his $1 billion BuildBPS initiative, a collective $13 million investment in every Boston Public Schools (BPS) building to provide immediate, tangible, short-term capital investments for the current school year.

First announced by Mayor Walsh at the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, the funding is made available through the 21st Century Schools Fund, part of the BuildBPS 10-Year Educational and Facilities Master Plan, and will create more flexible learning spaces with comfortable, movable furniture and digital screens.

"This immediate investment allows our schools to adapt to the ever-changing needs of 21st century teaching and learning," said Mayor Walsh. "As we prepare students to be competitive in the global economy, it is important that our instructional spaces are designed for innovation and collaboration."

Every school in the district will receive an allocation from the fund. Principals and Headmasters provided input on the types of investments needed and had an opportunity to preview new classroom furniture in professional development sessions before the start of the new school year. They now will work with School Site Councils to select from a menu of items, including: adjustable desks that can be used for large groups, small teams, or individual learning; ergonomic chairs and stools; portable teacher lecterns; and movable storage units to encourage flexible learning environments.

"The School Committee is appreciative of the work the BuildBPS team has done in thoroughly researching and understanding the needs of our schools," said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael O'Neill. "This investment is another step toward ensuring our students and teachers have the tools they need to succeed."

BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang said the investment will help transform classrooms into more interactive settings rather than relying on the centuries-old approach of teachers facing students seated in rows of stationary desks.

"Innovative instruction is all about teaching in a variety of styles," Dr. Chang said. "The 21st Century Schools Fund provides teachers greater flexibility to meet the needs of all students in classrooms equipped for interaction and creativity."
School allocations for the 21st Century Schools Fund were determined using a formula designed to ensure equitable distribution based on each school's enrollment, furniture condition, and level of student need.

The final formula designates a base amount of $100 per student. That $100 was then multiplied by a multiplier based on each school's "furniture score" from the Learning Environment portion of the BuildBPS facility assessments, adding greater weight to schools with furniture in poor condition. Lastly, that total was multiplied by the number of weighted students at each school, leading to each school's total allocation.

School leaders applauded the investments, including Walter Henderson, principal of the Mattapan Early Elementary School, a new school serving pre-K through grade 1 with programming focused on the Haitian-American community and trauma-sensitive practices.

"As we open a new school, we are excited that our facility investments will create a fun learning environment for our students and allow us the flexibility to meet their individual needs," Henderson said.

Traci Walker Griffith, principal of the Eliot K-8 Innovation School in the North End, recently received tables of alternating heights and movable desks that "nest" within one another, among other items.

"We always say our classrooms have looked the same for the past 200 years. However, this is truly an opportunity to re-think how we design learning spaces with students always being at the center," said Walker Griffith. "Having different configurations in the classroom helps teachers facilitate learning while allowing students of all abilities the opportunity to learn in pairs, small groups, or a large group."

In March, Mayor Walsh announced that BuildBPS will invest $1 billion over the next decade in school building construction, renovation, expansion, and repair projects. The City's Public Facilities Department and BPS Facilities Department have already invested in various BuildBPS projects including:
  • Seven schools across the city received 3,000 new windows, and five schools received new roofs and boilers through Accelerated Repair Projects, funded in partnership with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), totaling nearly $39 million.
  • Construction continued on the new $73 million Dearborn 6-12 STEM Academy near Dudley Square in Roxbury, scheduled to open in September 2018.
  • After completing the successful major renovation of the Eliot School's North Bennett Street location in the North End, the City launched the $20 million second phase of the project for the Eliot Upper School on Commercial Street.
  • The second phase of renovation for Another Course to College, in the former E. Greenwood building in Hyde Park, also began this summer.

BuildBPS helped inform the final Imagine Boston 2030 plan, Boston's first citywide plan in over 50 years. Imagine Boston 2030 is a comprehensive vision to boost quality of life, equity and resilience in every neighborhood across the city. Both plans lay out a strategic framework to provide 21st century learning experiences and facilities for students. Today's announcement marks progress being made towards these goals.

For more information on BuildBPS, please click here or visit the BuildBPS dashboard, a web-based data visualization tool.

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