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Boston School Committee Approves FY19 Boston Public Schools Budget
Unanimous Vote In Favor of $1.1 Billion Allocation
BOSTON — Thursday, March 29, 2018 — Last night, the Boston School Committee passed the fiscal year 2019 (FY19) Boston Public Schools (BPS) budget with a unanimous vote. The $1.109 billion BPS budget marks the largest in City history, and a $48 million increase over last year’s budget.
“This budget is the largest in Boston’s history and represents an investment in our students, our schools, and education in Boston,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “We will always prioritize high-quality education for all our students, and this strong investment will help ensure our young people have the tools they need to succeed.”
Mayor Walsh has increased the BPS budget by $170 million, or 18 percent, over the past five years. During the same time, BPS has continued to achieve its highest four-year high-school graduation rate and more high-ranking Level 1 and 2 schools than ever before.
The FY19 budget features investments in individual school budgets, extended learning time, hiring effective teachers, supports for students experiencing homelessness, and an empowerment program for young men of color, among other vital supports.
“I would like to thank my fellow Boston School Committee members for listening to public feedback and carefully deliberating before taking this important vote,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “The FY19 budget sustains our position as a national leader in urban public education and continues to increase supports for students who need them most.”
The FY19 budget increases funding to individual schools by $40 million, which includes approximately $30 million toward higher teacher salaries and an additional $10 million in further investments.
Those additional investments are focused on the district’s highest-need schools and supporting schools in transition due to enrollment shifts. In the FY19 budget, no school will see a financial impact for the first one percent of an enrollment decline. In total, BPS has proposed dedicating $3.4 million to ensure smooth transitions for schools with fluctuating enrollments, including a $1 million reserve to support lower performing schools with declining enrollment.
Additionally, using a new formula that measures student need and is in adherence with the BPS Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Policy, BPS will be reallocating $5.8 million in external partnership funding to schools with our highest-need students. The district will also be providing an additional $3 million to schools to assist high-need students.
“BPS students are the leaders of today and tomorrow,” said BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang. “The proposed budget for next year invests in programs and initiatives meant to support students’ growth, facilitate authentic learning experiences, and help them embark on a successful path in college, career, and life.”
The increased funding from the City comes despite the Governor’s proposed budget that would decrease net state aid to Boston by $17 million. While Mayor Walsh has increased BPS' annual budget by $170 million since taking office, the state’s Chapter 70 funding has only increased by $8 million. The Commonwealth also continues to underfund charter school reimbursements for cities and towns, which under the Governor’s proposed budget translates into $27 million in lost funding in Boston in FY19 alone and more than $100 million over the last five years. The City is bridging this gap and contributing additional resources to strengthen BPS' efforts to provide each of its students a high-quality education in a 21st-century learning environment.
The approved budget will be submitted to the Boston City Council for final approval later this spring.
Key Initiatives and Programs
- Early Childhood Education: In the last five years, BPS and the City of Boston have increased participation in K1 (pre-K) programs by 725 students, for a total of 2,947 K1 students projected for FY19. BPS has invested $5 million into K1 expansion since 2014, totaling about $22.7 million for next year. BPS oversees a nationally recognized early childhood education program that is child-centric, highly developmental and is shown through research to lead to academic gains for several years, helping close the opportunity and achievement gap.
- Extended Learning Time: In the past three years, 57 schools serving K-8 have extended the school day by 40 minutes, which is the equivalent of adding 20 school days per year. BPS is investing $17.4 million to maintain extended hours at these schools next year. Not only does the additional time allow students more opportunity to learn crucial 21st century skills, it provides them time for an array of enrichment opportunities — everything from art and woodworking to robotics and yoga — that research shows bring learning alive by making lessons more relevant for young people.
- Effective Teachers: BPS strongly believes in ensuring high quality teachers are in every classroom. BPS is proud to offer competitive salaries for educators, making them among the highest paid in the country. Approximately $30 million in the FY19 budget will support higher salaries and an additional $8 million will fund benefits. BPS also invests in ongoing retention and training programs, such as the Lynch Leadership Academy, which has aspiring school leaders spend a year learning and leading with our best mentor principals in Boston. Over the past five years, BPS has transformed how teachers are attracted and retained to work for the district, ending a system in which teachers were hired by Central Office, and adopting a process called Early Mutual Consent Hiring, in which school principals, their hiring committees, and the candidates all agree on hiring decisions. Through this process, all hiring begins earlier in the year — typically in March — compared to the traditional school hiring season in June. This has allowed BPS to select from larger and more diverse pools of applicants.
- Excellence for All: BPS is allocating $700,000 to grow the academic-enrichment program Excellence for All for the third year, serving 1,700 students in grades 4-6 at 16 schools and bringing the total allocation to $2.6 million. Excellence for All aims to match the high-quality rigor that many students receive in the Advanced Work Class (AWC) program in an inclusive setting that also provides for enrichment, such as foreign languages and robotics.
- Supports for Students Experiencing Homelessness: For the second year in a row, BPS is providing funding to individual schools to assist students who are experiencing homelessness. The amount will total $1.8 million, which is a $500,000 increase from last year. Schools have discretion over how the funding is used. Some schools have used the funds to hire support staff; while others have expanded clothing closets. The Edison K-8 School in Brighton used the funds to launch a weekend “boost bag” program, which allows students in need to receive a bag of supplemental food on Fridays.
Becoming a Man: Becoming a Man is a Chicago-based, nationally-recognized program that successfully serves young men of color using school-based group counseling and mentoring to teach valuable life skills. Boston Public Schools is the first district outside of Chicago to adopt this program, which research has shown increases school engagement, social-emotional skills, and graduation rates, while decreasing arrest rates. Now serving four schools in BPS due to a $600,000 philanthropic donation, Becoming a Man will receive an additional $549,000 in the FY19 BPS budget to expand to three more schools.