BOSTON – Tuesday, January 7, 2020 – Building on his historic commitment to investing in our students and schools, during his 2020 State of the City address this evening, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced a $100 million investment in new direct funding to support students at the Boston Public Schools. This funding will be phased in over the next three years to reach an annual investment of $100 million for direct classroom funding that is over and above cost increases. This level of planned new investment has never been seen before in Boston’s history, and will reach every public school in Boston.
"We believe in a Boston where every single student has access to high quality schools to reach their full potential, and this $100 million investment will make that vision a reality," said Mayor Walsh. "This new investment will be carefully targeted to evidence-based strategies so that every dollar makes a difference. We’ll begin with intense support for underperforming schools because kids who start with less need more and deserve more. By lifting up our schools, we’ll become one strong district and one stronger city."
The $100 million investment over the next three years will focus on student wellness and mental health supports, curriculum enrichment, and programming and activities, and 100% of the funding will go directly to students or services provided by schools. The investment will be made on top of standard costs increases, such as inflation and employee costs.
"This is a great day for the children of Boston Public Schools," said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius. "This historic, new funding will allow us to provide direct support to every single student, starting with those who need it the most. I am incredibly grateful to Mayor Walsh for his continued commitment to our children and families."
"Since 2014, Mayor Walsh and the Boston School Committee have committed to working with parents, teachers, students and community members for increased public education funding at all levels to address the critical needs in our schools," said Michael Loconto, Chairperson of the Boston School Committee. "Mayor Walsh’s continuing and deep investments in our schools reflects a fulfillment of this ongoing commitment. The Committee looks forward to receiving Superintendent Cassellius’s recommendation on a Fiscal Year 2021 budget next month, which will put our strategic vision and these critical investments into action."
"This historic investment is great news for public school students, parents and educators across the City. We applaud the administration for stepping up and allocating such a significant increase in funding to help create the schools our students deserve," said Jessica Tang, President, Boston Teachers Union. "While the recent increases in funding for public education at the state level were welcome news, that funding won’t make a meaningful impact in Boston for many years, so this investment comes at a critical time to help fill the gaps."
This new investment directly supports Superintendent Cassellius’ draft strategic vision recently presented to the Boston School Committee, outlining the key priority areas where BPS will focus its efforts through the next school year to improve student experiences and outcomes, close opportunity gaps and increase instructional quality and rigor. The strategic vision was formed following her four-month long community tour across Boston, where she visited all 125 schools, hosted 98 community meetings, and engaged with more than 2,100 people. It focuses on five key priorities, including: elevating equity to address disparities, accelerating learning through a well-rounded education, expanding opportunity through targeted resources, cultivating trust to help all students reach their full potential and amplifying all voices to ensure strong student and school outcomes. The final version of the strategic vision will be presented to the School Committee on January 15.
"This investment speaks directly to the leadership of Dr. Cassellius. She listened to stakeholders, assessed the state of our schools, and identified high leverage focus areas to help accelerate the closure of achievement and opportunity gaps, and while there are still many issues we need to address in our schools, if allocated to align with Dr. Cassellius’ strategic vision, this additional investment will help support our students who need it most," said Tanisha M. Sullivan, President, NAACP Boston Branch.
"I am very excited for what this new funding will mean for students and the positive impact this will make in our schools moving forward," said Evelyn Reyes, a senior at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science, and student representative on the Boston School Committee. "This is the kind of investment that is needed to take education at the Boston Public Schools to the next level. I can’t wait to see this funding come to life in our schools and for students to fully reap the benefits."
"This is really fantastic and will give BPS both at the higher level and at the school level more access to funds to increase support," said Carlos-Luis Brown, parent of two children at the Curtis Guild Elementary School, and also co-chair for the parent council at the Guild. "Any kind of funding that can go to schools, not just students in the classroom, but all the support structures in the schools, that’s outstanding. I applaud the Mayor for making this investment."
There is no better reflection of Mayor Walsh’s commitment to equal opportunity than the City’s continued strong investment in public education. Over the past six years Boston has grown annual public education spending at the Boston Public Schools (BPS), charter schools and Universal Pre-Kindergarten by over $360 million. This unprecedented level of investment makes up 40% of all new city funds that have been added to the annual budget.
Boston’s most recent BPS budget includes $1.177 billion to support high-quality education for all BPS students. This overall level of investment of $1.177 million is not only at historic levels, but represents a 37 percent increase in per-student funding since FY14, up to over $22,000 per student. Included in this year’s current budget is a $15 million investment in a quality pre-Kindergarten fund, which will guarantee access to free, high-quality pre-K for all 4-year olds living in Boston within five years. Other signature investments include free MBTA passes to all Boston students in grades 7-12; full-time nurses in every school, additional mental health counselors, and tuition-free community college available to BPS graduates. Building on the continued investments in BPS, the Fiscal Year 2021 budget for Boston Public Schools will be formally presented to the Boston School Committee on February 5th.
Following years of advocacy and hard work from led by a coalition of mayors, city leaders, parents, teachers, and advocates, the Massachusetts Legislature recently passed a landmark education finance reform law that was signed into law by the Governor. The law will directly benefit Boston’s students with $100 million in additional funding per year once in full effect in the next seven years. Today’s announcement bolsters this new state funding by putting this direct investment into our school systems effective in the new fiscal year in June.