Reimagining School Funding
Boston Public Schools is starting the process to reimagine the school funding model. This work will update the method used to determine school level allocations of funds.
As we envision this process and keep students at the forefront, we seek genuine partnership with our community stakeholders. Our hope is for community stakeholders to invest in this process.
We ask the Boston community to join us in this process and use this site as the central hub to find updates, see scheduled engagement events, engage in REPT development, and connect with the project leads.
Boston Public Schools (BPS) is excited to announce the launch of the “Reimagine BPS School Funding” project. The needs of our students, families and schools look different than it did ten years ago. We must adapt in order to support these changes. To that end, we are launching this project to reevaluate how we fund our schools to reflect the priorities of students and families, equitably support the unique programming at schools, and ensure a “quality guarantee” at all schools.
For over 10 years, BPS has allocated its public funding to schools using a “Weighted Student Funding” (WSF) model. WSF factors in each school’s projected enrollment and the levels of need for each projected student to determine school budgets. Although there have been regular updates and modifications to the original formula, there is more work to be done.
As the district experiences citywide decline in enrollment, we recognize that the WSF model has impacted school communities unequally across the district and that this method too narrowly constrains school funding in ways that may be counter to the community’s values. Under this context, today we begin to reimagine a better way.
To support this project, Afton Partners, an organization that partners with schools to analyze and transform funding policy and practice, has been selected through a RFP process to bring national expertise to the project. Afton Partners has led similar work with Chicago Public Schools and with the District of Columbia Office of the Deputy Mayor of Education to ensure equitable school funding for all students. Afton will lead the stakeholder engagement and technical analysis phases of work. On Afton’s consulting team is UPD Consulting, an equity implementation company that specializes in organizational change management. UPD has led several large-scale, equity-focused stakeholder engagement projects with school districts and education agencies across the country, including the Vancouver Public Schools and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
The BPS Racial Equity Planning Tool will be core to this work. The BPS Racial Equity Planning Tool lays out a clear six-step process to operationalize BPS’s commitment to closing opportunity gaps and advancing racial equity. We will keep the public informed with our progress through regular updates on the new Reimagine School Funding page on our BPS website, and through regular engagement with stakeholder groups such as the Community Equity Roundtable, OAG Task Force, ELL Task Force, SPED PAC and parent groups.
The first phase of the work will focus on robust stakeholder engagement. You can support and advise this work by participating in the many upcoming opportunities that will be announced as our initiative gets underway with community events starting this summer. The timeline of this engagement, like the policy itself, will be determined through our engagement and advisory group process.
An Engagement Committee will be formed to co-create our engagement plan and identify how we will hold ourselves accountable to what we learn. It is envisioned that community engagement will take on a variety of forms such as open forums and surveys and focus on parents and guardians and voices that are historically under-represented.
This initiative will be guided by a BPS Advisory Group that will be responsible for recommending a school funding model to the Superintendent and School Committee. This group will be informed by our parent and community engagement process alongside guidance from school leaders, local and national experts, and our consultant team.