Chipping lead paint. Leaking ceilings. Pools of water collecting on hallway floors. Black mold.
When we released our video in January identifying BPS facilities as one of the 10 biggest challenges facing the new superintendent, we heard from families and teachers about what they’ve been seeing and experiencing in their own schools.
It was, literally, not a pretty picture, as one teacher shared a photo on Twitter of a bank of lockers in a school hallway where he said a “lake” appears daily, despite the best efforts of the school’s custodian. He wrote, “I always wonder what’s growing behind these lockers, and what my students are breathing everyday.”
His second photo focused on what was actually growing, a dark-colored mold on the linoleum tile beneath student lockers.
One mom shared her frustration about lead paint in her child’s school, an issue that has gone unaddressed despite the pleas from that school’s parent council to address it. And with talk of increased funding to BPS, she asked how the money was actually being spent.
As we’ve shared over the last few months during our 10 Challenges series, the ongoing annual announcements from City Hall of funding to address BPS issues seem disconnected from the facilities concerns we hear and read about in news reports and social media posts.
In 2017, Mayor Marty Walsh announced an investment of $1 billion in BuildBPS, a 10-year facilities plan “to modernize schools to provide more spaces that facilitate 21st century learning, along with embarking upon construction of new school buildings….”
Three years in, half of that $1 billion has already been spent on installing new windows, replacing old boilers, and a host of other checklist items that have not brought the city closer to providing modern, up-to-date learning environments for more than 53,000 BPS students.
In fact, the price tag to fix all identified, needed repairs in BPS schools is $3.2 billion.
As for new 21st century buildings, the only new schools realized thus far are projects that began several years ago under the administration of former Mayor Thomas Menino.
At a time when the city’s real estate value has hit an unprecedented $164 billion, we are also a city whose children attend schools in various states of disrepair. Lead pipes prevent children from having access to water fountains in 90 of the 125 BPS schools, and too many bathrooms have air quality issues and no toilet paper or soap. Roofs leak, ceiling tiles drop, and paint chips fall as BPS children and teachers know all too well.
What do you think? And what is the state of your child’s school? Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.