Families and Students to Protest Mayor Walsh’s State of the City Address

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is expected to talk about how public schools can thrive in the city during his 2016 State of the City Address on Tuesday night. But a coalition of families, students, educators, community members and groups will be outside before Walsh’s address protesting forecasted school budget shortfalls.

The protest will start at 4:30 pm at the intersection of Westland and Massachusetts avenues under a BSO sign. To follow the protest on social media search for the hashtag #SOTCProtest. Information about the protest was posted on the BPS Education Odyssey website.

The organizers wrote they are “demanding that Mayor Walsh, at a minimum, do the following:”

  1. Join in solidarity with Boston’s students, families and community members to aggressively advocate for our Boston Public Schools at state and federal levels;
  2. Through strategic planning and ambitious revitalization, reduce the BPS budget shortfalls of $50 million this year and $140 million over the last three years;
  3. Invest in fully-resourced community public  schools with wraparound services for Boston’s children;
  4. Work with the true stakeholders of Boston Public Schools: students, families, educators and community members to fully audit BPS’ budget in order to assess community needs and address inequalities; and,
  5. Collaborating with the true stakeholders, demand democratically controlled public schools through an elected Boston School Committee.

This year’s Boston Public Schools’ budget is estimated to be $1.027 billion, which would be a $13.5 million increase compared to last year’s and is the city’s largest-ever budget for the School Department. But that would still be a budget shortfall of around $50 million when calculating expenses have increased while federal and state funding have decreased.

One of the organizers of the protest, Mary Lewis-Pierce, a Jamaica Plain resident, told the Globe that due to budget cuts her daughter’s school has lost a pair of teachers the past two years and a Spanish teacher three years ago. Her daughter attends the Boston Teachers Union School, and she added that parents had to raise $40,000 to pay for the school’s lone sport coach due to financial issues.

  • paul

    I don’t mean to sound ignorant, but why are there budget cuts? Why are the deficits so huge? Who’s getting all this money? Seems like taxes increase but services decrease. It’s not the teachers getting the money and education hasn’t required a multi-million dollar overhaul, so what is being done with this money? Sounds like wherever it is going, it doesn’t deserve to be there!

    • Monster

      The two biggest villains are declining state/federal aid and charter schools. Fifteen years ago, state aid covered about 30% of the BPS budget. Now it’s only around 10%. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars…gone. Compounding that problem is charter schools. Charters drain funding from public schools (they get a per-student allotment paid by the city that is supposed to be reimbursed by the state, but often isn’t). Charters also don’t tend to reduce the demand for local schools, because most parents want small local neighborhood schools, so overall costs increase. Charters also have a nasty habit of accepting a student, taking their per-student allotment, then kicking the student out and keeping their money (if a kid quits or is kicked out of a charter and re-enrolls in BPS, the money doesn’t follow them back).

      So that’s my understanding of the problems on the revenue side. On the cost side, basic prices for everything just tend to rise each year…food, transportation, salaries, maintenance, materials, etc. It all gets more expensive, as inflation is a basic part of any economy.

      • Paul

        Thorough and succinct explanation. Thank you for taking the time to lay it out.