A school bake sale

School bake sale at City Hall

BPS parents held a bake sale outside City Hall yesterday to make a point about the impact a $61-million shortfall in the school budget will have on their kids. Several city councilors bought baked goods in support.



Free tagging: 


Cue the Glibertarians and Tax Dodgers in..1..2..3..

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Which indignant cliche spew will it be today?

Those stinkin unions?

I know.. incompetent bureaucrats.. a perennial chestnut that sounds adult.

Charter school shills, here's your opening.


Forgot that one.

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Thanks for covering it.

I'm not a teacher. I'm an 11th grade dropout.

I'm what happens when you cheat on education and it was pretty good back in suburban 1970.


The old Palmer handwriting

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The old Palmer handwriting booklet and the arithmetic tables worked pretty good in the 50's , before the internet , and the tv , for that matter . Throw in the Sisters of No Mercy and you were almost ready for Harvard, oops I meant BC.


Not enough!!!!

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$975 million for operating expenses - not enough
$125 million for external funds - not enough
$100 million for teacher pensions - not enough
$90 million (est.) for other pensions and retiree health care - not enough
$60 million for capital expenses - not enough (and they are hitting up the state for tens of millions more - still not enough)

Tens of thousands of hours of volunteer time - not enough

Free rent - priceless

If you can't give 54,000 (or fewer) students a decent education for $25,000 each (basically a $350k plus scholarship over the 14 years of their school) - you can't get the job done. More money won't fix that.

Get the job done - you already have plenty of (our) money.

Sell more cupcakes. Enough.


Is $25K the Magic Number?

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I'm curious, why do you think $25K is alot to spend on a child's education, particularly considering the challenging socioeconomic demographics of Boston's public schools? Do you have examples of similar school systems that spend less than that and have better outcomes?


Rebuttals/Dissentions to Stevil

Okay, you seem to be one person who is at least skeptical to Stevil. So I'll respond to you direct while also put this question openly to everyone.

$25k is arguably a lot of money when you look that many state college tuitions is less than that per year. General perception is college level education is more resource/capital intensive to educate each student. That's one observation that argues 25k is high.

Another possible argument is the difference $25k versus non-BPS schools. Unlike using the college-education comparison, this argument has the advantage that they are equivalent in what material to teach and school structure.

Another possible argument is more thought experiment (barring some empirical investigation). If the cost material-to-teach, salary, administration, maintenance, and etc cost $_____ amount and the best stuff would add $____ more. How much does that add up per student. One can surmise that it should add up less than $25k per student and adding more arguable means not more means to buy more quality to teach better.

Your central point is founded is the social-economic background of the students in BPS means it does mean it takes more resources to educate a student to the same level versus non-BPS students. Perhaps more than educating students at college. Perhaps more than we would imagine of additional cost versus other systems. Perhaps more than we would guess thinking about resources to.

At the moment, our gut instinct is to view $25k per student as that a lot. And barring more information of where's the money is going, it is a reasonable thought.


In the end, where I am going all of this. Stevil seems to be post repeatedly the budgetory numbers for BPS. A strong stance of a lack of sympathy to BPS cries for help as the numbers say at they seem to say. So far, while I seen comments skeptical-of-Stevil/Supportive-to-BPS (if only not to fire teachers). What is the rebuttal to Stevil?

Are the numbers wrong? Are our understanding of what it cost to educate a student wrong and requires higher numbers (and your reasoning to why compared to other comparable systems)? What is the basis to dismiss his argument?

If I go by Stevil's numbers. I have to conclude it indicates what already derived from it. But we still have BPS trying to do a bake sale as a political demonstration. So what's going on here?


But have you actually been

But have you actually been reading Stevil's posts? Even he acknowledges that the state and federal governments have been cutting education aid. If you took any school district in country, even the most poorly financed, and just listed expenses the numbers would seem large. Or for that matter, if you took any governmentally funded operation. That doesn't mean that the entity is well resourced. It just looks "big" when listed.


I'm going by what he Stevil

I'm going by what he Stevil at the head of this string of comments listed: $25k per student. With listing of other budgetary items. He acknowledges State/Federal been cutting aid, but Stevil still seem to be saying that overall budget remains healthy and not truly feeling a cut. He also been repeatedly pointing out there's less students so that should mean less expenditures.

One rebuttal is Stevil citation of overall budgetary numbers is incorrect. But I haven't heard an argument raising that. You are pointing out cuts, but he pointing out overall so that would indicate the losses of revenue has been offset. So what's off with the overall budget?


What you are omitting in your arguments

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The tuition for Catholic schools, which do NOT have to educate kids with physical disabilities and mental challenges is around $30K a year - defrayed only by legalized gambling and compulsory fundraisers.

These schools don't even come CLOSE to offering the same education to the same population as public schools - yet they are MORE expensive.

Matignon High? A friend is looking forward to paying only $20K a year to UMass Amherst (with small scholarship) rather than $35K a year to Matignon AND having to feed and transport her kid on top of that.

have you looked at full tuition?

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except in-state college tuition is subsidized - the "less-than-25k" is only what in-state students pay, and does not reflect actual cost per student. out-of-state tuition is much higher and reflect actual cost of attending the school - although I'm not 100% sure if that isn't also somewhat subsidized.

have you looked at full-tuition costs for attending private K-12s around here? they're definitely more than 25k a year.


Just to throw this out there.

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Just to throw this out there. College tuition is not the biggest income source for most colleges and universities. If they had to make ends meet on that alone, fees would be much much higher!


No you fool.

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The idea was to raise awareness that the budged cuts are making a huge impact at a number of schools. There is $61 Million less in the budget than last year, and students have to say good-bye to some of their favorite teachers.

After going to every public budget meeting there was to make our point, the budget was still cut, and this was a tongue in cheek way to bring the point home.


Who da fool?

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Wrong, wrong and wrong

First of all - there are multiple budgets and accounts:

In the operating account they needed about $60 million to fund everything they did last year - including raises and various cost increases. The city funded $36 million of that $60 million. BUT - they planned for hundreds more students to enroll that never showed up. AND the schools will shrink next year again because of some new charters going in (charters are not funded by this budget). Bottom line - they don't need the other $24 million because over those two years they will probably lose hundreds or thousands of students - plus - let's face it in a $1 billion budget there has to be a percent or two of waste that you can find. The operating budget was not cut - it grew by almost 4% - for about 1-2% fewer students. Expenditures per student and staff per student will still easily be almost the highest in history - except possibly for last year when there was a huge amount of slack in the system.

The second "cut" they are claiming is about $10 million in state aid. Two things: As best I can tell they are double counting. This money doesn't flow directly into the school budget. It flows into the general funds budget. But from those funds we are giving the schools $36 million in extra money. If you want to be technical - what we are doing is giving the schools $36 million MORE money PLUS we are funding the $10 million state aid loss out of pocket. Second: the formulas to calculate this are based on need. We have fewer students AND we have very healthy growth in our city revenues - so the formulas dictate sending that money elsewhere like Lynn, New Bedford and Springfield where the need is greater relative to the revenue the city can produce.

The final "cut" is $20 million in federal funding which appears to be money that goes into the "external funds" budget. Many of these funds are also per capita -which explains some of it. Some of the money is granted for limited periods etc. This is bonus program money - and none of it should ever be counted on from year to year or used for basic operating expenses. And you are barking up the wrong tree with a bake sale at city hall. You should get on the phone to Elizabeth Warren and find out what happened to that.

Finally - nobody's favorite teacher is getting fired. In fact very few teachers are getting let go - most of this is probably happening by attrition and most of the headcount reductions are in the lower grades due to low enrollment - plus some aids. So unless your kid is repeating kindergarten with a first year teacher - he/she is not losing their "favorite" teacher.




I agree with you about the Race to the Top Funding. They should have planned for the fact that the aid was never permanent. Instead, it seemed to have been used as a stop gap measure.

I don't know any teachers that are being laid off, but schools are losing support service personnel. I have a job that takes me to a lot of different school districts. Last week, I was in an elementary school in wealthy town. That school had a library, a librarian, a school psychologist and a school nurse.

In contract, my son's school has no library, no librarian, we are losing our part time social worker, our part time school nurse, and two para professionals that are aids to special needs kids. There is a difference between a well resourced school, and a school that has been cut to the bone financially.

I know that we are never going to come to an agreement about education funding. But it is not "nothing" that schools are losing personnel and programs.


But you are making the wrong argument

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It shouldn't be - we need more. It should be where the hell is it all going.

Look at Boston's per capita spending - on an operating basis it's as high or higher than every other large district in the state except Cambridge (which is truly off the charts).

Bottom line - if we give the schools more - we have to either raise taxes (residential property taxes have roughly doubled in the past 10 years already - some of this is new construction - most isn't) or cut something else.

What would you tax?

In the alternative where would you cut?

The state and feds are broke - and we are lucky we get what we get - they will probably have to cut further. That leaves us. Where do you suggest it comes from?


I have a feeling that we will

I have a feeling that we will be permanently severed with my opinion on this. But I don't think the city can be expected to bridge the shortfall on state and federal spending. The state and the federal government need to raise taxes to fund education. Education costs money. IDEA has never been fully funded.

Or I don't know - legalize a vice and tax the hell out of it. Stick a few cents tax on every can of soda. This isn't a problem that is insolvable. There is just no political will behind the solutions.


I don't think that's realistic

I think it would be much healthier for BPS and families to plan for conservative (figural meaning, not political) funding levels and make that work. The realities is that the federal budget is largely controlled by the GOP at this point and that's not likely to change, suddenly freeing up tons of aid. It would be great, but it's not coming. As such, the city leadership needs to serve the interests of the city's families and get the best out of BPS. I'd think even in the state, places like Lowell and Fall River are much bigger priorities for funding as they don't have the tax base we do.

Short Version seems to be

Short Version seems to be Googie Baba points out non-BPS schools have all kinds of things that well-resourced school to give maximum support and education to students while BPS schools does not have those personnel and actually cutting back.

But Stevil points out BPS tends to have more money per student than those other schools. Thus implying BPS should have the money to buy/hire the same or higher quality material/personnel as non-BPS school. But its actions indicate the opposite.

This does raise why can't BPS having more money able to hire/buy the same level of support as non-BPS


I actually have to bow out

I actually have to bow out because I have to take care of my little one. But this is an honest question. Do we know that BPS is spending more money than other districts? Where is that assumption coming from?


Yes - and no

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Hard to get apples to apples but here's a sampling (as reported on state websites for the 2012-2013 school years - includes operating, external funds and capital expenditures):

Didn't do Cambridge - but their spending is off the charts due to a large tax base and a very small percent of the population in public schools - they are number one by a longshot

Some other local communities:

Boston $17,850
Newton $15,000
Brookline $15,600
Quincy $13,000

Based on an analysis I did a few years ago of large communities in Mass (over 50k residents) Boston was roughly tied with Waltham for the number 2 spot. Waltham was like $50 per student ahead of Boston.

If you look at this year's budget and assume 53,000 students - Boston is somewhere over $21k per student - or about 15% ahead of where we were year before last ($973 mm operating, $115 mm external funds, $55 mm capital (estimate based on average of 2013/2014, data not yet available)). That's a pretty healthy increase over 2 years - my guess is few communities could keep up with that.


Full Circle

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And now we are back to my inquiry about why you believe $25K should be sufficient to educate these students. I agree with you that Boston spends more per pupil than any comparably sized town except for Cambridge. However, considering the demographic differences between Boston and any of the towns you list (Brookline etc) that really isn't a comparison of apples to apples. In fact, the most apples to apples comparison is probably Boston and Cambridge based on their similar demographics. If that is the case, then Boston is spending the correct amount, if not too little. So, again, why do you believe that $25K is too much?


OK - here are the poor towns

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Lynn and New Bedford - $11k
Lawrence and Worcester - $13k
Fall River - $15k

Springfield was high due to substantial capital expenses that year - and Boston spent relatively little - so they were about $19k. In more normal times we are about $1k-2k ahead of them.

Tuition at Park Street School (one of the most elite in Boston) for Pre-K and elementary runs between $15k and $21k. And they have to pay for real estate.

Is $25k enough, too much, too little? who knows. It's apparently about what we can afford.

Except for Cambridge - it also appears to be among the highest not just in the US - but probably in the world. Very few communities anywhere could ever afford to spend that kind of money. So my answer is - is more than most of the rest of the world not enough? No? Then why?


Speaking of apples to apples

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Unless I'm misreading your post, I don't think those figures of $17,850 and $21,000 are calculated using even remotely similar methodologies. If you're looking at data from the DESE web site for the former, I'm guessing that you're including about 10,000 students who aren't in BPS, but who are the responsibility of the city to educate. I'd be careful that the spending figures that you're using for the FY15 budget include the same costs as are calculated in the DESE reports, too. Also, BPS is projecting enrollment at 56,548, not 53,000.

I'd feel more comfortable with that 15% figure if I had more confidence that the two amounts you are comparing are actually measuring the same thing.


No oranges

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The state reports a total expense of $984 million (total of operating/external and capital) in 2013 for about 55k students (capital expense was exceptionally low that year). 984/55 = $17.9k

For 2014 it's $975 mm in operating, $115mm in external and I estimated $55 mm for capital with 53000 students.

That's $1145/53 = $21.6 million.

You are right the 15% figure was wrong. It's 20% more than 2 years ago.


Still Oranges

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This still does not address the issue of the differences in demographics, why Cambridge shouldn't be used as the benchmark, and why $25K is too much. I can't help but think that you are avoiding addressing my question directly and, instead, you are looking for opportunities to make it appear as if you are addressing my question by providing more figures about what categories the money fall into, rather than why the amount of money is too much to begin with. I do appreciate the argument that the City has increased the budget over time, and that to increase spending in one area we will either have to raise taxes or cut costs elsewhere. I would just like to understand, considering your affinity for data, why you think that that amount we spend per pupil is to much to begin with. Or do you just come from the philisophical camp that government is always too big and spending should be cut to reduce its size regardless?

How many angels can dance on the end of a pin?

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1) Cambridge can't be the benchmark because only the unique demographics allow Cambridge to be Cambridge. It's like saying I could be an NBA center at 5' 8" if only I could learn how to jump higher. It's not in the realm of possibility for mortals to do that nor can any other city but Cambridge do what they do. Is it well spent? According to an article a few years ago students in Somerville with similar demographics outperformed Cambridge on the MCAS with half the budget. Don't know if that's still true - except for no city could spend like Cambridge unless they fired everyone but the teachers. In any rational discussion of budgets you have to eliminate Cambridge - it's an extraordinary case - and possibly a case for why throwing money at a problem will make you feel good, but still won't fix the problem

2) Yes - Boston has issues with poverty etc. - but in reality they are not that bad from a cost perspective. Our severely disabled kids (about 1%) is probably standard across all demographics including Newton, Brookline and others. After that mostly we have ELL (about 1/3 of students) and SPED (I think about half of students). I think we allocate about $3000-$4000 per student to those needs. Compared to any other disadvantaged large community in Mass we spend 20-50% more per student - and most of those communities are FAR worse off than Boston. We do get marginally better performance - they are mostly in the bottom 5% on statewide HS exams - Boston is usually in the bottom 10% - but remember that includes the exam schools and NOT kids who drop out - so a bit skewed.

3) Why is $25k too much? That's not even the argument. It's that it's at least sufficient - it may be too much, but we certainly don't need more. When adjusted for grade level it's probably very close to what it costs to go to some of the elite private schools in town (say $15k for kindergarten at Park Street up to $40k for high school at Milton Academy). To hell with the charters. Why don't we just give the kids a voucher to go to Milton Academy? If we sold off the school buildings and used that money as an endowment we could probably afford the $40k it costs to go there and have money left over.

Obviously a little sarcastic but if you are seriously making the argument that we should spend more than $25k per kid in 2014/2015 to send kids to public school you should find another planet to live on because you couldn't even find a country you could move to that would satisfy those needs - maybe Switzerland?

Any idea where I can read that?

I'm very interested in the CPS district given how much money they have, but their reputation is still pretty awful. I'd like to read the article comparing them and Somerville (which also has a pretty bad rep)


The article was more about how the districts responded to the MCAS than a referrendum on the education ability. I still wonder how Cambridge schools can be so bad when so much money is poured into them.

You have to assemble it

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Go to the city and scroll to the education number here in the state's city profile database:


Then get the student population here in the DOE's database:


Note - the budget numbers in the first report appear to be updated through 2013 - which I believe is a fiscal year. To match that you need student populations for 2012-13.


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Thanks for the links. I wish I had more information about how the education number in the first report was calculated. Boston is responsible for the education costs of many students who aren't enrolled in BPS, and I think there's a good chance that the number in that top report includes the costs for all of those students. The total enrollment figure that the state uses to calculate chapter 70 funding for Boston has been increasing recently even as BPS enrollment has been declining. I would be surprised if a state report was based on BPS enrollment only, rather than the total number of students for whom Boston pays educational costs. In other words, I think you may be choosing numerators and denominators that are measuring different populations and seeing some skew as Boston's out-of-district expenditures increase.

Every state report I've ever seen that lists both total budget figures and total enrollment shows very different trends from what you're suggesting. For example, the spreadsheet linked at the top of this page lists Boston's per-pupil total expenditures as $16,902, $17,283, and $17,598 for fiscal years 2011-2013, an increase of about 4% over a two year span. Coming back to the difference between in- and out-of-district costs, it's interesting to note that using that report, from FY11-FY13 Boston's out-of-district enrollment went up about 15% and yet out-of-district costs went up almost 28%, resulting in a per-pupil increase of about 11%. Meanwhile, in-district per-pupil expenditures went up just about 1% from FY11-FY13.

Those numbers don't match

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Not even close to what the city's numbers have in their budgets - they show about $250 million per year in additional expenditures. Not sure where these come from but they are accounting for something very different from the city's numbers.

The state may have different things they are looking at - if you look at the following pages - this is generally where I get my numbers from:

cityofboston.gov/budget (esp. education cabinet)

google: BPS proposed 2015 budget - and link to the proposed March 4th docs which match to the penny what's been reported in the papers - and here

also DOE profiles (which may be a link to where you got these numbers - but they don't jive with anything else I've seen).

For other towns I google: cities and towns profiles Massachusetts and click on the appropriate link.

One item I may not be counting is METCO - there is a line item for contracted ed. services which could be it - but seems way to small at $26 mm to fund the 3000 or so kids in the program.

Using district profiles

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As I said above, if you're going to use district profiles for enrollment figures, make sure your budget figures only account for students in that district. Boston sends lots of students to lots of public school districts (including charter schools) and is responsible for the cost. I linked to the report I did because it was a single report that listed both enrollment and spending figures, removing any possibility of an error of this kind.

I'll be happy to take a closer look at how well the figures in the report I linked to can be reconciled with the city budget when I'm on a computer and not my phone. I'd be interested in seeing whether you can figure out whether the per-pupil figures you used are using spending and enrollment numbers that reflect the same set of students.

Charters not in the school budget

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The fee for charters is in state assessments - along with MBTA and a few other things.

Again - possible Metco is in there somewhere -but I find no direct reference and $8k per kid sounds way too low to be our payment to other districts if it's the one large category that says " Contracted ed. Costs". I think we only have to pay tuition - but still sounds way too cheap. I'm guessing again - we funnel this up in state assessments and they reimburse the respective districts (the state apparently pays for many other Metco costs like transporation etc.)

Last year's reported enrollment was 54,300 - estimating 53k may be a little low - but probably a rounding error with several new charters opening in the fall.


My last post in this thread

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OK, I looked up the numbers. The reports we cite must be differing in the way that they account for charter schools, as you had suggested. I still think the report I pointed to may be interesting, but I'll switch over to your numbers for simplicity. The report I listed only goes through FY13 anyway.

As for the actual city expenditures, you can see back to FY12 in the FY15 budget, so I only looked at the four budgets from FY12-FY15 just so I only had to look at one document. Looking at general + external + capital expenditures for BPS using those city budget figures, I'm seeing a 3 year increase from $1.04B to $1.15B (note that the general + external budget for FY12 was right around a billion dollars, already higher than the $984M you cited for FY13). Using the DOE web site, it looks like in FY12 enrollment was right around 55K, for per-pupil spending of around $18.9K.

On enrollment, BPS and the Globe both report that attendance was 56,735 as of December 2013. BPS is projecting 57,332 for next year, which may or may not be accurate, but is a fair amount higher than your 53,000 in any case.

So, while you're projecting that FY15 will be $975M + $115M + $55M = $1.145B, which for 53K students is $21.6K per pupil, Boston is projecting $975M + $113M + $62M = $1.15B, which for 57K students is just a bit over $20K per pupil, a 3 year increase of 6.7%. That's quite a bit less galling looking than a 2 year increase of 20%, I'd say, even though the city is projecting a bigger total budget than you are!

If we split the difference between your enrollment projection and BPS's, we'll be back at 55K students, a per-pupil cost of $20.9K, and a 3 year increase of 10.6%. If we use your enrollment projection of 53K, we have a per-pupil cost of $21.6M, or a 3 year increase of 14.8%. To get to a 20% increase over 3 years, never mind the 20% increase over 2 years you cited above, enrollment would have to drop below 51,000, which I think we can both agree is a massive underestimate for enrollment.

The bottom line is that, yes, the budget is going up some. You threw out some pretty big sounding numbers before, and maybe you'll agree that my adjustments make those numbers seem a little less crazy.

You've made it quite clear that you don't think funding is the issue, and I don't completely disagree with that. As I've said in other threads, though, I think there are other factors in play that make the simple process of doing the long division and looking at per-pupil spending a little too simple.

To get back to the original point of the bake sale (remember the bake sale? it's a thread about the bake sale), it was just a way of making a lighthearted statement about the budget. Bottom line, we've been told that there are shortfalls in our school budgets. Without even getting into the reasons for those shortfalls, we realized early on that as parents we don't have much direct power to do anything about them - we need BPS, the city, and the state to somehow figure out how to keep cuts from happening in our schools, so we've been doing our best to be in touch with all three. Putting on a farce of a bake sale was just theater, a way of showing BPS and politicians that we are depending on them, because of course we can't bake sale our way out of this problem. If resolving the shortfall means finding more revenue, great. If it means some amazing cost savings that doesn't result in service cuts, even better. If it means someone unveils some huge embezzlement scheme, cool, maybe we can make a movie out of that. In any case, I don't see why people have to get all bent out of shape about it.

If you've read this far, thanks for making me take a closer look at the numbers, and good night.

Not even going to go there

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If you think the federal government has piles of cash sitting around (that's not already on the federal reserve's overstuffed balance sheet), call up Elizabeth Warren and ask her why she isn't sending more our way.

Not sure who this Harry Stein is, but based on what he's written - sounds like he went to one of those underfunded math classes.



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I'm not going to let you hijack the thread.

If there's all this money in Washington, dial up your superhero and tell her to ship some up here.

Stop trolling

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Call your sugar mommy in DC and tell her to get to work sending some of that education and HHS pork our way.

Oh wait - there isn't any pork left, your social security and medicare ate it -like they are eating the rest of the budget. Apparently you and Mr. Stein are the last ones on that notification list.

Some people

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don't seem to get the joke.



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Right over the ole noggin.

$25,000 each- meh.

Still not nearly as much as it costs to house an inmate, which is apparently $47,102 a year in Massachusetts. I can't think of anything more worth spending public dollars on than education, but then again, I do have kids.


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(A friend of mine was involved with this)

Not too bad.

I'd be happy with pulling in $1250 for some local schools. Not as happy with ten times that, but still happy.

As usual

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lots of incorrect assumptions being made in the comments here.



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All this talk makes me glad I'll never have (or want) kids.. what a cluster fuck.

what bothers me the most

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is that a lot of the most vocal pro-charter people live out in the burbs and/or don't even have kids in school. I live in the city, and people in my neighborhood generally view charters as a last resort - none of us really want to send our kids to an MCAS factory where we have no influence over school culture - but you also don't want to send your kid to a school where too many of their peers are really messed up and cause too many problems in the classroom. many of us can't afford private, and most of us really don't want to move way out to some suburb where you have to drive everywhere - so you hope that you get into a decent school and then weigh your options. to me I think this is more an issue with social services and helping kids deal with their problems than whatever the hell charters are supposed to do. It's all politicized - my kid isn't a statistic.


Or not

Our kid went to a Parkway K-5 and is now at a charter. It's not an MCAS factory but it is very academics focused.

No idea what you mean by school culture - are you referring to nonsense that BPS passes down to the SSC meetings? There's not much of a cultural difference other than kids have to adhere to behavior policies and I guess the Brooke is less diverse, although that's not saying much really.

What's the big thing you have achieved in terms of school culture at a BPS school as a parent?

Your kid is actually a statistic wherever they go, but hey it sounded meaningful, right?

How much BPS $$ is going to new/additional testing?

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I haven't been able to get a solid answer on how much money BPS will spend on the new trial of PARCC tests which may replace MCAS. One link (which PARCC puts out) is that it will cost $29 a student and is less than MCAS currently costs. However, the PARCC tests are online (pencil and paper for the first couple of years), so then you're talking about tech upgrades and extra training. Plus, I thought that PARCC tests were going to be for more grades than MCAS.

What I'm more worried about is how much time does this take away from the classroom for test prepping and taking. My kid is just in K1 at BPS (we're very happy with her school and teachers), but I hated hearing about how quiet they had to be while "the big kids" were taking MCAS for what felt like over a week.


How much does it cost to educate a student?

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The discussion seems to revolve around whether $25,000 per student is enough. Any suggestions as to what is enough?

Because I pay taxes to live in Boston, and am affected by the overall education and socialization of younger people, I have some skin in the game. But I don't have children and so know little about what is happening in Boston's schools.

The writer who mentioned that there is no librarian or other staff providing support services provided some indication of what is lacking. Can anyone address other ways that schools are lacking? In addition, outside of test scores, can anyone provide less abstract and more concrete descriptions of how public schools are insufficient?

Part of my question is based on the fact that for the past 30 years that I can identify the refrain concerning public schools is that they are at best doing a poor job and at worst are failing. If urban public schools have done a poor job of educating young people, and the causes can not be identified and resolved, then we should accept the situation or reject it entirely. Accepting the situation might mean providing only nominal funding if greater funding does not increase how well students are educated. Or conclude that urban public education is inherently flawed, should be disbanded and replaced with an entirely different model.

I realize however that public education is a third rail at a local level. So maybe it will never better than it is.

My final answer (for $60 MILLION :-))

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Had a long explanation on my numbers v. yours - but we can go round and round on what numbers to use and we'll both be right and both be wrong. What either of our numbers don't change is the conclusion on the three areas BPS says they are being shortchanged:

1) The additional $24 million in the operating budget they claim they need for level funding is probably mostly accounted for by a smaller student population, their "predictions" notwithstanding (they were way off last year and I find it dubious that enrollment will go UP by 600 students when there are several new charters opening that will siphon off hundreds of students). In fact I'm guessing "level funding" means they have to account for educating these mysterious extra students plus all the hundreds that are going to head to charters in the fall. They got a 4% increase which is more than almost any other department except maybe public safety (haven't looked). Hey, many of us make budgets and if we can get people to buy into the fact we have more to do than we actually have to do - that's part of the game. A few of us are onto them though (note - I find it interesting they have been claiming that their student population has been steady around 57,000 for several years while even the lower numbers they report to the state have declined by about 2%. By their own admission they didn't get the enrollment expected last year and net of the charters they are still expecting more students. where are these 1000 or so kids hiding????).

2) The $10 million or so in state funding they say they are being shorted is apparently false. I think they are referring to Ch. 70 funding which according to the state budget released yesterday is going up by $1-2 million. Not huge - but not a $10 mm cut either. End of the day still irrelevant because the city throws it in the big hopper and doles out what they can to the schools - usually about 35% of the budget.

Here for 2015 proposed: http://www.mass.gov/bb/h1/fy15h1/os_15/h32.htm

Here for 2014 budgeted: http://www.mass.gov/bb/gaa/fy2014/os_14/h3.htm

3) The city has known for years that much of the federal funding they were getting was temporary. Arguing this is a $20 million cut is beyond disingenuous or simply poor planning.

Bottom, bottom line - almost any district in the country would salivate to have the money BPS has, even with a need to educate inner city kids. We are wealthy compared to wealthy communities. Compared to other US cities, we are Bill Gates, Carlos Slim and Warren Buffett rolled into one.