We’re improving the way we assign kids to school, and we’re driving student achievement through new reforms. And something else is evolving quickly, too: technology is changing the way kids learn.
Boston has a record of success here – from being the first city in America to wire its schools for the Internet to programs like Technology Goes Home.
Now, some of our students are engaged in robotics and game development.
Today, I’m thrilled to announce our latest initiative, Boston e-lit – a new push in digital and electronic learning. Its first task is to achieve our new goal: Bringing 10,000 more mobile devices to the Boston Public Schools over the next two years. As the world goes mobile, our students must develop these digital skills to get ready for college and a career.
Our e-lit effort won’t be limited to our schools. In May, we will begin an e-reader lending program at the Boston Public library. Residents will be able to borrow an iPad preloaded with bestselling books and apps to connect them with job searching, social media, and language-learning tools. We’ll also add on-demand book printing.
Together, we will make available the latest digital tools to all of Boston’s residents.
As other cities have slowed down investments in education and in other areas, we have been able to speed up ours. Our smart financial management enables our swift progress.
Just this month, Standard and Poor’s re-affirmed our City’s AA+ bond rating and Moody’s confirmed our Aaa. Days later we sold $145 million in bonds at 2.3 percent. The market shares our confidence in Boston.
We also retired old debt, saving taxpayers $2 million.
We’ve been able to borrow affordably to re-invest in our neighborhoods. This year, we have invested over $200 million—a record for Boston. We’ve put it to use at the Ferdinand building in Dudley, at the Flaherty Pool in Roslindale, and for re-paving more roads than at any time in a decade.
But again, the most important thing building here, is our progress.
Next, we will invest more than $11 million to complete the overhaul of Millennium Park in West Roxbury. Children will play on rebuilt fields and courts, and families will take advantage of a new athletic track, multi-use fields, two tennis courts, and new lighting. We will complete a project that turned a one-time landfill into a neighborhood jewel.
And for the first time, I will set aside $1 million in our budget for our youth to allocate through “Participatory Budgeting.” Our young people will learn how the budget works and decide where to invest these funds.
We can literally see the fast speed at which our housing market is growing.
New units are sprouting up across our city, bringing new residents and more vitality to our neighborhoods.
In fact, Boston’s housing supply has grown faster than at any time in the last 50 years. From 2000 to 2010, we created 20,000 housing units in Boston, injecting $6 billion of investment into the economy. 6,400 of those are set aside as affordable, including nearly 600 for the homeless.
And we have also seen more than 10,000 new dorm beds go up, creating housing for students and freeing up apartments for families.
But, today’s market is different. We need a thoughtful new plan to meet the challenges and opportunities of the day. That’s why I’m proud to announce the start of our Housing Boston 2020 Plan. Its first order of business will be to lay the groundwork for the creation of 30,000 new units by 2020 – our fastest pace yet. We will work with experts inside and outside of government to prepare our city for the housing needs of all of our people, not just some of our people.
We see progress in so many places. We see fresher ideas building on already fresh ones.
We set about this year to make Boston a better city for working women. Three weeks ago, I met with women from across our city to put together our Advisory Council. Two weeks ago, I hosted a meeting with women business owners to talk about their unique needs. Last week, we had our first session to help Boston’s young women negotiate for better pay, right in my own office! And today I am pleased to announce we are joined by the chair of our new Women’s Workforce Council: Cathy Minehan. All of us together will make sure Boston becomes the first big city in the country to achieve pay equity for women.
We also have an ambitious green agenda. Last year we paved the way with neighborhood efforts to weatherize homes and a unique program to solarize roofs. In January, I announced new efforts to prepare for climate change. In February, we detailed new findings about the threats from sea level rise and new measures in the city to address it. And we have before the city council this week a new ordinance that will do for our buildings what consumer-friendly ratings have done for cars: Give commercial tenants better choices and drive down energy use in Boston.Continued...