Mayor Wu and Superintendent Skipper Announce Vision for Boston High Schools and Student Success
Today, joined by educators, school leaders, and business, union, higher education, and community leaders with deep ties to the Boston Public Schools, Mayor Michelle Wu and Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Mary Skipper shared their vision for BPS high schools, rooted in challenging coursework and academic support for all students. They also unveiled a set of major facilities and programmatic commitments that represent the most significant and ambitious agenda for Boston’s public high schools in decades.
The four principles of the high school vision are:
1) Academic rigor: All schools will have coursework and programs that challenge students and provide the support they need to excel academically, including through expanding APs and STEM programs, dual language instruction, inclusive education, and rigorous vocational and technical education.
2) Partnerships to support schools: High schools will draw on the wealth of opportunities across our City, leveraging partnerships with private industry, higher education, health care and arts and cultural institutions, athletic and community-based organizations to expand opportunities for students in the classroom and beyond. This includes alignment with employers around college and career pathways, career and technical education, and expansion of Community Hub Schools and integrated supports.
3) College and career pathways for all: BPS will give all high school students access to college-level coursework, building off the recent expansion of early college pathways in six high schools. Through early college and dual enrollment opportunities at Boston’s colleges and universities, students gain access to college-level courses while earning free credits towards a college degree.
4) State-of-the-art facilities: Through an unprecedented investment in facilities, Mayor Wu and BPS will build and renovate high schools with the scale and size to meet our students’ aspirations, continuing the shift toward 7-12 high schools, and allowing for expanded advanced and specialty coursework, academic supports, sports, arts, early college, student clubs, and other before- and after-school programming.
Mayor Wu and Superintendent Skipper made the announcement at the Malcolm X Boulevard campus in Roxbury which currently houses both the Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science.
“Boston has everything we need to offer our high school students an education that prepares them to achieve their dreams,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “We are laying a foundation grounded in rigorous academics, partnerships with Boston's world class institutions and employers, and state-of-the-art facilities that prepare our students for college and careers in every sector of our economy. We welcome the partnership of families and community groups, businesses, unions, colleges, hospitals, and proud BPS alumni in this shared vision for our students’ success.”
“Today’s announcement furthers our commitment to creating a quality high school education experience for our students and families,” said Superintendent Mary Skipper. “These four components of academic rigor, community hub strategy with connections to Boston’s world-class institutions, access to college and career pathways, and new facilities create innovative opportunities. The vision we have outlined with the Mayor will help students and families thrive for years to come. I am excited for the O’Bryant and Madison Park communities and am grateful to the village for those who have already given community input and support. We look forward to continuing the conversation through an engagement process that brings together all of the voices of our constituents and partners in this work.”
Mayor Wu and Superintendent Skipper also announced a commitment to rebuild and expand the Madison Park Technical Vocational High School into a nation-leading and fully modernized vocational-technical school across the entire Malcolm X Boulevard campus in the heart of Roxbury. A design process to reimagine the campus will begin this summer, building on a visioning study that engaged Madison Park students, families, educators, staff, and partners over the last school year. The expansion will more than double the student population to 2,200 students in grades 7-12 (up from 1,000 today), and become a hub for workforce development in the heart of Roxbury – serving Boston’s young people and adult learners alike. The Mayor has proposed an initial $45 million in the FY24-28 Capital Plan for school design, with additional funds for construction planned for next year. Construction is anticipated to begin in early 2025, with a phased construction process to allow students to continue learning on-site.
Mayor Wu and Superintendent Skipper also announced the formation of a new Madison Park Steering Committee (a general Advisory Committee under ch. 74) to evaluate opportunities for new career and technical education (CTE) programs that align with Boston’s growth sectors, strengthen existing CTE programs, and rebuild Madison Park’s career pathways and partnerships with Boston-area employers and labor unions. The three new co-chairs of the Steering Committee are Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President and CEO James E. Rooney, Friends of Madison Park member Louis Elisa, and IBEW Local 103 member and Madison Park alumna Renee Dozier. Early stakeholder conversations through the visioning study have proposed new CTE programs in environmental science and technology, biotechnology, early childhood education, robotics, and aviation technology. In an early commitment from the business company, the City announced that JetBlue has pledged to support a new aviation technology pathway.
“This announcement reflects decades of work, commitment, and advocacy by the Friends of Madison Park for our children, our community, and the City of Boston,” said longtime Madison Park educator and basketball coach Dennis Wilson, member of the Friends of Madison Park. “This has been long overdue and the Madison Park family is thrilled that this day has finally come.”
“The Chamber knows and understands the significant potential of Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, and we advocated for investments in the students, curriculum, buildings, and infrastructure as keys to improving the lives and careers of students,” said James E. Rooney, President & CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. “With the leadership of Mayor Wu and Superintendent Skipper, this new chapter of transformation and realignment will be meaningful for students and the employers and workplaces that will be strengthened with their skills and life experiences. As the Co-Chair of the Madison Park Steering Committee, I will continue to partner with Madison Park and the entire BPS system to ensure that every student receives the educational investments and ties to the business community that will lead to a meaningful career.”
Mayor Wu and Superintendent Skipper also announced plans to build a state-of-the-art STEM campus for the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science at the currently-vacant West Roxbury Education Complex. The renovated campus will support the O’Bryant in deepening its STEM programming in biomedical science, engineering, computer science, and other pathways, and allow O’Bryant students to benefit from expansive and modern athletic facilities, including multi-use fields; tennis and basketball courts; a running track with spectator stands; and a swimming pool. The proposal will enable the O’Bryant to grow from around 1,600 students to 2,000 students, adding 400 seats at the STEM-focused exam school. The Mayor has proposed an initial $18 million in the FY24-28 Capital Plan to begin demolition and school design, with additional funds for construction planned for next year to gut renovate the facility. Construction would begin in early 2025.
The City and BPS have begun mapping out a transportation plan that will allow students from all neighborhoods to fully participate in the O’Bryant community – not just for classes, but also for before- and after-school programming. The plan will include dedicated shuttles from transit hubs across Boston, including the West Roxbury commuter rail station, to connect students with the campus. The West Roxbury commuter rail station is readily accessible to BPS students from South Station, Back Bay, Ruggles, or Forest Hills using their M7 Passes.
Mayor Wu and Superintendent Skipper have asked Professor Richard O’Bryant, director of the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute at Northeastern University, O’Bryant School alumnus, and son of John D. O’Bryant, to chair an Alumni Steering Committee of Boston Technical High School and O’Bryant alumni to advise on the design, construction, and program of the renovated school.
“I am in full support of and excited about what this opportunity represents for the O’Bryant, the school that I love, bears my father’s name, and where my son will be graduating next year. The O’Bryant will have the state-of-the-art STEM campus that it so richly deserves,” said Dr. Richard O’Bryant. “When my brothers and I toured the West Roxbury Education Complex with Mayor Wu and Superintendent Skipper, it was easy to see how a fully renovated facility there would fulfill the vision for the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science. It will become the gold standard for STEM education in Boston. I am grateful to Mayor Wu and Superintendent Skipper for their commitment to this vision, their appreciation of our diverse, inclusive culture, and for their promise to build a school that will inspire the next generation of O’Bryant students.”
Mayor Wu and Superintendent Skipper announced that Charlestown High School (CHS) will become the district’s first open enrollment high school to offer early college and dual enrollment to every student through a greatly expanded partnership with its neighbor, Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC). The expansion will draw on CHS’ existing early college pathways in business, health, and technology, but will consider new pathways and student support to serve greater numbers of students. BPS will place dedicated staff on the BHCC campus to support early college students, ensuring that all students, including students with disabilities and multilingual learners, have the support they need to excel in challenging coursework.
Charlestown High School will also launch BPS’ second Year 13 program, following the recently-announced program at Fenway High School, through which a cohort of CHS students will take an entire year of courses at BHCC, accelerating their pathway to a college degree. Many students in Year 13 will be close to or attain an Associate’s degree after their year, and will also have a clear pathway from their early college coursework to a Bachelor's degree and graduate studies.
“BHCC stands shoulder to shoulder with the City of Boston and BPS to deliver accessible, effective, and outstanding higher education programming to the students of Boston, and our own neighborhood high school in Charlestown,” said Pam Eddinger, President of Bunker Hill Community College. “This expanded commitment to early college and career pathways means more Charlestown High School students will finish high school, go to college, and have the opportunity to pursue a brighter future.”
Mayor Wu and Superintendent Skipper also announced that the dual language Margarita Muñiz Academy in Jamaica Plain will expand to include the 7th and 8th grades, reflecting the district’s commitment to dual language instruction and continuing the shift toward 7-12 high schools.
Today’s announcement builds on Mayor Wu’s commitment to expanding opportunities for Boston’s youth including recent expansions of Early College and Innovation Pathways programming and the Summer Youth Jobs program and the launch of a partnership between the Public Works Department and Madison Park Technical Vocational High School to train high school students in electric vehicle maintenance.
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