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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, energy-efficient, and inspiring. Yet many of our school buildings lack the basic infrastructure they need — bathrooms with doors that lock; sinks with running 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 isn’t just a plan to upgrade our school facilities. It’s a vision to leverage Boston residents’ 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 more than half of City-owned building emissions. And it’s a pledge to listen to and rebuild trust with our communities—BPS students and families who have been calling for change for decades.

Watch: A Green New Deal for BPS

How is this different from BUILDBPS?

Committed leadership

We’ll dedicate committed leadership from both City Hall and BPS.

The safety, comfort, and quality of our school buildings is too important a priority to leave solely to a single City department. To elevate the wellbeing of children as a true community mission, we’ll need committed leadership at all levels of City government. While City departments oversee finance, project management, and master planning, BPS manages the day-to-day operations and maintenance of school facilities.

The Green New Deal (GND) for BPS is managed by a cross-departmental team led by Dion Irish, Chief of Operations for the City of Boston, and Indira Alvarez, Chief Operations Officer for Boston Public Schools. To execute on urgent school renovation and construction projects, Mayor Wu has proposed funding 25 new staff positions within the GND for BPS team in the FY23 budget — 10 within the City’s Operations Cabinet, and 15 within the BPS Facilities team, including project managers, environmental technicians, and a design and construction procurement manager.

Meet the Team

Dion Irish

Dion Irish
Chief of Operations
City of Boston

Image for indira c alvarez

Indira Alvarez
Chief Operations Officer
Boston Public Schools

Change the process

We’ll change the process of building schools to build trust through transparency, engagement, and urgency.

BPS facilities require significant investment, and for too long, the scale of the work that’s needed has made it difficult to plan and execute a comprehensive, district-wide approach. Decisions have been made haphazardly, and decades of deferred maintenance have left us with tough choices and pitted our school communities against one another. Right now, it’s not cost that’s preventing us from a school facilities overhaul — it’s knowing where to start. 

We owe it to our students and community to be clear about how decisions will be made. The City of Boston and BPS are investing in key tools to change the process of building schools.

Key tools
  • BPS is publishing a Building Dashboard, a dataset built internally over the last year 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.
  • As of April 2022, we are working with Bureau Veritas Technical Assessments to complete a Facilities Condition Assessment (FCA), a detailed analysis that produces a larger, in-depth dataset of building conditions and makes recommendations for repair, replacement, and renovation. The FCA will offer an independent, objective analysis of BPS facilities, offering more transparency for community members and informing future decisions around capital investment priorities. Once it’s complete, 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.
  • As of April 2022, we are working with DLR Group, Inc. 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, informed by authentic engagement with Boston community members over the next year. By offering educational and programmatic standards based on BPS values and vision—including our quality guarantee, our commitment to inclusion, and our dedication to an equitable, world-class, high-quality education — the Design Study will reduce the time and expenses required for future school construction and renovation projects, accelerating progress toward our district-wide facilities goals.

We’ll get started right away

While we continue to build our internal capacity and develop the tools to shape our future decision-making, we’re committing immediate funds in the FY23 capital budget 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 following projects were informed by the Building Dashboard and are designed to complement the district-wide grade reconfiguration to PreK-6 and 7-12 schools, enabling a quality guarantee for every student, in every neighborhood of Boston.

The projects listed below will move forward over the next year. We plan to add additional school construction and renovation projects to the City’s five-year Capital Plan every year, based on the ongoing work of the Facilities Condition Assessment and School Design Study.

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

List of projects

1. An expanded, reinvigorated Madison Park (Roxbury)

Our investments in Madison Park Technical Vocational High School must reflect the fact that the school opens doors not only for Boston’s young people, but also supports the economic vitality of our entire City. With an initial down payment of $500,000 in the FY23 capital budget, we’ll launch a programming and design study to build an educational complex equipped to prepare Boston youth and adults for exciting careers in technical and vocational fields, including emerging green-sector jobs.

2. Commitment to renovating the McKinley Schools (South End)

The four McKinley Schools – McKinley Elementary School, McKinley South End Academy, McKinley Middle School, and McKinley Preparatory High School — stretch across three buildings, all of which are some of the highest-needs school buildings in Boston. Together, the schools serve some of Boston’s most marginalized students — young people between the ages of 5 and 22 — with a focus on emotional, behavioral, and learning needs and intensive clinical supports. We’ll spend $175,000 in FY23 on a design study to determine requirements for all three McKinley School sites to effectively serve their communities, and we’ll commit City funds to rebuild the schools.

3. Building a new high school at the West Roxbury Education Complex (West Roxbury)

We’ll direct $150,000 in the capital budget for a needs assessment to rebuild the West Roxbury Educational Complex (WREC) as a comprehensive 7-12 high school that serves a student population from across the City. The WREC closed in June 2019 due to major roof, masonry, and windows issues and significant deferred maintenance. As we start rebuilding, we’ll engage school communities across Boston to determine what school(s) will move into the WREC building.

4. Major renovations to the Blackstone Elementary School (South End)

On April 27, the Boston City Council voted to authorize the City of Boston to submit a statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to apply for state funds to replace, renovate or modernize the Blackstone School.

5. New building on Paris Street to expand the Otis School (East Boston)

On April 27, the Boston City Council voted to authorize the City of Boston to submit a statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to apply for state funds to replace, renovate or modernize the Otis School by building an expansion on the Paris Street lot, which BPS acquired in 2019.

6. Renovations to the King School (Roxbury)

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. K-8 School serves more than 500 students, but at nearly 90 years old, its building is in urgent need of repair, with several maintenance areas categorized as a high priority. We’ll prioritize the King within the ongoing Facilities Conditions Assessment in order to determine the best path forward to upgrade the building, and we’ll commit City dollars to transforming the King to better serve its school community.

7. Renovations at the PJ Kennedy School (East Boston)

Earlier facilities work to replace the school’s boilers prompted further work needed for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). To ensure ADA compliance, we’ll dedicate more than $16 million in FY23 for a large-scale renovation, including the addition of auxiliary space. 

8. Renovations at the Cleveland Building (Dorchester)

The Cleveland Building is currently occupied by both the Boston Arts Academy (BAA) community, which will be moving into its new building in Fall 2022, and the Community Academy of Science and Health (CASH) community. When BAA moves out, CASH will expand into the newer side of the building, and we’ll draw upon reserve capital funds to renovate the site currently occupied by CASH, including $2.15 million to repair the roof and the building exterior.

9. Major upgrades to White Stadium (Franklin Park)

Located in the Playstead section of Franklin Park, the historic White Stadium is used for BPS track, football, and other athletic and community events. We’ll dedicate $500,000 for an 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. BPS and the Parks Department will work together to ensure the facility meets BPS Athletics’ standards and needs.

10. New PreK-6 school in Roxbury (Roxbury)

In May 2021, BPS announced plans to establish a new elementary school in Roxbury, but no school site has yet been identified. The School Design Study managed by the Public Facilities Department 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 design, and we’ll commit City funds to build a new school. Beginning SY22-23, 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.

11. New PreK-6 school in Dorchester/Mattapan (Dorchester/Mattapan)

In May 2021, BPS announced plans to establish a new elementary school in Dorchester, but no school site has yet been identified. In FY23, the School Design Study managed by the Public Facilities Department will accelerate site selection and design, and we’ll commit City funds to build a new school. Beginning SY22-23, BPS will engage several smaller Dorchester and Mattapan school communities – including but not limited to the Shaw, the Taylor, the Greenwood, Lee Academy, the Kenny, and the Holmes – to determine which schools will ultimately merge into a new Dorchester elementary school.

12. New PreK-6 school on Jackson-Mann Campus (Allston-Brighton)

The Jackson-Mann K-8 school will close at the end of this school year, and BPS has previously committed to constructing a new school on this site. In FY23, we’ll dedicate $150,000 for a study managed by the Public Facilities Department 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. The study will also evaluate options to include the Horace Mann School on the same site. Beginning SY22-23, 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. 

13. New facility for the Horace Mann School (Location TBD)

While we continue with a $31.2 million renovation to the Edwards building in Charlestown to provide a temporary home for the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HMS) community, beginning in Fall 2023, we will also dedicate $150,000 in FY23 for a siting study to evaluate locations for the permanent site of the HMS community—including the current Jackson-Mann site, other school sites in Allston/Brighton, and other sites throughout Boston. Once an appropriate site is identified, we’ll dedicate City dollars to creating a new state-of-the-art building for the HMS community. 

14. Renovated Irving building for several school communities (Roslindale)

The Irving Middle School will close at the end of this school year, and BPS previously announced that it would be repurposed as a PreK-6 school. We’ll dedicate $5.2 million in FY23 to upgrade the building facilities at the Irving building to facilitate a reconfiguration to an elementary school, and we’ll engage with several Roslindale school communities beginning SY 22-23 — including but not limited to the Sumner, the Philbrick, the Bates, the Conley, the Haley, and the Mozart — to determine which schools will ultimately merge into a renovated elementary school in the Irving building. View the Irving Renovation Feasibility Study.

15. Renovated Timilty School for swing space (Roxbury)

The Timilty Middle School will close at the end of this school year, though no reconfiguration of the building has been previously announced. We’ll dedicate $3 million in FY23 to upgrade the building facilities to facilitate a reconfiguration to an elementary school, which will then be used as swing space for the entire district to facilitate future renovations and new builds.

16. Renovated BCLA-McCormack Campus at Columbia Point (Dorchester)

As we prepare to welcome 10th grade students to the Columbia Point campus beginning in SY22-23, and 11th and 12th grade students beginning in SY23-24, we are committed to moving forward with plans to build out high-quality space that meets the programming needs of the Boston Community Leadership Academy-McCormack community. Phase 1 of these renovations includes $3 million to construct new science labs and a life skills room, expected to be complete in the summer of 2022. We're also funding campus-wide electrical upgrades and an open space study to chart a path forward for upgrades to outdoor fields and athletic facilities. We plan to come back to the school community in the fall of 2022 with updated options for Phase 2 of building renovations.

Combining smaller school communities will facilitate building upgrades and combine resources to reinvest in schools, expand enrichment opportunities, and produce stronger student outcomes. Some schools will be merged into new school facilities that are large enough to host multiple school communities, while others will become two-campus schools, stretching across existing school facilities. These changes will also facilitate BPS’ initiative to create one-time transitions and predictable pathways from grades PreK-6 to 7-12.

In the spring and summer of 2022, we are beginning the conversation with certain school communities to propose joining and becoming a two-campus school for the start of SY23-24. We anticipate introducing these proposals to the Boston School Committee on June 8, with a goal to finalize the decision in the fall of 2022. If the proposal is approved, there will be many opportunities over the coming year for school communities to share feedback and prepare for a successful launch of a two-campus school community in the fall of 2023. Each school community is special in its own way, and over the coming year, we’ll invite school communities to come together to take the best of both schools and collaboratively make decisions around naming, physical spaces, enrichment opportunities, and community building.

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: 
  1. Energy and Water Efficiency: The Renew Boston Trust (RBT) program conducts energy audits, makes energy conservation recommendations, and ensures the installation of energy efficiency upgrades in City-owned buildings, including solar installations and power purchasing agreements. We’ll continue to make energy and water efficiency upgrades in our school buildings, install solar panels, and launch new solar power purchasing agreements for schools that have either been built “solar-ready” or have an existing system that needs upgrades.
  2. Indoor Air Quality: Beginning in September 2020, through the Indoor Air Quality Sensor Monitoring Initiative, the BPS Sustainability and Environmental Resources Division has installed over 4,000 indoor air quality sensors across all BPS schools. The sensors have been installed in all BPS classrooms, nurse’s offices, and main offices, with a roof-toop unit installed in every school building to measure outdoor air as a baseline per location. Results are reported live through a public dashboard. BPS has also developed an Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation Plan to respond to potential exceedances — when a measured indoor air quality level is above the adopted standard. 
  3. Air Conditioner Installation: BPS is installing air conditioner window units in school buildings to ensure a safe and comfortable learning environment. In total, 6,400 units will be installed over 91 schools, with work estimated to be complete in early 2023.
  4. Cafeteria Upgrades: Beginning in 2017, the City has modernized 106 school kitchens across the district to allow for on-site cooking of fresh, nutritious meals. The final two schools – the Mozart and the Sumner – will receive cafeteria upgrades in FY23. 
  5. School Yard Improvements and Exterior Grounds improvements: In partnership with the Community Preservation Committee, the City will continue its annual School Yard Improvement Program with improvements at 9 schools in FY23. Improvements include updated play structures, safety surfacing, and landscaping. An additional 9 schools will receive exterior grounds improvements, including improved landscaping, walkways, paving, outdoor lighting, and signage.
  6. Bathroom Renovations: Bathroom renovations across the district include upgraded fixtures, flooring, partitions, lighting, and paint. This work builds on the improvements BPS has made over the past few years on venting, sink repair, and toilet repair.
  7. Radiator Cover Installation: BPS is working to improve student safety across the district by installing covers on all exposed radiators, starting with K0-2 classrooms.
  8. Entryway Improvements: In addition to district-wide Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility improvements, BPS will make targeted entryway improvements to create a more welcoming, calm, and safe environment, including upgrades to security, doors, lighting, and wayfinding.
  9. Drinking Water Access: With support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, BPS has invested in new, filtered water fountains and bottle filling stations  across the district, building on prior investments to improve equitable drinking water access and move BPS away from bottled water. This work will continue to accelerate through FY23. 

In addition, BPS will continue to invest in district-wide facilities improvements, with the specific schools to be identified based on the needs of each school facility:

  • Accessibility improvements, including improvements to ramps, doors, and elevators to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • School garden installation 
  • Fire alarm system upgrades 
  • Masonry repairs
  • 21st century interior improvements, including lighting, security, classroom technology, and wayfinding
  • Library improvements
  • Art room improvements
  • Science room improvements 
  • Auditorium improvements

Sustainable Funding

We’ll commit to sustainable funding that meets the scale of the need.

The FY23-27 capital plan projects $605 million in City spending over the next five years—but over their entire life cycle, the projects represented in this Capital Plan are estimated to cost over $2 billion. Due to decades of deferred maintenance, we know that we’ll need to invest significant City resources in the coming years to transform all of our school buildings to meet our students’ needs.

By investing now in a Facilities Condition Assessment and a School Design Study, we’re laying the foundation for a community-driven master plan by FY25 with a clear timeline and a budget for upgrading schools across the entire district. While we don’t know the total cost now, we do know that we can’t solely rely on the Massachusetts School Building Authority for external grant funding. We’ll continue to add to the Capital Plan every year — investing new City funds to move projects from programming to design, and from design to construction — until all Boston Public Schools facilities are healthy, safe, energy-efficient, and inspiring.

How you can get involved

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.

Watch the Session

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