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Thursday, February 08, 2018

BPS FY19 Budget Largest Ever Allocation, a $48 Million Increase

Proposed Boston Public Schools FY19 Budget Marks Largest Ever Allocation, a $48 Million Increase
Boosts Individual School Budgets, Sustains Long-Term Investments in Academic Rigor, Works to Close Opportunity Gaps
How the Boston Public Schools Budget Works
Check out this video to learn how the Boston Public Schools budgeting process works.
BOSTON — Wednesday, February 7, 2018 — Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Tommy Chang is proposing to the Boston School Committee a $1.109 billion Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) school district budget that includes a $48 million projected increase over last year’s appropriation, marking the largest proposed BPS budget in the city’s history. The proposed 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.

“With our graduation rate at an all-time high and more Level 1 and 2 schools in the City’s history than ever before, Boston Public Schools continues to lead the nation in public education, and we are committed to building upon our successes,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Our investments will not only retain the most effective teachers, but will keep students engaged, and on the path toward achieving their dreams.”

The City of Boston’s allocation to BPS has increased by $170 million, or 18 percent, over the past five years. Next year’s proposed appropriation is in addition to a collective bargaining reserve to be used when union negotiations are completed.

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 proposed FY19 budget focuses on a deep investment in the budgets of individual schools. In total, funding going directly to schools will increase by $40 million in FY19, 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 proposed 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 impact high-need students.

“We should all appreciate that the City of Boston and Superintendent Chang have proposed a balanced budget that supports research-backed, long-term investments with students’ best interests at heart,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael Loconto. “The Boston School Committee will carefully deliberate this proposal and is looking forward to meaningful public feedback over the next several weeks.”

“As we prepare our students for college, career, and the ever-changing innovation economy, keeping them engaged is more important than ever before,” said Superintendent Chang. “These targeted supports facilitate more rigorous learning in ways that are culturally relevant, help close opportunity and achievement gaps, and build safe, welcoming, and sustaining environments for our young people.”

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 opportunity and achievement gaps.

  • Extended Learning Time: In the past three years, 57 schools serving grades 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.

The Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester implemented Becoming a Man this school year and, additionally, received funding through the FY18 budget to help students experiencing homelessness, which was used to increase staffing support. The school also uses partnership funding for “Catie’s Closet,” a free clothing and toiletries shop for students.

“Our students all have potential, and I have personally watched scores of them persevere through homelessness, trauma, and violence to become successful in college, career, and life,” said Dr. Lindsa McIntyre, headmaster of the Burke High School. “Part of our success at the Burke is that students love being here. When they get support from loving and trusting adults at our school, they’re more comfortable and engaged in the learning they need to prosper.”

Over the past few months, McIntyre said Becoming a Man has become “a right of passage for the young men in our school. It offers mentoring, lessons in self actualization, and opportunities for our boys to grow in cognitive and emotional empathy.”

Carolyn Kain, chairperson of the Boston Special Education Advisory Council (SPEDPAC), said the FY19 budget proposal keeps crucial supports in place for students with special needs.

"We are very pleased that the Mayor and the administration have maintained the recent investments in special education and that there are no changes to the weighted student formula for children with special needs,” Kain said. “The district's work in multi-tiered systems of support, for example, helps achieve long term goals of early intervention and getting the right services to the children who need them most."
 
The proposed FY19 budget aims to support Boston Public Schools’ longstanding position as a national leader in urban education. Boston was named a top-performing district in the most recent National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP); and has consistently increased the four-year high school graduation rate for more than a decade, reaching an all-time high of 72.4 percent in 2016, the most recent year of available data. Also in 2016, 46 BPS schools received the top-ranking Level 1 or Level 2 accountability levels from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education — representing the highest number of schools in the top-performing categories for the district.

In developing the proposed FY19 budget, the members of the Boston School Committee’s Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Task Force, along with members of the BPS offices of Finance, Opportunity and Achievement Gaps, and Equity, analyzed figures to ensure that dollars are being directed toward students with the highest need in an equitable fashion.

“I am very pleased with the thoughtful process used to arrive at the budget equity guiding principles, which I feel provide greater clarity, transparency, and guidance as to how budgets should be built at BPS,” said Ayele Shakur, co-chair of the BPS Opportunity and Achievement Gaps Task Force, and executive director of BUILD Boston. “We feel optimistic that the FY19 budget will reflect these principles and the district’s commitment to closing opportunity and achievement gaps for our most marginalized students, particularly in our neediest schools.” 

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Learn the basics on the BPS budget by clicking the photo above.

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