BOSTON – Today, City Councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell shared her priorities for how Boston Public Schools should invest the over $400 million in federal relief money BPS is slated to receive and that must be spent in the next three years.
“With this unprecedented surge of revenue, Boston Public Schools has an opportunity and a responsibility to not only proactively and immediately address student learning loss from the pandemic, but also address systemic inequities in our schools including the quality of our school facilities, curriculum, and technology,” said Councilor Campbell. “Our top priority should be making up for lost time through supports such as high-dosage tutoring and in-person summer learning programs, and we can also use dollars to plan for a seamless reopening in the fall, to invest in curriculum and technology so all students have what they need to be successful, and to build the school buildings our students and educators deserve. These are fiscally responsible strategies to maximize the impact of this once in a lifetime grant for our schools that avoid future cuts and layoffs at the end of the grant, while at the same time, also exploring long-term creative revenue streams to fund universal pre-K.”
Campbell’s priorities for how Boston Public Schools should use this additional funding include:
- Make up for lost time. Boston’s top priority must be to make up for the significant and inequitable gaps which have been exacerbated in the last year. That should include summer school and high-dosage tutoring, through staff stipends as well as tutoring by other community members and non-profit community partners, not only for next school year, but for many years to come. Any family who wants enriching and educational summer programming should receive it for the next three years. We also know that mental health has been a challenge for many of our students amidst the isolation and pain of the last year, so our recovery must also include an infusion of counseling and social emotional supports.
- Plan for a seamless reopening in the fall. These funds give Boston the resources the City needs to stipend teachers, school leaders, and other staff to have real planning time this summer, so that on the first day of school, we’re ready to welcome back students and address their individual needs — everything from health and safety protocols and on-time buses to the social and emotional supports we know our students will need.
- Invest in curriculum and technology. The stimulus also provides a unique opportunity to make overdue updates in the materials our students and educators use every day. That can include modernizing Madison Park’s vocation facilities, ensuring staff and students have the hardware and software they need across the district, and putting high-quality, culturally and linguistically sustaining curriculum in our schools.
- Build the school buildings children and educators deserve — while freeing up money for the future. The pandemic highlighted what many of our families and educators already knew — our buildings are in dire need of repair. While we had our attention on windows that won’t open and non-existent HVAC systems, we also know that too many of our buildings lack the 21st century learning environments that our communities deserve. Now is the moment to finally accelerate facilities investment, which can include investing in energy efficiency and sustainability, such as replacing lighting, updating heating and cooling systems, upgrading windows, and even installing solar panels. These investments are not only good for our air quality and our carbon footprint, but the district will reap the financial returns for years to come, allowing us to make long term investments in services our children deserve.
In addition to outlining her priorities for the funds, Councilor Campbell is also calling on BPS to outline the timeline and process by which these large decisions will be made.
“I’m advocating for an open, inclusive process with sufficient time to develop a thoughtful multi-year plan to spend these incredible resources,” said Councilor Campbell. “I’m sharing my initial priorities today, but we need to hear the voices of parents, educators, school leaders and students if we want to build a bold plan that will create real change for our youth.”
In February, Campbell released a comprehensive education plan to address student learning loss during the pandemic, elevate the quality of all Boston Public Schools, and transform Boston Public Schools into a more equitable district so that every Boston student has access to an excellent public education and opportunities that will prepare them for success.
Councilor Campbell recently filed an order for a hearing on Boston Public Schools’ plans for summer learning opportunities and planning for next school year. The hearing is tentatively scheduled for Monday, April 12th.