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Return, Recover, Reimagine: Boston Public Schools Announces Student-Centered $1.3 Billion Fiscal Year 2022 Budget
$36 million increase to support direct investments in school budgets and school services
BOSTON — Wednesday, February 3, 2021 — Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Brenda Cassellius announces a student-centered Fiscal Year 2022 operating budget. The proposed budget is framed with the guiding principles of Return, Recover, and Reimagine. The recovery budget is heavily focused on improving student outcomes, advancing equitable recovery, and promoting the whole school community's health and wellness amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FY22 budget, a proposed $1.3B General Fund allocation and the largest appropriation to BPS ever made by the City of Boston, features targeted investments in academic, health and wellness, and community supports. These investments align with the five-year BPS Strategic Plan. The proposed funding remains focused on prioritizing the lowest-performing schools while directing funds to strategies with a demonstrated ability to improve outcomes for the district's highest-need students.
BPS is unbelievably fortunate to have the steadfast commitment from the City of Boston to maintain the $80M investment in BPS for this fiscal year. BPS projects to receive $36M, which represents a 7% increase over last year’s allocation, at a time when many other interstate and national districts are facing budget cuts. Per-pupil funding will increase by almost $1,700 per pupil, from approximately $21,800 in FY21 to $23,500 in FY22. BPS intends to repair the damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic by working to understand better where students are, assess their learning, target interventions, add support, and align expectations with outcomes.
“This budget proposal provides the Boston Public Schools with the capital to adequately distribute supports, address learning loss and provide an equitable recovery for our students,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I am proud to see the $100 million commitment pledged to the district last year continue to be leveraged towards student-centered investments to close opportunity gaps and to ensure a high-quality education for every BPS student.”
Initial investments will support a successful reopening of schools and promote a restart of initiatives and projects paused due to the COVID-19 emergency. Investments for equitable recovery will directly support students who have been most impacted by the pandemic. Finally, federal funding will vastly bolster our future reimagining of BPS, guide implementation of the Strategic Plan, support our commitment to being an antiracist district, and advance equitable outcomes for all students, particularly students of color, English learners, students with disabilities, and students experiencing poverty.
BPS received $32.3M in supplemental funding as part of the CARES Act for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. This funding provides local districts with emergency relief funds to address the impact of COVID-19. We expect to allocate approximately $5M to private and parochial schools based in Boston per federal requirements. Additionally, we will utilize CARES Act funding for summer learning opportunities, personal protective gear, and health equipment. In addition, BPS will receive approximately $123M of funding from the ESSER II Fund due to the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSA). BPS plans to use these additional funds to address critical needs within the community due to the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly exposed inequities that persisted for our students for far too long, and this recovery budget is centered on student services and supports to immediately address concerns and promote an equitable recovery,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “This student-centered and community-focused recovery budget proposal builds upon our investments made last year in student and family advancement, at a time when our community is most in need. As we move forward and recover from the pandemic, we remain committed to a safe return, opening access and closing achievement gaps, and ensuring an excellent and equitable education for all students, particularly our students most impacted this past year.”
“I am thankful to Mayor Walsh for his leadership and commitment to increasing funding for critical services for our young people at a time when urban municipalities and school districts are experiencing dramatic budget cuts and shortfalls,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson, Alexandra Oliver-Dávila. “I look forward to engaging with our community throughout the budget process to share information about these critical investments and gather feedback from our families.”
Key investments in the proposed FY22 budget include:
- $1.4M for additional daytime custodial staff, investing in building condition and cleanliness
- $18.5M to support schools experiencing enrollment declines;
- $10M to elementary social workers for a multi-tiered system of support for students;
- $6.8M to multilingual family liaisons;
“This school year, our new social worker is a phenomenal addition to our community, ensuring our families are informed by sharing resources and hosting virtual sessions. She speaks the native language of many of our families, which makes them comfortable with her. We are incredibly grateful for her outreach and support,” said Jennifer Marks, Principal of the Charles Taylor Elementary School in Mattapan. “Next year, we will be able to keep all of our programs intact, including our language-specific Haitian Creole program. We will be able to add a full-time family liaison position as well, to further assist our community as we continue to recover and return strong.”
The recovery budget proposal includes an expansion of the FY21 investment in social workers and family liaisons. Seventy-eight percent of social workers hired in FY21 were persons of color and coordinated services and support staff to serve students more effectively. Social workers also contributed to developing a whole-school approach to ensure all of the adults work together to remove barriers to student success, identify struggling students early, and intervene quickly.
Family liaisons help to build relationships with students, families, and school communities. Ninety-eight percent of the family liaisons hired in FY21 were persons of color, who reflect the cultures and speak the languages of the communities they serve. Throughout this challenging period, family liaisons supported outreach to families and students with inconsistent or low online attendance rates to identify the barriers to participation and connected families with community resources for needs like housing, food access, counseling, and more.
“While I was bracing myself for budget cuts this year due to the pandemic, our FY22 school budget provides us with the opportunity to stabilize our community with the resources we currently have, which makes our planning so much easier,” said Nora Vernazza, Head of School at TechBoston Academy in Dorchester. “This year, instead of cuts, we have additional funding to provide our students and families with the academic resources and supports that they need now more than ever.”
The $36 million increase in this year’s proposed budget includes the second year allocation committed by Mayor Walsh last year. This $100M commitment is being phased in over three years to reach an annual investment of $100 million for direct classroom funding, which is over and above cost increases. By allocating this direct investment in our school systems, Boston students will experience expedited benefits once the Student Opportunity Act goes into full effect (in the next seven years). Once fully implemented, the Student Opportunity Act will benefit Boston’s students with $100 million in additional funding per year.