Mayor Walsh, Interim Superintendent Perille, Volunteers Greet 57,000 Students Across the City
BPS Interim Superintendent Laura Perille (left) and Mayor Martin J. Walsh (right) visit Marjorie Hyppolite’s third-grade class at the Perkins Elementary School in South Boston on the first day of school, Thursday, September 6, 2018. The students in the photo are Leliani Berry, Destiny Kilburn, Sophia Delmedico, Jayla Leslie, Jerry Quigley, Jose Cabral, Stephanie Williams Cribb, Jhordan Keel Lewis, Martin Andrade, Jai’l Wilson, and Janelle Metellus. (Photo by John Wilcox)
BOSTON — This past week Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Interim Superintendent Laura Perille, teachers, staff, and city employee volunteers greeted nearly 57,000 Boston Public Schools (BPS) students back to class to begin the 2018-19 school year.
Parents seeking back-to-school information and tips can visit the BPS Back to School website.
Walsh and Perille began the day at The English High School, in Jamaica Plain, before visiting a school bus stop play installation at the intersection of Geneva Avenue and Westville Street in Dorchester, which is a play area at the bus stop for elementary students designed by the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. The play installation is called an “EcoSonic Playground Project,” which is described as a “socially-oriented musical instrument structure using PVC pipes and recycled materials found locally.”
“I am so happy to welcome students, families, teachers, and administrators back for the first day of school and I thank everyone who worked hard to ensure the success of this important day,” said Mayor Walsh. “I hope this year brings new opportunities for students to challenge themselves academically and discover new interests while continuing to expand their horizons for a bright future ahead.”
“As I begin the school year as Interim Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools, I could not be more thrilled to welcome students back,” said Interim Superintendent Perille. “Teachers and staff have worked hard all summer to ensure our schools are safe and welcoming places for students of all backgrounds. This year, BPS will continue to grow equitable pathways to high-quality instruction, expand Central Office support for schools and families, institute a number of facilities upgrades, and increase access to fresh food, among other initiatives, while always keeping students at the focus of our work.”
Perille continued the day by visiting the Perkins Elementary School in South Boston, which is under the leadership of Massachusetts Elementary Principal of the Year Craig Martin. She then traveled to East Boston to participate in the Countdown to Kindergarten Parade before visiting the Adams and Otis elementary schools.
“The first day of school is a special and exciting time for students of all ages,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “The Boston Public Schools welcomes students and families back with open arms. Our hardworking teachers and staff are eager to work with our families to build a village of engaged and happy learners for the new school year.”
Highlights for the 2018-19 school year include:
• Opening of the Dearborn STEM 6-12 Early College Academy: This state-of-the-art,128,000-square-foot facility, located just outside of Dudley Square in Roxbury, features flexible indoor and outdoor learning spaces; two fabrication labs (also known as “fab labs”); numerous modern technology, including 3D printers and laser die cutters; a gymnasium; a dance studio; a media center; an abundance of natural light with views of the downtown Boston skyline from several classrooms; sophisticated green energy systems; and much more. The $73 million facility was the first new school construction project in the Boston Public Schools in 15 years and is seen as a model for future projects through the BuildBPS educational and facilities master plan. About $37 million of the total cost was reimbursed by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). Construction of the new Boston Arts Academy will begin soon, and the planning process for construction of a new Carter School has begun in collaboration with MSBA.
• 21st Century Learning Furniture and BuildBPS Upgrades: As part of a $13 million allocation from the BuildBPS educational and facilities master plan, most schools received furniture deliveries over the summer, and a small number will receive theirs this fall. This furniture is intended to be flexible to encourage collaboration and innovation in learning. Examples include adjustable desks, ergonomic chairs, and portable teacher lecterns. Additionally, since 2017, the City and BPS have spent more than $45 million to carry out major system repairs of school buildings through BuildBPS, including replacing 3,000 windows, and repairing roofs and boilers at six schools, with an additional $15 million worth of roof, boiler, and window repairs at six additional schools beginning in 2018-19.
• Expansion of the “My Way Cafe” school meals program: In collaboration with the Shah Family Foundation, this summer, the City of Boston Public Facilities Department began renovating kitchens in schools in Mattapan, Roxbury, and East Boston, to enable a total of 30 schools to prepare and cook meals on-site and no longer rely on pre-packaged meals. Service of the expanded program will be rolled out at 1-2 schools weekly through early next year.
• Central Office Support for Schools: With the recent appointment of Dr. Charles Grandson as Interim Chief Academic Officer, BPS is leveraging academic and student support teams to effectively support teachers and principals to better meet the academic and social-emotional needs of students. The growth of this ongoing work includes strategies to provide equitable high-quality instruction across the district.
• Early Childhood Education: In the last five years, BPS and the City of Boston have increased participation in K1 (pre-K) programs by nearly 1,000 students, for a total of 2,947 K1 students for FY19. BPS has invested $5 million into K1 expansion since 2014, totaling about $22.7 million for next year. BPS oversees a nationally recognized early childhood education program that is child-centric, highly developmental and is shown through research to lead to academic gains for several years, helping close the opportunity and achievement gaps.
Mayor Walsh and Interim Superintendent Perille visit students and families at the Countdown to Kindergarten Parade in East Boston on Thursday, September 6.