BPS was paying some workers off the books with money from funds meant for student activities

The Globe reports on payments for extra work not reported to the IRS.

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Fire the school dept

I hate to call for someone's job, but this is embezzlement. They barely sent my kids on field trips and they are IN BOSTON.

The finance dept of the schools has been terrible for years, literally losing millions of dollars in grant money, just not knowing what happened to it.

Would like to hear from (noted teacher suck up apologist reporter) jimmy vaznis, who got the money, who gave it to them what did they do with it, how many field trips were not taken, how much money etc.

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Voting closed 23

does the globe have an editor

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I read the Globe article before UH comments, and the deference to authority, and the ambiguity, were annoying. It's like someone regurgitated a press release. Such-and-such is not fact, it's someone's assertion -- whose? And who denied a request for this-and-that? It's not "the city", it's someone who should be held accountable for refusing.

I assumed the reporter was an intern, and their mentor and the editor were away for the holiday.

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Voting closed 10

BPS = new Catholic Church

Yes. Did somebody actually tell him that we are training the administrators? Training them what, not to steal? The BPS gets away with the same story the Catholic Church used to. We will pray for guidance, the little boys and girls can't go on field trips, there's no money, the mcas, boo hoo.

If this was Equifax we'd hear calls for heads to roll. But since it's BPS the globe has no frame of reference unless it's Simon Legree poking Sidney Poitier with a flag pole.

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Voting closed 8

Don't hold your breath

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Vaznis has apparently been paid for years to simply rewrite press releases to make it look like the Globe actually asked questions and uncovered information.

He's the one that keeps calling $50 million hikes in the school budget "cuts".

I guess that sells papers. Oh, wait....

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Voting closed 12

BPS embezzling money

Vaznis is the only Globe reporter who does not just parrot the party line on BPS issues. He does report more than one side of the story, and does keep his personal opinions to himself.

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Voting closed 18

Wait a moment

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Aren't you the one who wants to run the schools like a business?

This is how businesses run. Hurrrrr.

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Voting closed 10

Businesses run

By closing down franchise locations that are persistently half-empty.

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Voting closed 11

Business

Some businesses operate at a loss because they want to maintain a presence in a market or because the cost of walking away from an investment is higher then operating at a moderate loss.

See, it's foolish to make business analogies when it comes to public services like education. Even private and religious schools often run "at a loss" and are subsidized by donations or larger institution.

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Voting closed 10

I think you're smarter than

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I think you're smarter than this stevil. The total budget has increased because costs go up, but many individual schools had budget cuts (they received less money in 2017 then in 2016) or teachers were cut from the school or programs were cut. I think you know this, but the simpler fact that the total budget increased fits your agenda better.

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Voting closed 9

There's lies, damned lies, and numbers

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Stevil is technically right. The other side would be best served to say something like "the budget has not been keeping pace with increases in costs, leading to cuts.," but they are lazy, so they say the budget has been cut. The likes of me, who would be sympathetic to the statement I gave, are turned off when it is discovered that in fact the BPS budget has gone up about 3.5% a year in the past 4 years. 3.5% is a decent level of increase. If there are reasons why 3.5% doesn't help situations, perhaps that should be a topic of discussion.

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Voting closed 45

Agreed

I guess it's just easier for the excitable folks who dominate BPS twitter (jshore, cabbage, etc...) discussions to scream about budget cuts vs. try to have any discussions about the spiraling costs of BPS and if there's anything constructive to be done about them.

I believe that both more money is needed AND we need to edit where the money is going within BPS. It's possible and likely that the schools are both underfunded and inefficiently run. Yet any discussion along those lines devolves into accusations of being a Koch puppet by some people.

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Voting closed 15

the top line does not tell the whole story.

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Early in the budget process the mayor finds out the same services the schools provided last year will cost $42m more this year so he asks his superintendent and BPS finance people to cut $42m in spending and they figure out what to cut and principals get less money and they cut positions or programs, $42m worth.

The teachers contract call for a 3% pay increase and when it's all said and done the budget is up 3%. You can say BPS didn't cut $42m in spending but that would be false.

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Voting closed 18

Really? Then please explain...

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How do the teachers get their increases year after year, as does everyone else in the school system benefits almost never get cut (once, to my knowledge, after the financial crisis) and we've added about 10% staff while the number of students has dropped by 10%.

How does any of that add up to a cut? Why would you budget the same services for fewer students, not year after year, hut decade after decade? Where do they teach that kind of math?

Add it all up and we spend almost $30k per student. We could close the schools, send all the kids to private school and eventually (after all the retiree obligations are met) put tens or hundreds of millions a year in the city's pocket.

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Voting closed 11

I'll say it

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The BPS, in your theoretical, did not cut $42 million. They neither increased nor decreased the budget.

I believe it would be false to say they are "level funded," since that phrase (and I could be wrong here) assumes everything functions exactly the same way it did the year before.

Of course, perhaps the BTU should be lowering their wage demands. I mean, if they care about employees as a unit, creating a fiscal situation where costs rise greater than means through large wage increases would be a bad thing.

EDIT- I looked it up. The theoretical is a level funded budget. A "maintenance budget" is when the budget is increase only to cover inflation.

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Voting closed 17

Look into the 40

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Look into the 40 administrative positions created at the school department and Tommy Chang. These positions are not needed and are filled with two and three people doing the same job. Cutting these position would save around 5 million dollars which could be used on the students education.

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Voting closed 15

Alternate theory

I'd guess Chang hired those people because they were good candidates who might be effective. I'd guess the real issue is that the same people who failed the kids at Madison Park, Boston English, Greater Egleston, etc... are still wandering around, doing nothing and making $100k+ per year. No-one ever gets fired in the BPS administration for failing at their jobs. I know teachers are hard to terminate and I'm fine with that mostly but administrations who make more money should be way easier to jettison.

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Voting closed 12

But the top line kind of does tell the whole story

There is more money in the system. Again, that is not my issue - contracts and compensation increase, inflation causes other costs to rise, etc... of course the budget wouldn't be flat. My issue is that we can never seem to have a conversation about HOW the district uses the ever increasing funding. I just want to open air discussions by our political leaders about what's driving costs. It's like the T - this is a vital service which could be both better run and better funded. But nothing is reformed so ever more money is simply thrown at problems which aren't being solved.

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Voting closed 17

So 'increasing costs' are

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So 'increasing costs' are just there, like the fabric of the universe? I thought keeping a budget meant taking into account increasing costs.

"How can I spend more money if you won't give me more?"

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Voting closed 12

Well, not quite

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A budget, in theory, exists to make sure whoever the budget is for, be it a person, family, business, or government, spends within their means. While means cannot be guaranteed, they should be the basis of a budget. In your theory of budgets, the easy thing is to just push increased costs on the taxpayer, but how would that work with your personal budget. Say you got a 3.5% pay increase this year, but health insurance premiums rose 8%, the T went up 5%, and childcare went up 6%. How do you deal with that? Do you say that your boss cut your salary? No, you gripe that your increased pay is not keeping up with your costs and hopefully when you go to the boss to negotiate salary the following year they have the funds to make the next increase a true reflection of the cost of living. If they don't have the money, they don't have the money, so you make due.

If BPS spending is increasing at greater than the overall cost of living, that's the conversation we should be having. But pretending that an increase is a cut is showing a lack of understanding of mathematics.

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Voting closed 10

Actually incorrect

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The budget has increased continuously for decades.

Headcount haa also increased by hundreds.

Student teacher ratios have generally decreaaed or remained the same for years

All while student population has decreased.

We can argue forever over what positions stay/go and what schools get how much money but it's pretty moronic to argue that resources shouldn't move when student population/need shifts.

Systemwide there has been massive expansion at a time of shrinking population. Anyone arguing Vaznis is a good reporter needs to seriously improve their critical reading skills.

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Voting closed 7

Where have you been?

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You haven't been on a media tour for that..that.. you know, that movie. have you?

And what took you so long to cancel the Globe? talk about clowns!

Either way, welcome back.

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Voting closed 14

It's going to take a federal

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It's going to take a federal investigation to clean up BPS. It's an unaccountable cesspool of patronage and fraud. Remember the little scheme where BPS was paying top dollar for expired frozen food from distribution centers which would otherwise have been thrown away as unsellable? You know somebody arranged that for a kickback to dump
worthless merchandise.

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It'll be a great day

When the Navy has to hold a bake sale to buy a battleship, and the principal's under the table slush fund is full of untraceable bills.

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Voting closed 11

Budget???

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Would love to see the worlds greatest university's business school evaluate the cost versus benefit of a Boston Pubic Schools diploma.
Twelve plus years at tens of thousands of dollars per year for a diploma that is essentially meaningless...
Not to mention all those feelgood/do nothing programs that only line the pockets of the unemployable friends and relatives of our rulers...

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Voting closed 11

You best check yourself, G

I thumbs-upped this post, and not solely because of my years at BLS and general respect for the curriculum.

I like the merit-based, elevated stance from where the truth comes from. It is refreshing to see victors rather than victims around here every now and again.

93 percent of the system still sucks out loud.

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Voting closed 16

Cape Coddity

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You don't even live in Boston.

It isn't 1973, either when "sucks out loud" = "omg, we have to go to school with THOSE people and give them a fair share of the $$$!". NO FAIR

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Voting closed 14

Nope

omg, we have to go to school with THOSE people

Not at BLS. They have this test thing....

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Voting closed 20

Attention Deficit Disorder?

It seems to me that the issue of paying employees “off the books” is better considered by first finding out who, what, when, how and why this happened.

Starting the discussion off by declaring it a crime (embezzlement), citing the loss of field trips, criticizing the Globe’s reporting, equaling the issue to the sexual abuse of children buy clergy, questioning the need or justification of the BPS budget, complaining about teachers’ pay rates, the re-election of incumbent politicians, or challenging the value of BPS high school diplomas are issues that well could warrant examination.

The problem, as I see it, has some basic facts that ought to be established first:

1 - who knew about this practice and for how long?

2. who concealed it (particularly in light of the recent election)?

3 - who was involved (approved and ignored the practice)?

4 - how long has it been going on?

5 - what is the actual amount of $’s involved?

6 - what laws or regulations were violated?

7 - who are the recipients of these payments (and did they report it as income?

I am certain there are other basic issues that I have not identified. But again, before jumping to conclusions, we need know the basic facts. Establishing corrective actions certainly is called for, before we really ought to know what exactly we are dealing with first. We should demand a true public airing of the facts.

My fear is that when someone or a group of people by-pass accountability it maybe indicative of a more pervasive culture. I suspect if a willingness exists to conceal fiscal accountability, there may well be other practices taking place that also require intervention.

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Voting closed 5

Agree with all of this

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In particular, I am curious as to what the amount of money at issue is. The fact that the Globe article refers to "thousands" of dollars makes me wonder if it is $2,000-$9,999.

If a school paid a couple of teachers a couple thousand bucks for coaching duties but failed to issue them W-2s, that ought to be cleaned up, but it's not really a federal case.

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Voting closed 9

Actually it is kind of a federal case

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But not really that big a deal. Heard Marty Walsh speak at the BPL main branch with Jim and Margery and he addressed this. Basically it sounds like people were paid money that they deserved - no problem there. Income taxes are their own personal responsibility to pay - so the city has no issue. Apparently payroll taxes (social security and medicare) weren't withheld so that's what makes it a "federal case". Even the mayor admitted this was more than a bookkeeping error - but probably not nefarious. Some taxes, interest and penalties are owed and we can move on and the mayor said they are looking at how to do the payroll accounting for these funds going forward (not easy to integrate it to BPS because it's outside money or something).

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Voting closed 8