A report from the Center for Green Schools shows a $271 billion gap, representing only 50 percent of what is actually needed to modernize and bring school buildings across the country up to working order (“Tab to fix schools would be $542b,” Page A8, March 13). The operations and maintenance budget for the Boston schools has been reduced by about half since 2008, and capital projects for large repairs and renovations continue to be significantly underfunded. The number of deferred maintenance projects has increased, and a small problem such as a leak could become an expensive roof replacement.
This imposes an impact on the health of students and staff. Asthma rates in the Boston schools continue to be among the highest in the state. Research on school building conditions shows a link between dilapidated buildings, poor indoor air quality, and asthma triggers such as mold and pests with students’ ability to be in class, healthy, and successful.
Although we agree with the report’s call for an updated national survey on the condition of America’s schools, Boston must address this crisis now by creating detailed, accurate information on the current state of our school building needs and a capital repair plan for the next five to 10 years. This would create greater transparency on what our real facility needs are and remove barriers for healthier teaching and learning environments.