Setting a Context for Shared Decision Making

Boston Public Schools Master Plan
Boston, Massachusetts

Launched in September 2015 by Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the Boston School Committee, and Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Dr. Tommy Chang, BuildBPS is a process to develop a 10-Year Educational and Facilities Master Plan that provides a strategic framework for aligning BPS building construction and renovation projects with the district’s educational priorities. The plan is designed to guide capital investment to ensure that BPS facilities are equipped to accommodate innovative changes in learning and instruction.

In January 2017, Mayor Walsh announced that BuildBPS will be supported by a $1 billion investment in school construction and renovation. The master plan establishes the principles and priorities for making this historic investment in ways that will have the greatest impact on student success.

The Home of Many Firsts

Founded in 1647, BPS is the oldest school district in the country and the 73rd largest in America. It is home to 56,520 kindergarten through 12th grade students and 10,255 staff, including approximately 6,900 teachers, 1,500 aides, and 850 administrators. Today, BPS is one of the most diverse school districts in the nation; the district is 42% Hispanic, 35% Black, 14% White, and 9% Asian. Nearly one in every two students speaks a language other than English at home, and BPS students come from 138 different countries. One in five BPS students has a disability, and 70% are economically disadvantaged. 

BPS is the home of many firsts in the nation: the first public school (Boston Latin School, 1635), first public elementary school (Mather Elementary School, 1639), first public school system (1647), and first public high school (English High School, 1821). BPS is currently regarded as one of the highest-performing urban school districts in America.

What does the BuildBPS Master Plan include?

BuildBPS is composed of two main components: the written plan and the BuildBPS Dashboard. It specifically includes important updates to the district’s vision for student learning and instruction and the results of critical studies and compiles data that serves as the basis for setting priorities for new investments in BPS school buildings. The plan also presents a set of school building portfolio planning principles intended to guide the City’s and the District’s capital projects over the next decade and outlines the next phase, which focuses on deeper community engagement to guide decision-making. Finally, this plan frames the options for financing the next 10 years of capital improvements. The full written plan can be found at

BuildBPS is going to transform the way we plan, build, and renovate school facilities. And more: it’s going to unlock everything else we need to do to prepare students for 21st-century success. –Martin J. Walsh, Mayor

Data Visualization & Analysis Tool

In line with Mayor Walsh’s vision for analytics and the leveraging of data, the concept of a data dashboard was introduced by SMMA to encompass all building reports, digital assets, and various data visualizations. The BuildBPS Dashboard, housed on a web-based platform, provides the community with a complete overview of the district (during the 2015–16 school year), along with individual school data. Analysis tools and data visualizations also offer insight into the conditions of school buildings and educational environments, helping users more fully understand the relationships that BPS buildings have with one another and the City in general. The BuildBPS Dashboard is built to allow for the continuous updating of data. It can be found at

An interview with the City of Boston's Chief of Education, Turahn Dorsey. October 2017


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