On Wednesday, the Boston City Council will go back to work on the proposed budget for the city’s next fiscal year. Education funding has been the most contentious element of the city’s proposed budget for a number of reasons. While the Boston Public Schools are expecting a budget of a 1.032 billion USD (40 percent of the city’s budget), this figure could well increase after the school department finishes some tense negotiations with the Boston Teacher’s Union. Student walk outs protesting elements of the political situation the school system finds itself in have made things more complicated and the city council more desperate to reach a compromise.
The 8 June 2016 meeting of the city council began with a number of concerned city Councillors voicing apprehension and dissatisfaction with the school district’s budget and the ways in which it would be distributed. Councillor Ayanna Pressley voted to reject the budget, citing concerns about weighted student funding formulas, as well as the number of trauma trained school nurses. Councillor Pressley also cited dissatisfaction with the school system’s means of funding transitioning special education students.
Mayor Marty Walsh tried to balance the matter out by expanding the school system’s budget by 5 million USD to back investment in the school system’s Superintendent Tommy Chang’s program known as “Excellence for All” intended to offer a more challenging curriculum for 13 elementary schools. This program was also intended to extend learning times for special student populations and a new means by which the school system could track transportation data to better track ridership.
City Councillor Tito Jackson and other Councillors did not feel that was enough. According to Councillor Jackson, he was dissatisfied with how the additional funding goes to the central office rather than the schools themselves, claiming that his calculations left the school district with a 26 million USD deficit in the school district’s expenses. Councillor Jackson urged other Councillors to reject the budget until the city’s public schools were fully funded.
Education problems aside, other elements of the budget have also come under scrutiny. The proposed budget included projections of less public safety overtime spending which many city residents do not agree with. The proposed budget also called for lower spending on utilities, though these reductions were born of reduced usage by the city and lower rates. The city council has until 29 June 2016 to approve a final budget for the city of Boston.