Backlog of repairs must not be allowed to grow

News Date: 
October 09, 2013
Source: 
Boston Globe

We agree that “you should not put a dollar figure on what is right for student learning,” as Dot Joyce, spokeswoman for Mayor Menino, says in reference to the announcement of a proposed $261 million construction project to house two Boston schools (Page A1, Oct. 1). But does it depend on who foots the bill — the state or the City of Boston?

We have another dollar figure to factor into consideration: More than $500 million is currently needed to repair and modernize schools across the district. These projects, which can include replacing leaky roofs and windows and maintaining heating and ventilation systems, are equally important for students’ learning and can affect the health of our teachers and students. The repair backlog continues to grow without a commitment by city decision-makers to develop a multiyear facilities plan to fund the work.

Yes, we absolutely agree that new, healthy, sustainable schools are good for the city. Boston should indeed take advantage of the generous 75 percent reimbursement rate from the Massachusetts School Building Authority for new construction. However, let’s be clear that the 25 percent contribution from the city for the costs associated with construction for one new school should not outweigh the need to address the critical backlog of school repairs across the city.

Laurita Kaigler-Crawlle
Director
Boston Healthy Homesand Schools CollaborativeHealth Resources in Action Inc.

Al Vega
Healthy schools coordinator
Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
Dorchester