Update: The Boston School Committee and Boston City Council have approved the FY15 recommended budget.
The proposed FY15 budget totals $974.93 million and reflects our commitments to allocate financial resources equitably to schools to meet the needs of students. The proposed budget expands educational opportunities and continues to improve school quality across the city.
The figure is approximately $37 million higher than FY14, thanks to Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s decision to increase the city appropriation to schools by nearly four percent when other city departments are facing reductions.
In FY15 BPS proposes to raise the overall weighted student funding allocation to schools by $5 million, despite the fact that BPS faces more than $60 million in rising costs and $32 million in declining state and federal revenue next year.
“Our most important task as educators is to provide each and every student with an education that will give them the opportunity to success in college and career, and that is what we have focused on in constructing next year’s budget,” McDonough said. “Resolving this challenge is about much more than balancing the budget. It is about rethinking our entire approach to service and support for schools so we can align ourselves in a way that is smarter, sharper, more effective and much more coherent. This is an opportunity to make the Boston Public Schools stronger.”
The proposed FY15 budget reflects our commitment to allocate resources equitably to meet the needs of students, along with our commitment to expand educational opportunities as recommended by the External Advisory Committee on school choice.
Budget hearing schedule
Please visit a budget hearing to learn more and offer your suggestions and feedback. You can also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the hashtag #BPSbudget on Twitter.
- Tuesday, March 4: Budget hearing: 6pm, Hyde Park Education Complex, 655 Metropolitan Ave., Hyde Park
- Wednesday, March 12: Budget hearing: 5pm, Winter Chambers, 26 Court St., Boston
- Tuesday, March 18: Budget hearing: 6pm, Edison K-8 School, 60 Glenmont Rd., Brighton
- Wednesday, March 26: FY15 budget vote, 6pm, Winter Chambers, 26 Court St., Boston
Data and spreadsheets
As a district we face more than $60 million in rising costs and $32 million in declining state and federal revenue. We must also make strategic new investments in the areas we know are critical to improving the quality of education, such as transitioning to Common Core academic standards and new technologies, strengthening our Office of Human Capital, implementing our new and more equitable school choice system, deepening dual language opportunities, expanding inclusive settings, ensuring access to our nationally acclaimed early education programs, and offering as many extended learning time and out-of-school learning opportunities as possible.
Our key investments in FY15 are highlighted below:
While this budget allocates $5 million more to schools through WSF compared to last year, just over half of the schools funded within WSF are nevertheless experiencing reductions in funding, while just under half will experience an increase. Key factors contributing to decreased WSF allocations include:
- Expanding early education: A $1 million expansion of the BPS early education (K1) program by 100 seats, which studies have shown is among the most effective in the nation at closing achievement gaps.
- Weighted Student Funding: We have increased by $5 million the resources allocated to schools through Weighted Student Funding (WSF).
- School choice implementation: We are implementing the new Home Based school choice plan, including the recommendations from the External Advisory Committee (more K-8 pathways, more inclusive and dual language programs, and overlays for English Language Learners and Special Education to provide services closer to home).
- Common Core and PARCC: We are investing $1 million in technology devices and another $1 million in upgrades to technology infrastructure in preparation for the online Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessments.
- Hiring autonomy: We are investing in all schools to hire qualified, diverse candidates early ($6.1M to make our early hiring initiative a success, $400K to support hiring diversity).
- Extended Learning Time (ELT): We are investing in ELT options by maintaining ELT at current and former turnaround schools ($2.75M) and six other schools across the district ($3.5M), maintaining Acceleration Academies during school vacations ($1.4M), and expanding ELT to two new Level 4 schools.
- High-Need Students: We are increasing resources for some of our highest-need students ($3.2M for students with emotional impairment, $5M for English Language Learners in grades 6-12, and $1.5M for inclusion specialists in 26 schools).
- Technology: We are renewing our investments in technology to support teachers, families, and students ($1.2M to support Laptops for Learning and $675K for continued use of the Student Information System).
- Facilities: We are investing in upgrades to facilities ($1M increase in funds for deferred maintenance).
Our costs are also rising. Contractual salary increases for educators and the growth of benefit expenses mean we still face a budget challenge of $69 million even after the expected $35.9 million increase in the general fund appropriation from the City of Boston. Resolving this challenge is about much more than balancing the budget. It is about rethinking our entire approach to education so we can align ourselves in a way that is smarter, sharper, more effective and much more coherent.
In other words, simply balancing the budget is not our objective. This is an opportunity to make the Boston Public Schools much stronger. To balance the budget and improve overall service to schools, BPS is proposing strategic realignments and estimated cost savings that include:
- Corrections to FY14 enrollment projections: Just over half of our schools are experiencing reductions in enrollment projections, driven mainly by over-projections in FY14 and corrections for FY15 based on actual enrollment trends.
- Home-Based school choice implementation: We are increasing capacity in some schools to serve students with disabilities and English Language Learners to align with the Home-Based overlays, which place programs closer to the communities we serve. This results in added funding for some schools and decreased funding in others as new programs phase in and existing programs phase out. It also leads to an increase in under-enrolled classes because of expanded options for students and families.
- K-8 expansions: These planned expansions allow students to remain in the same school throughout middle grades, which leads to higher budgets for these schools. It also leads to reduced demand for our middle schools, which means lower projected enrollments and therefore lower budgets.
- Roll-out of inclusive programs: As we phase out substantially separate classes and roll out inclusive classes across the district, maintaining both programs simultaneously results in under-enrollment in some classes.
Realigning central office and centrally-funded services ($39.3 million): We will make strategic realignments to control costs in many central departments, most significantly in Human Capital, Academics, Student Support Services and non-direct special education services and engagement. We believe these adjustments will allow us to continue to serve students and families well while managing costs more efficiently.
Adjustments to enrollment projections ($11 million): We have corrected over-projections from FY14 so that FY15 projections are based on actual enrollment trends.
Transportation ($11 million): In addition to our continued efforts to better align school start times, we propose to expand the MBTA pass program to more 7th and 8th grade students. This is already the case for nearly two thousand students in nine BPS schools and five charter schools served by BPS transportation. Today, 1,862 7th and 8th grade students receive MBTA passes, and our proposal would expand this program to an additional 4,586 students in the next school year. Yellow bus door-to-door service would continue for all students who receive this as part of a special education plan. In addition, BPS will allow some 6th grade students to access MBTA passes instead of yellow bus service, as a voluntary 6th grade MBTA pilot program that schools can choose to participate in next year. BPS also proposes to reduce “shuttle” bus service to high schools that are less than one mile from an MBTA subway hub and will ask schools to directly budget for a-la-carte optional services.
Decrease in health insurance premiums ($5 million): The City’s efforts to control health insurance costs have allowed us to decrease our expected payments for health insurance from about $95 million to $90 million with no change in benefits to staff.
Grant changes ($4 million): Strategic reductions in grant-funded services that are not supported through BPS general revenue.
Shift adult education to grant resources ($1.1 million): BPS offers some adult education programs that were designed to support people who are not BPS students, such as GED support. Similar services are often provided by external community-based organizations, and BPS proposes to shift our program to become fully grant-supported. Update, March 26: BPS proposes to restore $823,000 to the adult education budget, or approximately 75 percent.