Boston Public Schools to Get Whacked

Platitudes and Lifetime channel movies notwithstanding, schools cost money to run (boldface mine):

The possible cuts, which vary from school to school, include classroom aides and other positions, supplies and materials, and funding for specialized programs such as Playworks, which provides organized games and activities at recess as a supplement to physical education.

One of the hardest-hit schools could be the Curley K-8 School in Jamaica Plain, which may have to reduce spending by $550,000. The plan calls for cutting 14 positions, including a music teacher, a bilingual parent coordinator, and community field coordinators who deal with discipline. “It’s going to be catastrophic, and not just at the Curley,” said Heshan Berents-Weeramuni, cochairman of the school site council at the Curley.

Dozens of parents are planning to turn out at Wednesday night’s School Committee meeting when interim Superintendent John McDonough is scheduled to officially unveil his budget proposal for the next school year, which is expected to be $973 million.

Although that spending plan represents a nearly 4 percent increase over this year’s budget, costs to maintain programs are rising at a faster clip, while state and federal aid is dropping by the millions

Parents at the Hurley K-8 School in the South End learned last week that the school might have to slash $200,000 in funding, said Megan Hastings, president of Neighborhood Parents for the Hurley School.

The school’s principal had previously been hopeful that the Hurley could avoid major cuts. Now, the school is facing the loss of two positions and funding for supplies and materials and a software program that teachers use to analyze student test scores and other data to help them adjust their instructional techniques.

It’s not like we are cutting art or music programs; those are things already paid for by parents,” Hastings said. “It’s already a lean budget. You can’t get leaner.”

The Mendell Elementary School in Roxbury is planning to ask parents to raise nearly $30,000 so it can keep two popular programs for next year: Playworks and a music program for its preschool, kindergarten, and first-grade students.

The Mendell will probably cut two classroom aides, also known as paraprofessionals. Those positions, parents say, are critical because the school is one of a few in the city that teaches students with significant special needs in the same classrooms as typically developing peers, a practice that requires extra adult supervision.

“We have amazing paraprofessionals who do a great job and are integral to the school community,” said Susan Field, cochairwoman of the Mendell’s parent council.

At the Boston Teachers Union K-8 Pilot School in Jamaica Plain, parents are bracing for their first major budget cuts, potentially an eighth of its budget, since opening five years ago.

To its credit, the City of Boston is trying to protect schools relative to other agencies which will suffer greater hits. Here’s the thing: Boston is a wealthy city in an wealthy state, but as long as the economy is anemic, there’s only so much tax revenue the city and the Commonwealth can generate. Mind you, parents are already kicking in additional money to pay for arts, music, and sports (for those who don’t know Boston, Roxbury is not a wealth neighborhood). While federal contributions aren’t that great, they are the difference between cuts and maintaining programs.

Of course, we could always just provide additional funds on a per capita basis to school districts by way of federal spending*. That has to be a better expenditure than building planes only to destroy them (seriously, if that’s not the definition of paying people to dig holes and fill them up, I don’t know what is).

If Boston is having a hard time, I can’t even imagine what the rest of the country is going through.

Just spend the damn money.

*Ideally, this would adjusted by the status of the student (i.e., special education, English-as-second-language, low-income).

This entry was posted in Boston, Education, Massachusetts. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Boston Public Schools to Get Whacked

Comments are closed.