A Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools
We're reimagining our schools as full-service community hubs and engines of climate resilience.
Every student in Boston deserves to learn in a space that is safe, healthy, resilient, and inspiring. Yet many of our school buildings lack the basic infrastructure they need—comprehensive heating, cooling, and ventilation systems; clean and functional bathrooms; safe drinking water; libraries or science labs—let alone the technology and resources for a world-class education. We need a large-scale shift in how we manage our Boston Public Schools facilities. To deliver on a quality guarantee, build healthy and nurturing physical environments, and align with our broader civic goals of equity, opportunity, and engagement we need a Green New Deal for BPS.
This is a vision to leverage Boston residents’ expertise, creativity and passion to reimagine our schools as full-service community hubs that can adapt to meet the evolving needs of our students and our City. It’s a commitment to safeguarding the climate resilience of our school buildings, which make up nearly half of City-owned building emissions. And it’s a pledge to listen to our communities—BPS students and families— who have been calling for change for decades.
Watch: A Green New Deal for BPS
DEVELOPING A LONG-TERM FACILITIES ACTION PLAN
We are committed to changing the way we manage and plan for BPS facilities and developing a long-term facilities action plan by the end of 2023. Here’s how we’ll get there:
- We’re using the Racial Equity Planning Tool (REPT), created by BPS in 2017 to analyze how District policies and proposals impact students and communities with the greatest needs. The REPT requires authentic and ongoing engagement of BPS’ diverse stakeholders to empower all members of our school communities.
- We created the Building Dashboard, a dataset built internally that integrates data from the SY22 Opportunity Index and information on each school building’s capital assets and environmental conditions. This dashboard is continually updated by the BPS Facilities team, and has been used to help prioritize current capital investments.
- We contracted with Bureau Veritas Technical Assessments to complete a Facilities Condition Assessment (FCA), a large, detailed dataset of building conditions and set of recommendations for repair, replacement, and renovation. The FCA will be integrated into BPS’ Asset Essentials management system, which tracks all work orders and capital projects, to maintain real-time data on the state of our buildings, offer more transparency for community members, and inform future decisions around capital investment priorities.
- We contracted with DLR Group, Inc., Jonathan Levi Architects, and St. Fleur Communications to complete a School Design Study, a set of programming and design recommendations for PreK-6 and 7-12 schools to guide future renovations and construction, based on authentic engagement with Boston community members. These design standards will reduce the time and expenses required for future school construction and renovation projects, accelerating progress toward our district-wide facilities goals.
While we continue along the path toward a long-term facilities action plan, we have made immediate investments to launch major capital projects that touch more than 20 school communities and continue district-wide initiatives to advance environmental justice and educational opportunity. The selection of new projects was informed by the Building Dashboard and are designed to create predictable PreK-6 and 7-12 pathways and deliver a quality guarantee for every student, in every neighborhood of Boston.
List of projectsprojects
We are committed to moving forward with plans to build out high-quality space on the Columbia Point campus that meets the programming needs of the full Boston Community Leadership Academy-McCormack community. Phase 1 of these renovations included a $3 million investment to construct two new science labs and a life skills room and were completed in the Fall of 2022. We plan to come back to the school community with updated options for Phase 2 of building renovations, and we are proposing more than $12 million in the FY24 Capital Plan to start the design process.
We are committed to renovating facilities at the Blackstone School, including improving building systems, and interior and exterior spaces and supporting the sustainability of the 6th grade, which was added in 2022. The Blackstone was not invited into the Massachusetts School Building Authority's Core program in 2022, but we are proposing $20 million in the FY24 Capital Plan to begin the design process.
In the Fall of 2022, we celebrated the opening of the new Boston Arts Academy, a $137 million project supported by the City of Boston and the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The new 5-story building features a 500-seat auditorium and theater space, a black box theater, four new dance studios, visual arts studios, a recording studio, choral room, a 150-seat recital hall, 10 practice rooms, and classrooms and science labs. A roof terrace is designed for use as an outdoor classroom and performance space. The project also modified the existing streetscape by widening sidewalks and shortening crosswalks to create a safer path of travel around the building, while adding trees and street furniture to create a more welcoming environment for students and visitors. The building design is highly energy-efficient, exceeding LEED silver requirements.
In June 2022, we celebrated the groundbreaking on the new Carter School, a $92 million investment supported by the City of Boston and the Massachusetts School Building Authority. Construction is estimated to be complete before the beginning of the 2024-25 school year. The new facility will include a therapeutic pool, sensory garden, rooftop classroom, and better space designed specifically for students with disabilities and complex learning needs. The upgraded facility will expand the Carter School’s enrollment capacity from 25 to 60 and allow for new early childhood programs.
The Cleveland Building is currently occupied by the Community Academy of Science and Health (CASH) community. BPS will engage with CASH and District leadership to evaluate potential uses of the unused space in the building. We’ll also dedicate capital funds to renovate the site, including $2.15 million to repair the roof and the building exterior which is targeted to be complete in the fall of 2023.
We are proposing $41.6 million in the FY24 Capital Plan to support major renovations to the Edwards building in Charlestown, which will serve as the new home for the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HMS) community beginning in the Fall of 2025. The renovations to the Edwards building are based on intentional design rooted in Deaf space principles to best support the HMS community. We are also continuing to explore alternative long-term site options across Boston through a siting study.
The Jackson-Mann K-8 school closed in June 2022, and BPS has previously committed to constructing a new school on this site. In FY23, we have dedicated $150,000 for a study to develop a building program for the design and construction of a new PreK-6 school on this site alongside the Jackson/Mann BCYF Community Center and potentially the Horace Mann School. Beginning SY23-24, BPS will engage several Allston-Brighton school communities – including but not limited to the Lyon, the Winship, the Gardner, the Edison, and the Baldwin – to determine which schools will ultimately merge into a renovated elementary school on the Jackson-Mann Campus.
In December 2022, we celebrated the raising of the last steel beam at the new Josiah Quincy Upper School facility. This was a significant milestone in this construction project, a $193 million facility supported by the City of Boston and the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The new 6-story facility will accommodate 650 students, and will include a rooftop outdoor classroom and activity complex, a media center, athletic and fitness areas, a black box theater, auditorium, cafeteria, and other learning and administrative spaces. The design includes a fresh air make-up system and enhanced filtration to mitigate air pollution from vehicle traffic on nearby highways. Construction is expected to be complete before the 2024-25 school year.
The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School serves more than 400 students in grades preK-6, but at nearly 90 years old, its building is in urgent need of repair, with several maintenance areas categorized as a high priority. The District-wide Facilities Condition Assessment, which will be complete in the Summer of 2023, will determine the best path forward to upgrade the building, and we are proposing $5 million in the FY24 Capital Plan to begin design.
Our investments in Madison Park Technical Vocational High School must reflect that the school opens doors not only for Boston’s young people but also supports the economic vitality of our entire City. In 2022, we launched a programming study to rebuild an educational complex on Malcolm X Boulevard in Roxbury that is equipped to prepare Boston youth and adults for exciting careers in technical and vocational fields, including emerging green-sector jobs. We are working with New Vista Design, Annum, and St. Fleur Communications to develop an educational and building vision for Madison Park, and in the FY24 Capital Plan, we are proposing $45 million to begin the design of a new campus to bring that vision to reality.
The Mel H. King South End Academies (formerly the McKinley Schools) stretches across three buildings, all of which are some of the highest-needs school buildings in Boston. The Mel King Academy is a therapeutic day school for students with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges, and offers engaging, relationship-based, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive education for students up to age 22. In 2022, we launched a programming study to develop an updated educational vision for renovated facilities, working with Saam Architecture and Design Civic. In the FY24 Capital Plan, we are proposing $20.3 million to begin design services to deliver on that vision.
We are committed to building an annex for the Otis School on the Paris Street lot, which BPS acquired in 2019. This expansion would grow the Otis’ enrollment capacity and support the sustainability of the 6th grade, which was added in 2020. The Otis School was not invited into the Massachusetts School Building Authority's Core program in 2022. The City and BPS are currently exploring financial options to continue to pursue this project in FY24.
We are proposing to combine the Philbrick and Sumner schools to become a preK-6 school located in the renovated Irving building, beginning in the Fall of 2025. Combining the schools will consolidate resources to invest in expanded academic and enrichment opportunities and inclusion. The FY24 Capital Plan proposal includes $90.8 million to renovate the Irving building, and we expect construction to begin in the Summer of 2023.
Earlier facilities work to replace the boilers at the PJ Kennedy School prompted further work needed for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To ensure ADA compliance, we have dedicated more than $16 million in FY23 for a large-scale renovation, including a new entranceway, playground, trees and plantings, school garden, fencing, lighting and security cameras, as well as new and renovated interior spaces. Construction will begin in the Summer of 2023.
In May 2022, we recommitted to building a new elementary school in Roxbury. No school site has yet been identified yet, but the ongoing Facilities Condition Assessment and School Design Study will accelerate site selection by providing several massing and siting options, looking at existing City-owned property in Roxbury as well as potential acquisitions, as well as a programming and design vision for the new school. BPS will engage several Roxbury school communities – including but not limited to the Ellis, the Higginson/Lewis, the Higginson Elementary, the Hale, the Mendell, the Winthrop, and the Mason – to determine which schools will ultimately merge into a new Roxbury elementary school.
We are proposing to combine the Shaw and Taylor school communities into a single two-campus, preK-6 school beginning in the Fall of 2024. Joining the communities will consolidate resources to support expanded academic and enrichment opportunities, early childhood, and inclusion. We worked with a School Design Team made up of members of both school communities and District leadership to finalize a merger proposal, which was introduced to the Boston School Committee in April 2023. We are also applying to the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s Core Program to fund the design and construction of a new facility for a unified Shaw-Taylor community in Dorchester/Mattapan, and we are proposing $50 million in the FY24 Capital Plan to support the project.
We conducted a needs assessment to rebuild the West Roxbury Education Complex (WREC) as a comprehensive 7-12 high school serving a student population across the City. The WREC closed in June 2019 due to major roof, masonry, and windows issues and significant deferred maintenance. The FY24 Capital Plan proposes $18.2 million to begin demolition and design of a new facility. In June 2023, we proposed redesigning the facility for the John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science.
Located in the Playstead section of Franklin Park, the historic White Stadium is used for BPS track, football, and other athletic and community events. In 2023, we launched an updated needs assessment of the facility, including the east and west stands, the playing field, and the track, to develop preliminary designs and cost estimates, building on a previous 2013 study. The FY24 Capital Plan proposes $10.5 million to transform the facility into a hub for BPS Athletics.
While we launch new large-scale capital projects, the City is continuing to invest in initiatives across BPS to improve the safety, quality, and environmental sustainability of facilities. These projects include improvements to energy and water efficiency, indoor air quality, installation of air conditioners, cafeteria upgrades, school yard and exterior grounds improvements, bathroom renovations, installation of radiator covers, entryway improvements, drinking water access, and more.
BPS Green New Deal Map
We have a map of capital projects, districtwide initiatives, and past major capital projects from FY14-22.View the map
On May 18, we held a public informational session where City and BPS officials shared more about the Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools and answered many of your questions.