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                                               Boston Mayoral Candidates

The next Mayor of Boston will substantially determine the priorities, leadership and funding for our public schools.  We asked a number of questions of the candidates for the office, and have included the responses below. 

Question

John Connolly

Marty Walsh

What do you believe are the top three priorities with regards to Boston Public Schools?

1.  Reduce the central school department and reinvest the savings in the classroom and in building flexible and autonomous schools.

2.  Extend the school day and provide opportunities for expanded learning time through community partnerships.

3.  Partner with non-profits and educational institutions to recruit, train, and develop the best principals

The Walsh campaign staff responded to the request as follows:

“I think all of those questions are addressed in these documents, so I am hoping you will find them there. Unfortunately, I don’t currently have the resources to tackle the questionnaire.”

Education Policy

Future of School Buildings

Early Education

What specifically would you do to improve the quality of Level 3 schools in Boston?

 

·    Provide Level 3 schools - and all Boston Public Schools - with the level of autonomy that innovation, pilot, turnaround, and in-district charter schools have. When we give schools more autonomy, we have to make sure that they all have the best leadership we can find.

·    Partner with nonprofits and educational institutions to recruit and develop the highest-caliber principals and empower them to make hiring and budget decisions and extend their school day.

 

 

Question

John Connolly

Marty Walsh

What are the most important objectives

for a new Superintendent?

 

I will hire a superintendent who will get rid of dysfunction and bureaucracy and push resources to the schools. Our next superintendent should:

·    Have a bold, long-range vision for our schools and a detailed, well-thought out strategy for implementation, beginning with a clear commitment to improving quality in every school in every neighborhood.

·    Value the empowerment of school leaders through budget, staffing, and curriculum autonomies.

·    Have proven experience in developing strong principals who are encouraged to innovate.

·    Understand the value of family engagement and keep an open line of communication with parents on all issue areas.

 

 

What would you do with regards to charter schools?

My main focus is to make sure that every school - whether charter or district - is a great school for all children. We need to get away from the “district vs. charters” paradigm and instead collaborate to bring the best practices of all high-quality schools, both district and charter, to every school in the city. To accomplish that, I will usher in a new era of partnership between the Boston Public Schools and Boston charter schools. We will work together to help BPS make every school high quality and to help Boston charter schools lower their attrition rates and improve their ELL and Special Education services. Under a new partnership, Boston Public Schools and Boston charter schools will file legislation jointly to give every school true autonomy and a longer school day, develop a joint long-term school facilities plan, and collaborate on principal and teacher development. We should also have a common application for all schools and a unified system for tracking student outcomes.

 

 

Question

John Connolly

Marty Walsh

Would you make any changes to the new assignment plan approved by the School Committee? If so, what changes would you support?

·    Yes I would make changes. I believe we need a school assignment plan that will guarantee every family a seat at a high quality school close to home. I don't believe the new plan will do this. It certainly won't end wait lists and it will still subject families to a lottery where some win and some lose.

·    After a series of committee hearings I held in May 2012 and small-group meetings with hundreds of parents across the city throughout the spring and summer of 2012, I joined with a coalition of elected officials in October 2012 to put forth the Quality Choice Plan, which was supported by over 7,000 Bostonians. It can be read in full at www.qualitychoiceplan.com.

 

 

Are you willing to appoint community-based task forces to work with BPS on (a) the future of schools in the downtown neighborhoods; and (b) the future of the new 585 Commercial Street school?

Yes, yes

 

Would you work to place a new elementary school in the Fenway/Back Bay area, a large section of the city with no public elementary schools, to serve families living in those neighborhoods and in other neighborhoods?

 

Yes. If we want families to stay in Boston when their children reach school age, then we need to have high-quality schools in every neighborhood.

 

Question

John Connolly

Marty Walsh

The list of facility needs within Boston Public Schools is long and expensive. How do you propose addressing those needs, and where would you get the money to pay for them?

·    I have long advocated for the BPS leadership to develop a long-term facilities plan that would guide these decisions by matching the supply of seats with the demand, reflecting parent and community input, and addressing the $3 billion backlog that Boston schools face in needed new construction, repair, and maintenance.

·    I have proposed a new initiative called Building Blocks, which would provide accelerated review of institutions’ development projects, with a full community process, on a guaranteed timeline. If their projects are approved, institutions in return commit to building or renovating a BPS facility.

·    I will work to fully utilize MSBA funds through improved applications and the implementation of a long-term facilities plan.

 

What non-school related things would you do to keep families living in the downtown neighborhoods?

 

·    We need a housing plan that will prioritize a holistic approach aimed at increasing the supply of affordable housing and middle-market housing in Boston. We need to give young artists, young professionals, and young families a path from rental to ownership and from 1 bedroom to 2-3 bedroom units. This requires a development, zoning, and permitting process that is driven from a thoughtful plan, a transparent process, and a customer-friendly, efficient city government.

·    We have to keep our streets, parks, and other public places safe, clean, and well-maintained; make the city more pedestrian, bicycle, and transit friendly by investing in bike infrastructure and a reliable, modern system of public transit; and ensure that city services are easily accessible.

 

Website

connollyforboston.com

martywalsh.org

Endorsements:

·    The Boston Globe

·    The Boston Herald

·    Bay State Banner

·    Bay Windows

·    South End News

·    State Rep. Jay Livingstone

·    State Rep. Nick Collins

·    Paul Demakis, Former State Representative

·    Ian Bowles, former Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs

·    Christopher Gabrieli, Co-Founder of Massachusetts 2020

·    City Councilor Felix Arroyo

·    John Barros

·    Congressman Michael Capuano

·    State Senator Sonia Chiang-Diaz

·    State Rep. Dan Cullinane

·    State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry

·    State Rep. Gloria Fox

·    Charlotte Golar-Richie

·    State Rep. Carlos Henriquez

·    State Rep. Russell Holmes

·    City Councilor Tito Jackson

·    Arline Isaacson, LGBT Activist

Link to full response to questionnaire

John Connolly

 

Due to space considerations, Mr. Connolly’s responses are summarized; the complete responses can be found by following the link in the bottom row. 

Be sure to vote on November 5th!

                                                                                                                         Updated October 24, 2013