Below are Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s prepared remarks in a speech at the Boston Municipal Research Bureau’s annual meeting.
Thank you, John. And thank you to Sam Tyler and the Municipal Research Bureau. You advocate for many good ideas and you rightfully push back against bad ones, like re-politicizing the Boston School Committee. This proposal would only put the special interests ahead of our kids’ interests. Thank you for speaking up.
This is the 20th time I’ve reported on Boston and its financial affairs to the Bureau. Most years I’ve shared good news and bold plans. Other years, I’ve come here as we battled national recessions. As I speak with you today, I have never been more confident about Boston. Look around and you see that Boston’s many successes are only half the story. It’s the pace of our progress that sets us apart.
We sense this momentum perhaps most of all in our economy.
We broke ground on $1.6 billion of development last year, which sounds like a lot until you realize that we expect to triple that number this year.
Our universities and hospitals have $1.2 billion of construction underway, which is impressive, until you note that Harvard, Northeastern, Boston University, and Suffolk all have active plans to grow more. Meds and eds are job creators here in Boston and around the country. That’s why we will continue to fight against the Sequester. Once the Federal Government cuts funding for new discoveries, China will jump at the chance to take our place. We cannot give ground in Boston’s leading industry! Join us in speaking out against these foolish cuts.
Earlier this month we issued a report saying that 200 new companies had brought 4,000 new jobs to the Innovation District. But the pace of progress is such that new arrivals like CareCloud and NetSuite have already made that report outdated.
The fact is, we have more jobs than ever before in Boston. We have more development underway than ever. We have more young workers per capita than any other city. The Globe captured our economy well a few weeks ago with the cover story that read, “Boston is humming.”
But, we’re not done yet. I’m pleased to announce today that the latest ‘W’ coming to Fenway is Wegmans. It will open in the Landmark Center and continue the progress in that neighborhood.
I’m also happy that in Downtown Crossing we are no longer talking delay – we are talking dates. Construction at the old Filenes site begins late spring!
With the new owners of the Bronstein Center, we plan to make the Marine Industrial Park an even better home to innovative companies.
With a new e-permitting program that comes on-line next month, we will streamline permits. We have already cut average wait times in half over the last six months.
So, our economy is moving fast, and we are making sure our students keep pace with it. If you look at all we have done in the last three years – from education reform to in-district charters to teacher evaluation – you see the progress. But if you look at just three days this month, you see the pace of that progress picking up.
On March 13th, the School Committee passed a historic change to our student assignment process that will give more students quality schools, close to home.
That very same day, the State approved our second in-district charter for UP Academy; this one at the Marshall School in Dorchester. We expect UP will deliver the same “best in state results” there as they did at the Gavin in South Boston.
Two days later, BPS announced enrollment is projected to hit an eight year high.
And later that same day, I announced that the City would purchase Mitt Romney’s old headquarters and re-purpose it into a downtown school. When you have young families who want to live in your downtown and want to send their kids to your public schools it says a lot about your city and it says a lot about your schools.
This was a lot of progress in one week. But we aren’t done by any means. Our test scores are up. Our graduation rates are the highest they have ever been. Our students are out-performing their peers in other big cities. Our schools are better than ever, but they aren’t as good as they will be.
Today, I am glad to announce the two co-chairs of our new Quality Advisory Panel: Meg Campbell and Dean Hardin Coleman. The Panel will build on the success of the External Advisory Committee. And it will work – together with my commitment of $30 million – to increase quality in all of our schools.
In addition, I am asking you to support my reform legislation at the State House. I am fighting to gain the power to extend freedoms in hiring and learning time to many more schools across the district. Stand with me on this issue. We shouldn’t wait for a school to fail before we give it the tools to succeed!Continued...