Approximately 65% of the 127 public school buildings in Boston were constructed before World War II, and less than half of those schools have been fully renovated. That’s why Khadijah Brown, Boston Public Schools director of facilities management, was thrilled when Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh (D) announced a 10-year, $1-billion investment in the district’s facilities during his Jan. 18 state-of-the-city address. Brown, who has worked for the district for more than 20 years, said, “We can’t do it fast enough.”
The 10-year master plan, called “Build BPS,” included gathering community input and data on its current facilities during an 18-month period. Walsh said the renovated buildings will include twenty-first-century classrooms with modern furnishings and technology, as well as better lighting, ventilation, climate control, energy efficiency and accessibility.
BPS currently is constructing its first new school in more than a decade. The $73-million Dearborn STEM Academy will expose portions of mechanical elements, such as pipes and electrical work, to use as teaching tools. There also will be dashboards that monitor the building’s real-time energy consumption. Brown said those elements will be incorporated into new projects, too.
While the Dearborn STEM Academy was procured with the CM-at-risk /GMP delivery method, Brown said it is too early to determine how new projects will be delivered. Massachusetts allows public authorities to use CM-at-risk and design-build delivery methods on projects that are $5 million or more.
BPS also is seeking Massachusetts School Building Authority approval for two other school projects, along with $21 million in repairs and updates. The district will release more information about Build BPS in the coming weeks. In his speech, Walsh also said, “Boston is entering a new era of school investment.”