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Student-Centered BPS Budget Proposal Redefines Funding to Support High Quality Learning

$80 Million Increase from Current Year Provides Strategic, Intensive Support to Students, Educators

Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Brenda Cassellius tonight presented a transformative district budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) that strengthens the way BPS serves students, families and schools. Designed to improve academic outcomes, promote deeper levels of student engagement, bolster professional development and training for teachers, and increase support and service to families, the proposed budget is grounded in equity and is closely aligned with BPS’s newly released strategic plan, developed after an extensive community engagement effort launched at the start of the school year.

Totaling $1.26 billion, which represents an $80 million increase from the current year and includes $36 million in new school-based investments, the budget reflects a comprehensive approach to boosting student outcomes at schools with the highest need and the lowest academic achievement. Of this new funding, $19 million will be used to provide intensive, targeted support and resources to 33 of the lowest performing schools with the goal of raising the quality of the district overall and providing a more consistent experience for students in Boston.

Nearly 70 percent of new investments, representing a majority of the funding, will provide direct services to students and intensive, instructional support and professional development for teachers. The remaining funding will support instructional resources such as textbooks, computers and investments to improve the school environment, resulting in 100 percent of new funding directly benefiting students to close achievement gaps and improve educational outcomes.

The budget proposal directly supports the draft strategic plan Dr. Cassellius recently presented to the Boston School Committee which aims to accelerate BPS’s efforts to offer an excellent, equitable, high-quality education for every student in every neighborhood in Boston. Additionally, because of the reliability provided by Mayor Walsh’s historic three-year, $100 million investment, the district is now able to strategically plan intensive, targeted investments that will support students and educators of every school, starting with those with the highest need. 

"Our students in Boston are deserving of a high-quality education and every opportunity that will best prepare them for success," said Mayor Walsh. "By prioritizing schools and students with the highest need, through a commitment to making smart, strategic investments in direct support classrooms, I'm confident that this budget offers a road map to reach that goal and make BPS a high-performing and equitable district for every child and family. With the hard work and dedication of our committed school leaders and staff, we will keep our students on a pathway toward achieving their dreams."  

"Our students in Boston are deserving of a high-quality education and every opportunity that will best prepare them for success,"

- Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

Under the leadership of Mayor Walsh, the City’s allocation to BPS has increased by $320 million over the last seven years. Despite a projected student enrollment decline of 824 students this year, the FY21 budget proposal reflects an increase in per-pupil spending from approximately $16,500 in FY14 to $21,734 in FY21 due to significant student-based investments including extended school days, nurses in every school, and Universal Pre-Kindergarten. 

“I have often said that a budget is a reflection of our values,” said Superintendent Cassellius. “This budget is our promise and our commitment to the amazing potential of every student in every classroom across Boston.”

Developed after an extensive community engagement effort launched at the start of the school year, both the strategic plan and the budget reflect input from thousands of students, parents, educators, and community members, and was collected during visits to every school in the district and more than 100 community meetings held by Superintendent Cassellius. 

“I’m incredibly proud of the voices that helped shape and inform this budget and our strategic vision forward,” said Cassellius. “Students, parents, educators, community members and partners showed up to share their best thinking, to demand more, and to challenge us to think about what it means -- and what it will really take --- to help every child get a great education in Boston Public Schools. They’ve demonstrated they’re ready to stand with us through the hard work ahead to make our shared vision for our kids a reality.”

Direct-to-student funding will focus on three key areas that will lead to overall district improvement and student outcomes.

  • A strong foundation for student success and more support to connect families to resources and information ($9 million). 
    • Hire school-based family liaisons in our most underperforming schools who will reflect the culture and language of the community they serve, and address the needs and questions of families. 
    • Ensure school-based social workers for a coordinated, multi-tiered system of support to meet the social-emotional needs of our students and families. 
    • Continued nurse expansion to achieve one full-time nurse in every school. 
    • Increased access to art, music, science, physical education, and health for students in grades K-6 to allow students to explore their passions and creativity, which will result in focused and engaged students.

  • Increase teacher’s skill through coaching and consistent feedback and developing high-quality curriculum ($12 million).
    • Implement professional development and support for a K-8 Literacy Initiative to develop stronger reading skills at an earlier age.
    • Hire school-based instructional facilitators for routine professional development to better support educators. 
    • Support teachers as they implement literacy curriculum at the school level through expert coaching, professional learning, and data-driven feedback.
    • Implement dual language and bilingual education program development.
    • Provide training on practices for including all students of different learning abilities.
    • Ensure all K2 classrooms have a full-time paraprofessional.

  • Raise the bar on student learning with high-quality learning materials, resources and improved learning environments ($15 million). 
    • Expand student access to technology with 1:1 computing for every student in grades 7-12. Schools serving grades 3-6 will also receive devices.
    • Provide consistent, high-quality literacy materials and instruction for every student. 
    • Ensure our facilities support learning by adding 25 additional custodians.

“The Boston School Committee is grateful for the several months of deep community engagement led by Superintendent Cassellius to understand student needs in the Boston Public Schools, which has shaped and informed the continued commitment from and investment in our schools by Mayor Walsh,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “Our students and schools need and deserve a fundamental shift in how they are supported to improve our student outcomes. The Committee looks forward to reviewing this budget in detail with the community to ensure these resources raise student achievement and close opportunity gaps.”  

Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s $100 Million Investment:

Budget Chart Building on his historic commitment to investing in our students and schools, during his 2020 State of the City address on January 7, Mayor Walsh announced a $100 million investment in new, direct funding to support students at the Boston Public Schools. In his speech, Mayor Walsh recognized that “for too long, the Boston Public Schools have been a tale of two districts” with “too much potential is still being lost for the students who face the toughest challenges.” This new funding will be phased in over the next three years to reach an annual investment of $100 million for direct classroom funding that is over and above cost increases. This level of planned new investment has never been seen before in Boston's history, and will reach every public school in Boston. 

This investment will expedite the benefits that Boston students will experience once the Student Opportunity Act goes into full effect by putting this direct investment in our school systems effective in the new fiscal year. In recognizing that students in Boston cannot wait seven years to reap the benefits, Mayor Walsh announced this historic investment to accelerate the state’s investment that at the end of seven years will benefit Boston’s students with $100 million in additional funding per year. The Student Opportunity Act was signed into law earlier this year following years of advocacy and hard work from a coalition of mayors, city leaders, parents, teachers and advocates. 

The City’s $100 million investment over the next three years will focus on student wellness and mental health supports, curriculum enrichment, and programming and activities, and 100 percent of the funding will go directly to students or services provided by schools. The investment will be made on top of standard costs increases, such as inflation and employee costs. The FY21 BPS budget is directly supported by this new investment.