BPS schools told to prepare for cuts

We're starting to hear from folks associated with elementary schools in Roslindale, Jamaica Plain and Hyde Park that Court Street's sent directives to principals to submit budgets that include cuts - in the case of one small school, $65,000, which would mean eliminating a teacher position.

BPS says it will publish proposed budget details on Feb. 5 and then hold a month of hearings before the School Committee makes any decisions.

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$150,000 cut at our little school

Our little school in Jamaica Plain is facing a $150,000 cut to its budget. They are talking about cutting the social worker, staff, or even the length of the school day. It is completely indefensible in an urban school to cut a social worker. I feel like our school's success is being sabotaged.

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Bumps in the night

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You better also prepare for union bumping. When positions are eliminated, union seniority kicks in, so those with more time on the books can move to other jobs via seniority (called "bumping") which is part of the collective bargaining contract.

'Tis the season for that, and many city departments are already in full swing and sending letters in notification to some that they have been "bumped" from their job. In turn those bumped can also bump someone else depending on how much seniority they have. And so the domino effect takes place and your well-established familiar face goes elsewhere in order to keep their job and benefits, be it at a lower pay scale.

In the end, low wo/man on the pole is out the door.

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The pensions aren't bloated,

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The pensions aren't bloated, they're a retirement plan. If you're so jealous of them you could become a teacher. But you probably don't want to because it's hard job or you're dumb or something.

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Well

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If your making $100,000+ annually, you should have no problem contributing to your own retirement.

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Teachers hired after 2001

Teachers hired after 2001 contribute 11 % of their annual salaries to the pension fund. It was 9 percent prior, but included a provision for kicking in an extra 2 percent for salaries over $30,000.

http://www.massbudget.org/report_window.php?loc=Pension_3_11.html

Bear in mind, as part of the pension process, teachers are not eligible to pay into or receive social security. That may be the case for all public employees paying into a pension system, but I'm not 100 percent sure.

Pension reform is definitely coming in some form. I just don't see how it can be done without maintaining the system for those already in it who a) were compelled to pay a significant chunk of their salaries into the system (there is no opt out) b) weren't eligible and haven't paid into Social Security.

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Nope, a lot more than that

Have you ever lived with at teacher? Obviously not. Weekend grading. Lesson planning. New classes to be taught every year needing new lesson plans and materials.

185 days? Yeahhhhhh. Riggghhhhhtttt. Oh and they only work from 8-2 pm too. Hahahahahahaha.

But, hey, you could try your hand at teaching and show everybody how that is done.

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Like any other professional job

Geez Swirly, calm down. You always have to go into mega-hyperbole attack mode.

Yes, between friends and family, I'm very familiar with the trials and tribulations of teaching. If I want to hear teacher stories, all I have to do is talk to my recently retired inner-city teacher sister and I can get 40+ years worth of stories.

Anyways, every other professional job I know has its moments, long hours, extra days, weekends.
For comparison's sake, it's still ~185 days.

As for your offer, NFW I'm teaching. ;-) There aren't enough drugs in the world to get me up early and face screaming kids all day.

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Consider this

With around 250 work days a year, three weeks of vacation, two weeks of holidays, many professionals work about 225 days a year. I've been at the same place for long enough that my work year is down to about 215 days. (not counting weekend days spent traveling or clearing crunches ... but I get comp time over a certain number of hours, too).

Guess what: I don't know a teacher who works less than 200 ... and that's not counting a full day each weekend during the term (because that is often what the workload is). Most put three full-time weeks each year over the summer into prep work and training.

Sorry if you feel attacked, but the "only 185 dayyyyssss" is one MYTH that has to end NOW.

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People can't expect

to retire. Thats outrageous and an affront to the job creators who sacrifice a great deal. If we can bring back child labor and the 7 day work week all of our lives will improve.

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Police

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The new police contract.

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I remember a commentator made

I remember a commentator made a lengthy comment attacking budget items including the police contact as it eats a larger and larger percentage of the total budget and thus will start to strain Boston if not by cuts than greater taxes. Apparently, it seems that commentator words are showing its truth.

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Guessing that was me

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Revenue Growth (actual and projected) from 2009 (post crisis) to 2016 is 2.85%.

Schools, public safety, health care (estimated) and fixed costs (debt, pensions, fees to state) will grow from 78% of the budget to about 84% of the budget by 2016 under a "flat funding" assumption. Doesn't sound huge until you consider that that would mean a 30% or so cut to all "other" services to fund those few categories.

The fastest of these by far is fixed costs at over 7% per year and the city has very little control over this expense - pension expenses are skyrocketing (one thing I'm not sure about is whether that includes some of the catch-up fees we have been contributing or if they are elsewhere in the budget - I think it's somewhere else but not sure).

They've been able to keep public safety costs roughly flat by cutting staff. It looks like now it's the school department's turn - although I'm guessing police and fire with the generous contracts will probably have to continue cutting non-uniformed personnel.

One thing - keep in mind what the government considers a "cut" - if you reduce an increase - that's a cut in their language. The initial budget had a huge increase for the school department so I'm guessing the "cuts" are actually reduced increases or flat funding - not cuts the way most people think of them. However, when the collective bargaining increases are 4% or more when revenues are going up at 2.85%, something's got to give.

Even scarier - the city gets most of its revenue increases from new real estate development and we are in the middle of a boom. If that goose stops laying its golden eggs - this can get a lot worse without other new revenue sources which is why Murphy said the police contract is the last one that can be so generous.

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Oh, good god!

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The Boston Public Schools, in general, are in bad enough shape as it is. How much more budget-cutting is going to be done to the Boston Public Schools before that whole system goes under??

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Chicken Little Strikes Again

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Consider the schools in Everett, in New Bedford, in Fall River, in Brockton, in Springfield and Holyoke ... Boston would be an excellent choice from that group!

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I understand

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I understand Boston Public gets its money from the city and its taxes, but SOME money does come from the state in local aid.

And I hate to be "that guy" but we have a Gov who wants to throw 20 million at Climate Change. Not saying this isn't important, but ya know I think our schools come first (along with roads, bridges, the MBTA, and so on)

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uh yeah no

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Not quite.. Local Aid meaning $$$ allocated on a state level from the state's coffers given local city and towns for funding.

While I agree with your links are wasteful spending, both are tax breaks, not writing a check. (Yeah it could be deemed as similar but it really is not)

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pre-k?

Didn't both Walsh and DeBlasio promise universal Pre-K for the schools? How can either Boston or NYC pay for this without making major cuts elsewhere?

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Priorities?

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Didn't I just read Mayor Walsh wants to build a park with fountains and soccer fields in City Hall Plaza and fix up City Hall if he can't sell it to a developer because it "looks dirty"? How about spending the money on education, Marty, and going out with a broom and a dustpan? Is this bright idea to cut elementary education coming from his chief of staff from Andover or the corporation counsel from Everett who are ever so invested in Boston now that they are collecting salaries out of my property taxes?

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My son's BPS school

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is facing a $550,000 cut. Unbelievable. We struggle with our existing budget, this is unreal.

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Quick repeat

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For those not willing to wade through my post above - the school budget was targeted to go up 6% or $50 million this year. This "cut" probably means they are getting the same as last year or a smaller bump. I highly doubt any school is actually getting cuts unless they've lost students for some reason.

When the city says "cuts" they mean less of an increase. They speak a different language that is designed to maximize public outrage and justify new revenue sources.

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Losing staff and programming

Hi Stevil,

I read your post. But this is the alarming thing. Schools are talking about cutting staff and programs. I thought it was just our school. But I'm hearing via social media that it is all over the city. So this can't just be the status quo. I just heard the Curley could lose 14 people. We are looking at losing our social worker, paras and possibly our Playworks (coach).

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Do you have proof Stevil?

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My son's small elementary school is also cutting at least 2 staff positions for next year after a large funding cut. This is not an issue of losing students. These are preliminary budgets for next year, so we are hoping things will change. Perhaps the central office is wanting to see what kind of budgets the principals can come up with much less money and then they'll iterate from there. I respect your doubts of real cuts, but unless you can prove that these are just smaller increases, it just comes across as cynicism.

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Ask more questions

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Preliminary budget claims school spending is going up 6% next year (and that usually assumes flat staff/students - what costs are going up 6% or more?!). Keep in mind - this excludes teacher's pensions which no longer even appear ANYWHERE on the city budget so that's not the cause.

If they cut ALL the increases out of the school budget -that is - just had a flat dollar amount - the schools single handedly close the entire city's deficit except the cost of the new police contract. Highly doubtful - and that still means zero budget cuts (but some heads may have to go because somebody's gotta pay for raises, health care increases, staff pensions which are included etc.).

Also - not sure about specific schools - but there are any number of new charters opening up this year - which means fewer students - charter payments are NOT in the school budget - so even flat funding means an increase per student if that happens.

Check the old papers - this is the same old dance - Novemberish - release a doomsday budget showing massive deficits. January - declare doomsday is here and threaten the schools which gets lots of press, Aprilish - declare doomsday has come and gone with little or no impact beyond some attrition that nobody ends up noticing and the politicians talk about all their hard work. June - pass a balanced budget.

Will the preliminary budget get cut - almost certainly. Will there be at least the same amount of funds as last year - almost certainly. How do we pay for raises, cost increases - same way we have in the past - with hundreds or even thousands of kids heading to new charters that are opening we use these savings to fund the increases.

Last year's budget was $881 million. The preliminary is $937 million. Odds are on an ultimate budget of about $900 million. Unless there is a mass exodus to charters I don't see it going below $881 million and system wide you'd need to cut about 100 heads out of 8300 staff - maybe - to balance the budget. There has to be at least 1-2% waste in the system that can get wrung out and I'm not even sure that's necessary.

One caveat - some of these cuts may be from the "external funds" budget which come from government transfers, grants etc. That's a whole different (and fungible) category from the operating budget. Granted - this includes school lunch, after school programs and a host of other things.

Proof - no - just seen this show 13 of the last 15 years.

Sorry - corrected figures - to reflect 2014 v. 2015 - doesn't change the percentages or dollar differences

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BPS Budget

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http://sdrv.ms/1iWoW3P

Weighted student funding (WSF) is how school budgets are allocated # of students = x dollars; base per-pupil allocations (prior to any special needs being addressed) for BPS are as follows:

BPS FY13-14 Per Pupil Base Rate:
K0 - K1 $6,897
K2 $6,131
1 - 2 $5,364
3 - 5 $4,981
6 - 8 $5,364
9 - 12 $4,981

That is the base allocated per-pupil, more funds are added for students with ELL and special needs depending on their specific needs. The money, under WSF, follows the student instead of the old system of lump-sums being given to a school regardless of the needs of their students. (21 years as a BPS parent who has sat on SSC for most of that and fought with CFO for 11yrs as former SNPAC chair to find out funding in the horribly overwhelming BPS budget) "A school’s budget is calculated by adding the individual funding estimates for every student projected to attend that school in the fall." Of course, there is other money allocated, such a "School Foundation" funds (see understanding BPS budget), Turnaround and "High-Support" schools (Level 3 MCAS designation), etc may lead to other funds or, in the case of High-Support schools, "resources" being allocated to those schools. Then there are other funds which may impact schools' overall budgets: grants, funds raised by the school (SPC, alumni associations, etc) - grants et al are usually for a specific time-period, funds raised by schools are not guaranteed.

What it all comes down to is that there are lots of pieces and numbers to the whole budget process. While you can argue that there is really no "cut" and is usually what BPS claims, when programs and staff are lost, to families affected, it IS a cut.

I am organizing a "how to combat the cuts" (different name probably) info session for families and schools affected by it: NO BPS is not my employer, I am not getting paid to do it, I am a parent organizer who has done this and knows how and what we need to do though and am willing to help those who want to learn.... planning for this to take place hopefully next week if any are interested!

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BPS Budget

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http://sdrv.ms/1iWoW3P

Weighted student funding (WSF) is how school budgets are allocated # of students = x dollars; base per-pupil allocations (prior to any special needs being addressed) for BPS are as follows:

BPS FY13-14 Per Pupil Base Rate:
K0 - K1 $6,897
K2 $6,131
1 - 2 $5,364
3 - 5 $4,981
6 - 8 $5,364
9 - 12 $4,981

That is the base allocated per-pupil, more funds are added for students with ELL and special needs depending on their specific needs. The money, under WSF, follows the student instead of the old system of lump-sums being given to a school regardless of the needs of their students. (21 years as a BPS parent who has sat on SSC for most of that and fought with CFO for 11yrs as former SNPAC chair to find out funding in the horribly overwhelming BPS budget) "A school’s budget is calculated by adding the individual funding estimates for every student projected to attend that school in the fall." Of course, there is other money allocated, such a "School Foundation" funds (see understanding BPS budget), Turnaround and "High-Support" schools (Level 3 MCAS designation), etc may lead to other funds or, in the case of High-Support schools, "resources" being allocated to those schools. Then there are other funds which may impact schools' overall budgets: grants, funds raised by the school (SPC, alumni associations, etc) - grants et al are usually for a specific time-period, funds raised by schools are not guaranteed.

What it all comes down to is that there are lots of pieces and numbers to the whole budget process. While you can argue that there is really no "cut" and is usually what BPS claims, when programs and staff are lost, to families affected, it IS a cut.

I am organizing a "how to combat the cuts" (different name probably) info session for families and schools affected by it: NO BPS is not my employer, I am not getting paid to do it, I am a parent organizer who has done this and knows how and what we need to do though and am willing to help those who want to learn.... planning for this to take place hopefully next week if any are interested!

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Is this speculation or fact?

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Are you speculating when you say

This "cut" probably means they are getting the same as last year or a smaller bump

or do you actually have some specific insight into the proposed budget, beyond your understanding that the projection is that the budget will go up 6%?

As I understand it, schools have been told that their budgets are literally decreasing - next year's budget will be smaller than this year's. There are also mandatory spending increases that make the budget cuts that much more painful. When you say "unless they've lost students for some reason", I think you're getting closer to one of the things that's going on. These budgets are based on projections of student enrollment. I've heard that last year BPS overestimated enrollment, so this year's school budgets actually ended up higher than they would have had the projections been accurate. This year, of course, they will make corrections to those projections and so, no matter the actual enrollment change, the projections - and the school budgets with them - are likely to go down. Unfortunately, even when based on overestimates school budgets are quite tight, so this "correction" is quite painful.

Now, if the overall budget does go up $50 million while most individual schools' budgets are decreased, that will cause some public outrage.

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That's an interesting point

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If they overestimated student count and now have to "adjust" for it this year. However, that shouldn't lead to the cuts people are talking about - unless we hired a lot of new people last year (head count went up about 1.25% - mostly special ed teachers or paraprofessionals - so not outrageous).

After watching this charade for over a decade this will all die down in a few months and the politicians will declare victory - depends a lot on student count but assuming flat student count system-wide you will probably see a 2-3% bump in the total budget and few if any layoffs. That cut right there pays for the entire projected deficit except the new police contract and I don't see the new mayor sticking his head in a meat grinder by saying BPS has to pay all $50 million or so of next year's deficit. Even if he does it means the system has flat spending. BPS will end up mostly level funding and we'll find another $25 million (a whopping 1% of the budget) somewhere else - and that will get us through FY 2015.

Unless there's some other hidden time bomb in the budget like an outsized increase in health care that we don't know about - that should take care of it, but I've never seen something suddenly "emerge" like that on the expense side. The only exceptions have been state aid cuts reducing revenue - once under Romney following the dot com bust and later by Patrick after the financial crisis.

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We'll have to wait for February 5, I guess

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I'm certainly curious to find out more of the details. In any case, this cycle of budget crisis (whether real or manufactured) followed by miraculous restoration of funds (again, whether real or manufactured) is unnecessary, stressful, and bad for BPS's reputation.

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I've been pondering Stevil's

I've been pondering Stevil's point, and I think it may be a matter of semantics. The reality is that the district's costs are likely to go up based on the normal yearly increase in salaries and healthcare etc. States like New York - where voters directly approve school budgets - describe these costs as "contingent" meaning they are obligated to pay these costs due to state, federal, and contractual obligations. Regardless of what the voters say, these expenses will be budgeted and taxes raised to pay them. The remainder of the school budget, extra staff, special programs, athletics are "discretionary" and subject to local cuts and increases.

So in this case, the contingent costs to the city school district may be rising, perhaps significantly. As a result, the city wants to cut discretionary costs to try and limit the blow to taxpayers. In this instance, it's possible for Stevil to see an incresae in spending, while individual schools are being asked to eliminate costs from their building's "discretionary" budgets.

Just a theory.

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Meanwhile, in the suburbs....

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and particularly in the more affluent suburbs, the talk is all about expanding resources for schools (e.g., all day kindergarten in Wellesley, major school expansions in Brookline to accommodate the exploding student population, etc.)

As I have said here many, many times before, all of the talk about "keeping families in the city" is just talk unless and until the city is able to remove, or at least significantly reduce, the uncertainty associated with the BPS. It does not cost significantly more to live in many suburbs (obviously this does not apply to Wellesley or Brookline, but certainly some neighborhoods of, e.g., Natick, Braintree, etc.) than it does to live in most parts of the city, and given the choice between less uncertainty in the suburban school districts and the near constant uncertainty and political nonsense that buffets the BPS, many people with kids will continue to choose the suburbs.

Interestingly, the other consideration many people (particularly with kids) have is public safety. I personally think that the city has done a good job with that (excepting several neighborhoods where the violence is still horrific), but to the extent that (as some here have suggested) a budget battle is setting up between the police department and the schools, the city is guaranteed to fail in its (hopefully non-lip service) stated goal of keeping families in town.

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Those citys/towns didn't give

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Those citys/towns didn't give away the store in employee contracts or overgenerous & underfunded pension liabilities.

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Is there a table or chart

Is there a table or chart available online somwhere that shows comparisons between the base salary of a teacher with 15 years experience in Boston vs. the same teacher in Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, Newton, Weston?

The same with police officiers/fire fighters.

I'd generally be curious to see if the salaries/benefits are generally the same or if there was some sort of pattern.

And I can confirm that the building my spouse teaches in has been told to reduce their expenses by about $180,000 next year so it doesn't appear to be a "cut" in the spending increase.

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average teacher salaries

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Here you go:
http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/bbj_research_alert/2013/04/which-...

Also, you can lookup any individual teacher's salary at the Boston Herald "Your Tax Dollars at Work":
http://bh.heraldinteractive.com/projects/your_tax_dollars.bg?src=Boston2...

Be prepared to be surprised. I do not think the teachers are overpaid, but I think many people assume Boston school teachers toil in 3rd world country conditions while making low salaries and that is just not true.

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Those numbers are somewhat

Those numbers are somewhat useful, but the problem is they don't really tell us much about how specific municiapalities bargain with their various employee unions.

Take for example the average teacher salary. If town a has a. younger average teaching staff than town b., it may look like they are more reserved in their bargaining when in reality, they may be very generous to teaches with 10 or 15 years experience. They just don't have a large number of teachers in that classifcation to skew their averages. For example, the first link showed that Boston's average salary actually decreased from 2011 to 2012. You and I both know that John Q Boston teacher didn't see their salary drop between those two years.

Individual teacher or police information is all well and good, but at what classification is that person being compensated at? Does teacher a have a bachelors degree plus 15 credits while another teacher has a masters degree plus 30 credits?

Finally, where are the specific towns in their contract process? Boston's police, teacher and firefighter contracts are relatively recent. If Cambridge and Newton's contracts are 4 or 5 years old and they are beginning their process of renegotating, it's possible that there current contract might look austere compared to Boston, but be higher than Boston at the end of the negotiation.

What we really need is some sort of chart outlining what towns pay staff on a classification basis in addition to how old their collective bargaining agreements are. I've searched on the web for reports like this a few times and haven't come up with anything. I suspect it doesn't exist because frankly, the process of putting it together would probably be mind-numbing. Plus, you're ultimately dealing with moving targets.

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This study has some large

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This study has some large Massachusetts cities and addtional information on salaries & age
http://www.hks.harvard.edu/var/ezp_site/storage/fckeditor/file/pdfs/cent...

Table 2. Educational attainment of Massachusetts teachers
Percentage distribution of school teachers by degree earned, 2003-04
Share of minority students in school
Share of low-income students in school
Urbanicity of the school
Suburban/rural

Table 7. Projected teacher retirements, 2010-11 through 2019-20
Massachusetts and the 10 largest school districts

Appendix Table 2. Stayers, leavers, and movers, 2007-08 to 2008-09
A. Stayers, leavers, and movers by age
B. Stayers, leavers, and movers by length of service in district

Appendix Table 3. Turnover rates of Massachusetts teachers, 2007-08 to 2008-09
Percentage of teachers in each district who moved to another district or left teaching completely

Appendix Table 5. Massachusetts teachers' length of service in current district, 2008-09

Appendix Table 11. Projected teacher retirements as share of annual attrition and annual hiring needs, 2010-11 through 2019-20
Massachusetts and the 10 largest school districts
Retirees as a percentage of each year's attrition

Appendix Table 14. Massachusetts school districts by students' characteristics, 2007-08
Low-income districts: High-income districts: High-minority districts: Low-minority districts: Urban districts:

~~~~~
Massachusetts Teaching, Learning and Leading Survey (Mass TeLLS) Home Page. URL: http://masstells.org/

Liu, E., Jonson, S.M. and Peske, H.G. (2004). “New Teachers and the Massachusetts Signing Bonus: The Limits of Inducements.”
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 26 (3): 217-236.

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While some suburbs do

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While some suburbs do increase resources, they do so by passing Prop 2 1/2 overrides, and increase residential taxes to pay for education. Boston has not taken that path. Most feel it is politically impossible.

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Libraries and Pensions

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Several millions will be spent on revamping the BPL's Johnson building. Is now the right time to do that? Especially considering a few years ago the Library director was screaming just a few years ago that they needed to close branches.

What other options exist?

Are wealthy Bostonians paying their fair share? Ironically some probably are whether in the form of high property assessments and their financial support of non-profit institutions. But if they're not then the tax rates need to increase.

Is it time to treat pensions not as sacrosanct? Are pensions written in stone? Are they legally absolute? Will pensions break the city's fiscal back if they are not reduced.

I understand the resentment that retirees will feel if they are told that their pensions will be reduced. But just as their jobs were never guaranteed by God, and were ultimately employees at will (like most people), perhaps pensions should be treated the same.

Whether new developments are providing their fair share is debatable. Consider the tax breaks provided to Liberty Mutual and the Filene's site developer. How many other new developments will actually not pay their share of property taxes?

About property taxes they actually went down this year. They went from $13.14 to $12.58.

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The RATE went down - TAXES went up

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Taxes went up on average 2.5% citywide on all existing properties like they do every year. Some paying a little more - some a little less - but the taxes went up even though the rate is lower.

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Using that pension logic

an employer can argue that you were overpaid in the past and you'll have to refund a portion of your past pay whether or not you're still work for that employer. You bought a home for $30,000 in 1974. The bank lent you $25,000. You sold in 2013 for $1,000,000. The bank should share in that gain since they owned the house too.

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The other part is downsizing

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The other part is downsizing the ratio of administrators to teachers. Teachers should never be outnumbered by admins.

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Reducing busing would be a good step.

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I know the arguments for busing but sheesh...sometimes it seems like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Can we not find a way so that some kid in Charlestown doesn't have to be bused to Roxbury and vice versa? And I still have NO idea why private school kids are using BPS buses. If you want to spend $40k a year on school for your kid then surely you can find a way to get them there? It's like me saying "well, I really would prefer not to take the T to work--please subsidize the cost of my Honda.

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"private school kids are using BPS buses"

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Well their parents help pay for them and the $40k a year it cost to educate a BPS student via the property tax just like the parents who send their kids to BPS.

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'' Except as herein provided,

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'' Except as herein provided, pupils who attend approved private schools of elementary and high school grades shall be entitled to the same rights and privileges as to transportation to and from school as are provided by law for pupils of public schools and shall not be denied such transportation because their attendance is in a school which is conducted under religious auspices or includes religious instruction in its curriculum ''

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXII/Chapter76/Sect...

But yes indeed they did open a hornets nest with the busing years ago............

It still makes no sense.

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I just can't see any good reason why public funds are going to provide essentially a private service for people who have chosen to opt out of the public system. Again--it's like the T. If you don't want to take it and opt instead for the extra comfort and luxury of using your own car, fine, but don't expect me to buy your gas.

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Kids from Charlestown aren't being bused to Roxbury

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Unless they are going to one of the exam schools, for which BPS does have school buses, but only because Charlestown/Roxbury T service sucks. The two neighborhoods are in different assignment zones.

One of the disappointing things about the Grand Rezoning last year was to learn that changing zones would save no busing money whatsoever, that in fact it would increase busing costs for a few years because of the decision to grandfather in kids already in schools outside of their new areas. Given that school officials and Menino had made these busing costs the prime reason to eliminate the three old zones for years was, to say the least, kind of a letdown.

Well they *were*

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Under the old zoning Charlestown was a school option for my son (we live on Mission Hill, which technically is Roxbury). Lucky for us we got a school closer to home, for which we are still eligible for bus transportation which we rarely use.... There could be a reduction I busing costs, but I had no idea how, besides the low hanging fruit of busing private school kids.....

I agree with the idea of curbing busing, Sally, but

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I personally think that the only way that could/would be made possible would be to work to change Boston's housing patterns, which are still quite segregated. Changing the housing patterns, imho, is something that could've/should've been done more than 40 years ago, by B-BURG (Boston Banks Urban Renewal Group), a consortium of some 20 Boston-area banks that operated in cahoots with Boston-area Real Estate Agencies, which had been introduced shortly after MLK's assassination a month earlier. Instead of creating integrated neighborhoods throughout the city of Boston, however, B-BURG deliberately and knowingly targeted and red-lined Boston's Jewish neighborhoods (i. e. North Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan), for the program that was ostensibly to help low-income, first-time African-American homebuyers to break out of the ghetto and assume the responsibility of homeownership for the first time, under FHA (Federal Housing Administration)-insured loans. Often enough, African-American homebuyers who'd found decent housing that they liked that were a mere few blocks outside the red-lined B-BURG areas were denied the loan and prohibited from purchasing housing outside the B-BURG limits.

The results of B-BURG' s actions were disastrous, however. The banks and real estate agents affiliated with the B-BURG program waged a racially-charged campaign in the Jewish areas, warning Jewish families to "get out now" before property values declined, fueling and escalating already-existing white Jewish flight from the ares. There were also threats, arsons, fire-bombings, break-ins, and threatening phone calls of all kinds, which sped up the pre-existing Jewish flight from the "redlined" areas, hence creating an overcrowded, crime-infested ghetto area that still stands today.

Far from helping African-Americans to break out of the ghetto, B-BURG had only expanded, extended, widened and re-inforced the ghetto. Had B-BURG operated differently, there would've been more integrated housing in the city of Boston, eliminating the need for mandatory school busing, and there would've been more integrated, educationally better public schools in Boston for both white and non-white students alike.

Not quite the same issue anymore

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Busing hasn't been done for racial reasons in Boston for a long time, given that the school system is now approaching 90% minority enrollment.

If we are going to talk history, though, we might want to talk about why a suburban judge decided that, unlike in other metropolitan areas, he was not going to insist that suburbs be incorporated into desegregation plans.

True

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But it's amazing how swiftly all the old demons raise up the minute anyone starts discussing busing. The biggest difference, I think (and I'm speaking strictly from observation and not any hard numbers) is that there are no longer predominantly white working-class/ lower income neighborhoods in Boston. Charlestown, South Boston, Jamaica Plain (always more of a mix), Roslindale, North End, East Boston...they've all changed hugely since the early 1970s, either in racial makeup, income level or both. So...different playing field, a lot of the same old arguments. And yes...in retrospect a lot of the decisions made seem almost bizarre.

imagine if every family

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in Boston sent their children to Public School, BPS would be screwed.

No, actually.

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The more educated, middle- and upper-class people were involved in the schools (the folks who are now moving to the burbs or sending their kids to privates) the more they'd demand--more schools, more resources, more services. The schools would probably make huge strides.

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Can't

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Not without massive new revenue. Just on the operating budget side - if you added the 20,000 or so kids to BPS that go to private parochial (and I don't think that includes charters) you'd need to come up with over $300 million in new revenue.

Where? You could do an override - but good luck getting that passed when 90% of the population has no kids in the schools and never will.

There's a fairly valid argument that the lip service the city pays to education is deliberate. We could never afford to educate the 40-60% bump in student population if they ever came back to the schools unless we massively cut everyone's salaries and bennies.

Keep in mind - Boston spends more per capita than almost every city and town in the state - and that's with only about 8% of the population in schools versus an average of about 12% or so. Only Cambridge with just 5% of the population in public schools and a relatively huge commercial tax base can hold a candle to Boston in spendthriftiness.

This is all theoretical, right?

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I mean--we're not realistically talking about some event where 20,000 kids are suddenly added to the BPS system, right? I'm just observing, I guess, that in some ways it's the families that leave that we need most--or rather we need more of them. But while we're at it--it can't really be true that only ten percent of the city population has kids in the BPS, can it?

No theory

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Actual numbers - I'm doing this from memory -but I think there are about 85,000 school age kids in the city and only 55,000 in BPS. 30,000 go somewhere else - I'm assuming 10,000 go to charters (and are staying there) and that if you suddenly turned Boston into Brookline - that most of the remaining kids would leave the privates/parochials and return to Boston. Pick any number though - 5000, 10,000 20,000 - multiply by about $15,000 and that's the added cost to BPS just on the operating costs which only represent about 75% of the total costs. To balance the budget you either need that much more or need to cut that much out of everything else (and remember - fixed costs and BPS alone are roughly half the budget - so you have to cut that out of half the budget assuming you can't touch fixed costs and aren't touching BPS). That pretty much means you have to go after benefits and public safety to balance the budget because after that, there's very little left.

It's 8.7% of the total population (55,000/635,000) or, assuming an average of two kids per household that have kids in BPS, that's 27,500 households - almost exactly 10% of the number of housing units in the city. Perhaps not exact, but not far off.

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Race to the top grant.....

I noticed this $15 million per year grat expires next year. That's a lot of damn money, and Massachusetts was awarded $250 million after the second round.

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Well Peter

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Hopefully we can cut your $150/hr dead end details and put it towards something useful. Like a child's education.

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Dumb anon.....

As you can easily find out, detail pay isn't included in any budget, but the city does make about $500,000 a year in surcharges on those details though.....

Plus no one ever made close to $150 an hour, it's around $30 for side streets.

It must be horrible being a lazy, jealous failure that couldn't even pass the police exam!

External funds

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Note - that money comes from external funds - not the operating account. These are "program funds" with either very specific targets (like school lunch) or grant money that has hard time limits on it. The schools don't and can't count on them from year to year which is why they are funded separately.

Looking at the power point provided by CKcollette below it looks like my analysis on level funding was correct (and that doesn't include external funds which may be why some "staff" like social workers are being cut. They are by design non-permanent employees - many funded by the largesse of the dreaded 1% like Bill Gates and his foundation).

The schools had a slight budget overage this year of about 1% as of October. With the school and fiscal years only half over, it looks like they are searching for other cost savings to get back within budget which should be possible given that enrollment came in about 1500 students below what they expected. The problem is the $50-60 million in cost increases they are expecting for next year - half or more of which is automatic raises and anticipated raises from collective bargaining. If the parents are looking for someone to blame for these shortages - it's not a lack of funding. It's raises that go up 35-60% faster than the city's revenue.

If the parents are outraged, they should call Richard Stutman - not the mayor. No raises = no cuts in one fell swoop.

$15k haha

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The average cost per student at a BI school is $40k.

I know, that shit is crazy. Most if the cost is unionized bus drivers, teachers and admin.

Now, tell the class how much a private school education costs?

I'm not talking "cost to parents", I'm talking full cost per pupil.

I have a friend with kids at Matignon High who is looking forward to spending a lot less when they head to state colleges in the fall.

You read that right. Even the base cost of tuition, fees, room, and board at state universities is cheaper than private high school.

I know another family that put their daughter in a private school (her brother is still in the public schools) for various reasons and that costs them $30K a year.

Sounds like the public schools are doing a pretty good job keeping costs down when you look at both the resources available and the full costs of private schools (which may not even have certified teachers and may expect those teachers to teach three different subjects, some in areas they aren't qualified in).

You are assuming we aren't

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You are assuming we aren't already here. Lots of BPS families - including mine - are comprised of upper-middle class dual-income parents. We have resources to contribute financially to school fundraisers and to volunteer our time. We have the resources to attend parent school council meetings and try to agitate for increased funding. Heck, we would happily pay higher taxes to fund our kids' education.

And yet, we don't magically have increased state and BPS finding for my child's school. We are looking at loosing 2 staff members despite our becoming an inclusion school and needing more staff for special needs kids. We would have gym cut completely for Kindergarten, and are likely to have "extras" like art and music cut. We have no library, no auditorium, only a part time school nurse, not even a real cafeteria.

So don't think there is a total flight from BPS schools by middle class families. We did not leave for the burbs or public schools. We are demanding appropriate basics for ALL BPS kids - but that doesn't make the money appear.

That would be

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Great. Less splintering of students and families in Boston. Let's get rid of the charters while we're at it and everyone will be in the same system, so we can plow more resources, financial and parental, into one school district and make it great.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

At the last school committee meeting over $2 million was approved for school expansion across the city. Mostly this was to be combining schools to serve as pathways. I'm sure there will be more of these discussed in the future. Where is this money coming from? My guess is the money that is cut from other schools. In Roslindale, the Haley will be officially expanding to a K-8 and the district is set to spend $1.7 million on building modular classrooms on the school property, rather than continuing to use the extra and available space at the Rogers. Meanwhile the other six schools in Rozzi are facing cuts between $150,000 and $500,000 EACH. Even if you low-ball it to $200K per school that's still, well, $1.2 million. Hello Haley 6-8.

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Roslindale Pathway

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Irving has had cuts taken every year I have been a parent there (5) of $200-500K each year (the 500K is THIS year), and like Ann In, as a RPAG member since day 1 of the proposal, I did the math as soon as the numbers from our pathway schools started coming in - Haley gets 6-8, our other schools are paying for it with these cuts (I am sure not DIRECTLY, but there is a definite correlation).

Note: BPS via Dr. Johnson promised the Irving and Pathway investments and more resources for the Irving to make it a more acceptable school to parents. Guess what? We have done that - amidst the cuts, because we have written grants, applied for other funds, the annual Gala we have etc... but that should not be how it is done. Our first Gala was specifically set up to buy PAPER for the school - we raised 20K+

Truly what we need to do is yes, go to school committee, write emails, etc to city hall - but also to our state reps and senators, and those who represent us in Congress: tell them that funding our public schools should be one of the top priorities!