Boston School Committee approves Boston Public Schools' FY '18 budget in 5-2 vote
Schools receive nearly 4 percent increase in funding
BOSTON - Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - The Boston School Committee passed the fiscal year 2018 Boston Public Schools' (BPS) budget in a 5-2 vote during its March 22 meeting, totaling $1.061 billion.
The budget is the largest in BPS history, representing a projected $40 million increase since last year, and a $143 million increase since Mayor Martin J. Walsh took office in 2014 despite declining state and federal aid. The FY18 allocation makes targeted investments in programs that increase academic rigor and enrichments, pre-kindergarten, extended learning time, vocational programming, and resources for students experiencing homelessness.
"Boston is entering a new era of investment in our schools and I thank the Boston School Committee for continuing to come together for our students and their futures," Mayor Walsh said. "Through the largest school investment in the city's history, we are adding additional classroom time for kindergarten through eighth grade, more-prekindergarten seats, expanding vocational programming and significantly increasing funding to our classrooms. Last year, we saw more schools reach Level 1 and Level 2 status than ever before and high school and college graduation rates are at an all-time high. It is my priority to continue to build on that success and provide every student in every neighborhood with the high-quality education they deserve."
Funding directed to schools will increase by almost 4 percent, even before the largest driver of BPS costs, employee collective bargaining increases, are negotiated. When taking into account total spending at schools, funding directed to schools is projected to increase at 96 schools even with flat overall district enrollment. This includes additional funding for lengthening the school day at 39 schools, new homeless resources, weighted student funding (WSF) allocations, a projected allotment from the collective bargaining reserve, other supports added to schools after WSF, and other new investments.
BPS Superintendent Tommy Chang thanked School Committee members for their careful deliberation of the budget.
"On behalf of the Boston Public Schools (BPS), I thank the Boston School Committee for carefully considering and approving a budget for fiscal year 2018 that increases funding for schools and provides critical resources - including expanded academic rigor, extending the school day, additional pre-K seats, and services for students experiencing homelessness," said Superintendent Chang. "This $1.061 billion budget, the largest in BPS history, is a sustainable financial plan that aligns with the district's core values of equity, coherence, and innovation, and helps ensure that every student has an opportunity to succeed. BPS is excited by the commitment of Mayor Walsh, whose administration has increased projected funding for the district by $40 million since last year and $143 million since taking office. The new and continued investments from the Walsh administration will strengthen the district's mission of closing opportunity and achievement gaps."
The record-setting funding for BPS comes as the district experiences major gains. In 2016, the four-year high school graduation rate climbed to a record high of 72.4 percent, marking a 13-point gain since 2006. Additionally, BPS has more state-designated Level 1 and 2 schools than ever before, with a combined 46 schools ranked among the highest-performing in the state. More than 600 additional students will be enrolled in Level 1 and 2 schools next year, indicating more families are taking advantage of the school choice process.
Targeted supports in the fiscal 2018 BPS budget include:
● A $1.2 million investment to support more than 2,500 students experiencing homelessness.
● An additional $700,000 for the groundbreaking Excellence for All initiative that increases academic rigor and enrichments for students in fourth and fifth grade.
● $600,000 to expand pre-kindergarten seats and laying a foundation for the Mayor's goal of universal pre-K.
● $1.3 million for new vocational programming at The English High School and Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers.
● An additional $650,000 for facilities improvements.
Under the new Opportunity and Achievement Gap Policy, the fiscal 2018 budget was proposed after a careful equity analysis to ensure funding is directed toward our highest-need students in a manner that is consistent with closing opportunity and achievement gaps.
The budget also solidifies the commitment of Mayor Walsh and BPS to strengthen the district's long-term financial plan; and improve infrastructure for the next decade and beyond through the BuildBPS educational and facilities master plan.
In addition, Mayor Walsh recently filed comprehensive education finance reform legislation at the State House that aims to invest equitably in public education and expand access to high-quality education for students of all ages. This includes a proposal to close the "quality gap" in pre-kindergarten seats in Boston by fiscal year 2025 by creating approximately hundreds more quality pre-kindergarten seats, which would be funded by redirecting $16.5 million of surplus revenue raised in Boston from the Convention Center Fund to the City of Boston for early education.
The approved budget will be submitted to the Boston City Council for final approval later this spring.