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Boston students languish in substandard school buildings

Lawrence Harmon’s column regarding my position on Mattapan High School fails to appreciate the crumbling infrastructure at the majority of our Boston Public Schools and my six years of advocacy for revamping Boston’s high schools (“Connolly stumbles in vote pursuit,” Op-ed, July 6).

Boston’s schools need nearly $3 billion in new construction, maintenance, and renovations. Chronic mismanagement by the BPS bureaucracy leaves most Boston students attending high school in substandard facilities. It is no wonder we now face declining enrollment and many of our high schools have graduation rates hovering around 50 percent.

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Part of revamping our high schools requires a long-term facilities plan with creative financing mechanisms, such as my “building blocks” proposal to enable large-scale developments to seek fast-track review in exchange for funding new school construction or major renovations.

Combining new programming with upgraded facilities, as in my 2008 proposal for an Environmental Sciences Academy in a state-of-the-art green building, would offer an opportunity to renew our high schools. A Mattapan high school would represent one way to bring this idea to fruition.

Our students deserve the best, and giving them the best may be the only way to reverse the current decline of our high schools.

John R. Connolly

City councilor at large

Boston

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