BPS Budget Basics
Boston is home to the nation’s first public school and its oldest public elementary school. Boston Public Schools has long been at the forefront of ensuring every child, no matter who they are or where they come from, has access to high-quality educational opportunities. We are a national leader in early childhood education, and our students consistently outperform other large urban school districts in reading and math. Our commitment to public education is reflected in our budget. Including state and federal grants, we plan to spend $1.2B dollars next school year, and more than $20,000 per pupil for our 57,000 students.
How has BPS’ spending changed over time?
For next school year, our appropriation from the City of Boston will grow by an estimated $48 million. Six years ago, the City appropriation to BPS was $937M. In our proposed budget for next year, we expect a City appropriation of $1.109B in total, an increase of $170M and 18% over six years.
What does BPS invest in?
For many years we have focused on three research-backed investments: early childhood education, excellent teachers for every classroom, and more learning time for students. We’ve added 725 more students to our pre-K classrooms. We expanded the school day, effectively adding a month of school for students in elementary schools. We’ve invested in teacher salaries, maintaining our teachers’ salaries so that they are the highest paid professionals in Massachusetts and among the highest paid across the country. And we’ve invested so we can hire earlier in the year, which research shows brings great teachers to our City.
What are the new investments this year?
For the coming school year, we will not only maintain our commitment to those critical investments, but we’re also adding more money to school budgets. The FY19 proposal is rooted in the guiding principles developed by the Budget Equity Workgroup, and reflects a multi-year plan to operate efficiently while investing equitably. The hallmark of our FY19 proposal is deep investment in school budgets, with a continued focus on supporting our highest need students. In total, school budgets will increase $40M which includes approximately $30M towards higher teacher salaries and an additional $10 in further investments.
In particular, we're putting more money in the hands of schools serving our highest need students, those who face poverty, violence, and other challenges that impact their chances at the academic outcomes they are capable of.
We value the equitable, transparent and predictable benefits of Weighted Student Funding, but, we acknowledge that small year over year changes in enrollment can create difficult choices for schools. To that end, we are investing in the budgets of schools that are facing declining enrollment.
Lastly, we are also proposing a series of targeted high-impact investments in technology, training and innovation. These include a new technology platform for capturing teacher evaluation, funding to train new school leaders, and Becoming a Man, a program that serves young men of color by providing school-based group counseling and mentoring services.]
How does the BPS budget work?
Every school in BPS has its own budget. Almost two thirds of BPS’ money is spent on school budgets. The majority of dollars outside of “school budgets” fund people and things you see when you walk through a school -- custodians, buses, special education staff -- but those types of expenses are paid for by a central budget. The Superintendent’s team, the legal office, and other funding buckets typically associated with the “central office” portion of the budget makes up 5.6% of the $1.2B total budget.
How does BPS decide how much to give to each school?
BPS uses Weighted Student Funding to determine how much money each school will get. We look at the expected number of students who will attend the school next year and the needs of those students -- for instance if they are in a special education classroom -- and allocate dollars accordingly.
In Boston, we believe in giving families a voice in where their students attend schools. Because we strive to respect parent choice wherever possible, in a typical year we have some schools getting larger and some getting smaller. This family choice is only possible by allowing dollars to follow students. At the same time, we understand the need for schools to have stability in their staffing and budgets. That’s why this year we’ve implemented a number of resources and supports for schools with declining budgets. For instance all schools will now have no impact to their budget for the first 1% of enrollment decline and we have also dedicated a $1M reserve to specifically support our lower performing schools with larger enrollment declines.
What is going on with State funding?
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts uses Chapter 70 as its primary funding source for public education. The state’s formula is nearly 25 years old, and is in desperate need of updating. As a result of the outdated approach to funding, Boston has experienced almost flat funding from the state for a decade. Outside of Chapter 70, Boston has struggled with consistent underfunding of Charter School Reimbursement. The FY19 budget proposed by the Governor would underfund Boston charter expenses by $100M over the past 5 Years. Despite this disinvestment in Boston by the State, the City continues to provide historic levels of funding for education. Last spring, the Mayor proposed a series of state legislative reforms that will address these historic inequities in state funding. We encourage members of our community to advocate for those changes.
What cuts are in the FY19 budget?
We have not made any reductions in how we fund students or reduced centrally budgeted services going to students. In fact, for next school year, our appropriation from the City of Boston will grow by an estimated $48 million. Through long term planning and the Mayor’s continued support of education, we have addressed historical challenges in the BPS budget. We continue to focus on operational improvements in transportation and central office to help enable the kind of investment possible in the FY19 budget.
How are schools paying for increasing wages?
We have increased the base weight of Weighted Student Funding in-line with expected change in salaries. This increase is primarily the result of our recent collective bargaining agreement with the Boston Teachers Union and totals $30M for FY19. This investment in our teacher salaries will continue to place our teachers among the highest paid professionals in K12 public education -- both in the greater Boston area as well as nationally. We are proud to offer salaries that help attract and retain the highest quality teachers for our students.