Boston to lend out iPads, add 30,000 housing units
In his annual address to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau on Monday, Mayor Thomas Menino announced the Housing Boston 2020 Plan, which will create 30,000 new housing units in Boston in the next seven years.
The plans will spur the city’s fastest rate of growth yet.
Boston’s housing supply has grown faster than at any time in the last 50 years, with 20,000 housing units created between 2000 and 2010. Noting that today’s housing market is a markedly different one, Menino said the city will work with a wide range of experts to prepare for the housing needs of all Bostonians.
In his speech, Menino also outlined the city’s progress and goals for education, housing, economic development, youth investment and working women. Citing financial stability as the catalyst for Boston’s “incredible pace of growth,” Menino also announced plans to improve quality in all Boston public schools; connect students and families with technology in the form of a new Boston E-Lit program; and increased access to the city’s public libraries.
As part of his technology push, Menino said the library-loaned iPads will come “preloaded with bestselling books and apps to connect them with job searching, social media and language-learning tools.”
“The fact is, we have more jobs than ever before in Boston. We have more development under way than ever. We have more young workers per capita than any other city,” Mayor Menino said. “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.”
Menino’s speech focused on the city’s efforts to ensure Boston’s students are keeping pace with the growing economy, and pointed to years of progress in education reform, growth of in-district charter schools and teacher evaluation. He also spoke of more recent achievements, including a historic change to the city’s student assignment process that will give more students quality schools, close to home; new enrollment projections for Boston Public Schools; and the city’s intentions to open a new downtown school by fall 2016.
“Our test scores are up. Our graduation rates are the highest they have ever been. Our students are outperforming their peers in other big cities,” Menino said. “Our schools are better than ever, but they aren’t as good as they will be.”
Menino also announced School Committee member Meg Campbell and Boston University School of Education Dean Dr. Hardin Coleman will co-chair a new Quality Review Panel to be modeled on the successful work of the External Advisory Committee on School Choice. The panel will carry on the same mandate: to increase quality in all Boston public schools.
He urged attendees to stand with him on statewide education reform legislation that would extend freedoms in hiring and learning time to many more schools across the district.
Menino also pointed to Boston’s record of success when it comes to connecting Boston residents with necessary technology. He announced a new push in digital and electronic learning called Boston E-Lit, which will bring 10,000 more mobile devices to Boston public schools over the next two years. In May, an e-reader lending program at the Boston Public Library will enable residents to borrow an iPad preloaded with bestselling books and apps to connect them with job searching, social media and language-learning tools.
As part of his housing plan, Menino also announced an $11 million investment to complete the overhaul of Millennium Park in West Roxbury, where families will be able to take advantage of a new athletic track, multiuse fields, two tennis courts, a football field and new lighting.
For the first time, the mayor will set aside $1 million in the city’s budget for youth to allocate through “participatory budgeting,” in an effort to educate youth on how the budget works and allow them to decide how funds should be invested. He also implored attendees to participate in his summer jobs program, with the aim to see 40 new firms hire Boston youth for the first time this summer and make 2013 another record-breaking year for the program.
Following his proposals from earlier this year to make Boston the premier city for working women, Menino also announced the chair of the new Women’s Workforce Council, Cathy E. Minehan, dean of the School of Management at Simmons College.