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State Approves Budget for New School Building in Chinatown

Facility Will Be Future Home of Josiah Quincy Upper School

BOSTON - Friday, October 30, 2020 - The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) voted unanimously on Wednesday, October 28 to approve the budget for the new Josiah Quincy Upper School (JQUS) building at 249 Harrison Avenue in Boston. Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the City of Boston, and Boston Public Schools (BPS) have diligently pursued a permanent home for the school since 2011, and the recent vote marks a significant step forward in the ongoing project. 

“The approval of this fully accessible, state-of-the-art facility reaffirms the City of Boston’s commitment to preserving our communities and investing in the education of our young people,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I am grateful for our continued partnership with the MSBA, which has resulted in beautiful new school buildings and dozens of facility renovations in schools throughout our City." 

Construction will begin in 2021, and the new building is slated to open in time for the 2024-25 school year. Serving 650 students in grades 6 through 12, the proposed modern, six-story school will house learning spaces for music, art, and science as well as a gymnasium, library, auditorium, and cafeteria. There will also be an outdoor instructional space on the roof featuring photovoltaics and a school garden to promote active learning about the environment. The project has a $193 million budget, and will result in upwards of $52 million in reimbursement to the City of Boston.

JQUS opened in 1999 as a pilot program for sixth grade students from Josiah Quincy Elementary in Chinatown. Students, staff, and families hoped to extend both the educational and cultural atmosphere of the elementary school to the new program. In the following decades, JQUS outgrew its original facilities. The school now serves over 500 students in grades 6 through 12, and every student is enrolled in its nationally-recognized International Baccalaureate (IB) program, including those with disabilities and English Language Learners. This rigorous curriculum requires a full range of academic, social, cultural and physical education courses. 

“It’s always exciting when we move closer to providing more students in the City of Boston with innovative 21st century learning environments,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “I am thrilled to see this project continue to develop. The new JQUS facility will support our high school redesign work to increase rigor, close opportunity gaps, and advance equitable learning experiences for all of our students, from preschool to career."

In 2011, the City proposed constructing a new building to better accommodate JQUS’s growing interdisciplinary programs. Because of its close ties to Quincy Elementary and the surrounding communities, rebuilding the upper school in Chinatown was a primary goal. Today’s vote enables the City and the school district to keep JQUS in Chinatown for generations to come, allowing students and staff to build on their existing partnerships in the community. 

“Education is a cornerstone of Chinese culture,” said JQUS Head of School Richard Chang. “Fittingly, the new school building will provide both an excellent International Baccalaureate academic program and a social and cultural gathering place for Chinatown neighbors and organizations.” 

In the past several years Mayor Walsh has strengthened the City's relationship with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). This has resulted in an unprecedented amount of collaborative work with BPS and the City of Boston’s Public Facilities Department, leveraging over $100 million in reimbursement for projects like the new Dearborn 6-12 STEM Academy which opened in Roxbury in 2018, renovation of Boston Arts Academy in the Fenway, currently in construction, and the Carter School in the South End, which is currently in design. In addition, the City has been approved for 27 repair projects, resulting in $41 million in reimbursement from the MSBA at various BPS schools since 2015 to create more energy efficient buildings by replacing roofs, windows and boilers.