Improving school quality the focus of BPS budget proposal
Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Carol R. Johnson last night presented a preliminary budget recommendation to the Boston School Committee for the 2014 fiscal year (2013-2014 school year). The proposed budget totals $934.4 million, a 6.9% increase compared to the current appropriation from the City of Boston, and is balanced. The budget proposal focuses on increasing school quality throughout the district and is backed by a major new investment from Mayor Thomas M. Menino.
“To me this is more than just a budget. This proposal reflects our commitment to ensuring every child in our city has access to a quality education,” said Dr. Johnson. “The Mayor’s added resources have given us the opportunity to invest in our schools and programs despite fewer dollars from the federal and state government.”
Last week, Mayor Menino announced during his annual State of the City address that he would infuse an additional $30 million over three years to BPS aimed at increasing quality through the use of additional class time, school partnerships, teaching and leadership support and facilities improvements.
Other investments outlined in the budget presentation include:
- A $30 million increase in funds that go directly to schools
- $2.6 million more for schools with high concentrations of students living near or below the poverty line
- $4.5 million for targeted investments in the district’s lowest performing; this budget sustains the extended school days and partnerships that have helped students in the district’s low performing schools make notable progress in key academic areas.
- $500,000 in school leadership development aimed at supporting and growing outstanding principals and headmasters in every school
For the third year, BPS is using a formula known as weighted student funding to determine how funds are distributed to each school. The formula allocates funds to schools by assigning a “weight” to each student based on each child’s individual needs. Each weight has a dollar amount attached to it and follows the students wherever they chose to attend school in Boston. This system ensures equitable and transparent funding of all schools.
The FY14 budget supports an expected enrollment increase of nearly 1,200 students for the next school year. District enrollment is expected to be more than 58,200 next year – a level not seen since 2005.
BPS began the budget planning process facing a $75.9 million funding challenge, brought on by a major reduction in federal and state grants and increased costs. Next year, for example, the district projects state funding will support just 14 percent of the BPS budget – less than half of what the state provided fifteen years ago.
The city’s target appropriation, as well as strategies to reduce expenditures by eliminating some vacant positions, increasing operating efficiencies and delaying some grant spending have allowed BPS to balance the budget. In addition, the Mayor’s Quality Improvement Funds, announced during his State of the City address, allow the district to invest in extended learning opportunities, school partnerships, teaching and leadership development, and technology and facilities upgrades – prioritized for schools and communities where access to quality schools must increase.
The School Committee will hold budget hearings to hear from families regarding the BPS budget.
· Monday Feb. 11, 6pm: Harbor Middle School, Dorchester (This event is postponed due to weather)
· Thursday March 7, 6pm: Orchard Gardens K-8, Roxbury
· Wednesday March 13, 5pm: 26 Court Street, Boston
· Wednesday March 27, 6pm: 26 Court Street, Boston
Additional budget details, including individual school budget spreadsheets, are available at http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/budget.