Today was the first day of school for grades 1-12 in Boston Public Schools. Pre-K and Kindergarten start Monday, September 11. The administration has several new plans this year, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Superintendent Tommy Chang spoke to WGBH's Morning Edition about changes for the upcoming school year and the first day back to school. 

New Bus Routes

This year the district is using a new scheduling system, based on an algorithm crafted by two MIT doctoral students. The new system cut about fifty routes from last year’s schedule and resulted in the layoffs of dozens of drivers. Officials say some buses will be more crowded, but they are confident more students will arrive at school on time. The new routing system is expected to save the district up to $5 million. Chang also said the new system will reduce carbon emissions.

New Boilers and Windows

Chang said that the district invested $40 million and partnered with Massachusetts School Building Authority to upgrade boilers and windows over the summer.

New School Lunches

Walsh noted that BPS has partnered with a new school lunch vendor to provide more fresh food options. Revolution Foods starts its three-year contract with the district this week and will provide 64,000 meals every school day. The shift comes after student and parents complained about too much frozen food.

Breakfast in the Classroom

In fifty classrooms around the city, BPS will be serving breakfast at students' desks after the bell rings. Walsh and the district will be looking at the program’s effectiveness and the potential to expand it in upcoming years.

Increased Graduation Rates

Walsh said the district’s high school graduation rate peaked last year at 74 percent. He added that although he’s proud, 74 percent is a C, and there’s room for improvement.

Extended School Day

This year, BPS is lengthening the school day for students at 38 schools, adding what Chang says equates to 20 more days of learning. The district hopes the extended day will give more students time for enrichment programs like foreign language classes, arts programs, and personalized instruction. Chang says the additional learning time will help close achievement gaps.

Listen to Morning Edition's Debrief with Mayor Marty Walsh.



Listen to Morning Edition's Debrief with Superintendent Tommy Chang.


WGBH News’ coverage of K-12 education is made possible with support from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.