Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wants the city to provide pre-kindergarten for all four year old students. The prekindergarten plan was one of many education initiatives Walsh pushed for in his State of the City address, including spending $1 billion on new school buildings.
Walsh's plan to offer free pre-kindergarten for every four year old in the city. It would be paid for with tourism tax revenue that currently goes to the Convention Center. The Dorchester Democrat also wants the state to revisit how it funds municipal schools, something he said could bring millions in additional funding for Boston. Walsh also introduced a ten-year facilities plan for Boston Public Schools that he says will invest $1 billion into the system.
"We will create high-quality 21st-century classrooms for every student, connected to every neighborhood, college, and workplace in our city," Walsh said.
Walsh's speech comes less than a week after Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson announced his own run for the mayor's office. In his announcement, Jackson criticized Walsh's administration for budget cuts to the school system that resulted in thousands of students walking out in protest last year.
Hours before his third state of the city address, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced plans that would rewrite the formula for how local education is funded for cities and towns. The plan would address how charter schools are financed and could bring the city between $35 million to $150 million annually, according to a statement from Walsh's office.
"We are working every day to close opportunity and achievement gaps, meet the diverse needs of every kind of student, and make our district schools top choices for every family in every neighborhood," Walsh said in the statement. "I am committed to working with our partners on Beacon Hill to fix education funding formulas and getting every student on a pathway to success from pre-kindergarten through college and career, and I want to thank our legislative partners for their willingness to sponsor and support these reforms."
Boston recently completed a financial planning analysis that identified several cost-saving measure the school system could adopt, including "streamlining the district's central office, maximizing efficiencies in transportation, and negotiating for a responsible Boston Teachers Union contract," according to the statement.
The plan also exposed what City Hall calls "stagnant state education revenue," which it hopes to alter with the new legislation.
Walsh's plan aim to "redirect existing tax revenue produced in Boston back to its residents."
Walsh praised Boston's police, clergy, non-profits, parents and young residents for keeping the city safe. Boston cops took 777 guns off the street last year, Walsh said, and shootings dropped by six percent.
"But the work is far from over. We had 45 homicides in our city last year. That’s unacceptable. One is too many. And zero is our goal. To get there we have to keep digging up the roots of violence and sowing the seeds of opportunity," Walsh said.
Walsh said he wants to turn the MBTA's Fairmount Line, which runs from downtown, through Dorchester and Roxbury and on to Readville, a "jobs corridor" with new industry.
"People talk about bringing back manufacturing. We are doing it, and doing it the right way, with the jobs of the future and the preparation our young people need to build it," Walsh said.
In those areas, and the rest of Boston's neighborhoods, Walsh wants to continue fostering affordable housing development and keep residents from being priced out of their homes as rents rise.
Walsh said he'll work to get five bills protecting homeowners from foreclosure through the State House.
"We’re going to use every tool at our disposal to keep Boston a city of neighborhoods and a city for everyone," Walsh said.