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Thought Leadership Thursday

Supporting the Next Generation of Learners

Jim McDonald

Thought Leadership Thursday Article

Supporting the Next Generation of Learners
October 20, 2022
First Deputy Treasurer
Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Dear Colleagues:

One of the key factors in providing an incredible education to our children is through investment into 21st century learning environments, where teachers are able to provide a top-notched education for all students. In Massachusetts, the agency responsible for partnering with local school districts to make this happen is the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA).

The MSBA was created in 2004 to reform the process of funding capital improvement projects in the Commonwealth’s K-12 public schools. At the MSBA, we strive to work with communities to create affordable, sustainable, and energy efficient schools across Massachusetts so that our children have a safe, comfortable, and well-equipped environment to learn.

In April of 2020, the MSBA implemented a Post Occupancy Evaluation Program as part of the grant process. This program allows for the MSBA to follow up with a district within approximately three years of the substantial completion of a project to collect building performance data. The collection of technical data, along with feedback from the school district and building occupants, enables the MSBA to apply lessons learned to future school building projects. The data is also shared with the district.

Since 2004, the MSBA has made over $15.9 billion in payments to cities, towns, and regional school districts for the improvements of school buildings. Throughout our efforts, we have advocated for "green" sustainable building design for all MSBA-funded school buildings.

We believe that schools should not only be places to foster learning, but they should be built to fully support current students and the generations to come. MSBA guidelines include a base level of sustainable requirements for our projects, such as air quality and energy efficiency levels. We also have provisions that award a school district an additional 2 percent of a project’s eligible costs if the project achieves higher levels of sustainability. The total additional reimbursement from the MSBA through this program to date is roughly $216 million, averaging approximately $1.25 million per project.

Currently, the MSBA is conducting a pilot project in procuring maximum quantities of nontoxic interior finishes, as well as nontoxic furniture, from manufacturers that agree to remove several classes of chemicals from their materials. As we learn from the MSBA’s pilot program, our hope is that the market will meet the demand of Massachusetts school districts and offer a wide breadth of healthy and safe interior products at competitive prices.

We want our children to grow up in healthy, sustainable environments that contribute to their growth as impactful members of society. As CEO of the MSBA, I am so proud of our team’s continued sustainability efforts to create lasting, positive impacts for children across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Sincerely,

James A. MacDonald
First Deputy Treasurer of the Commonwealth
Chief Executive Officer of the Massachusetts School Building Authority

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