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Talk about increased Boston school funding masks fact that many schools face budget cut

Kristin Johnson runs the numbers on the proposed BPS budget for the coming school year, finds that "49 schools are losing a total of $11.47 million [in funding]" under a BPS budget released earlier this month.

The cuts are related in part to declining enrollment at the schools, but they also mean some schools would lose positions - such as librarians - that threaten their accreditation and possibly accelerate their downward spirals, she writes.

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Comments

Do schools really need a library?

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Yes.

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I think that is very much dependent on the size of the school TBH. Similarly, can a position like gym teacher be a multi school gig? If we can use one teacher (same amount of hours) to say work at one school M-W and another smaller school T-F, is that done?

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Yes. It's extremely valuable to get kids hooked on reading for lifelong learning and to develop good English language skills and achieve good scores on English Language Arts tests.

Many times school libraries include computers attached to the internet. Librarians can help students learn about the quality of sources they find searching for information and help them develop computer skills. It is especially important for kids who don't have them at home

BPS has two full time employees who are developing a plan to be rolled out over 3 or 4 years to have libraries or access to in every school. The school committee seems agree there is value in it.

The committee has also identified an institutional conflict in reaching this goal, which is that principals have to manage their budgets and often make decisions about what to cut. It seems libraries and librarians are cut, as are nurses before other things like teachers. So the system by which we fund schools-- SWF-- plus school budget autonomy when met with insufficient funding cuts services many parents wants for their kids, such as libraries, nurses, enrichment, advanced work study, AP, middle school science, etc.

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We're lucky to have parents who study Boston Schools budget proposal and share their assessment with all the people who have a stake in good public schools, which we all do whether you know it or not.

Kamla Harris:

Children who drop out of school are far more likely to wind up poor and become victims or perpetrators of crime than their peers.

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but I do think there is a difference between a K-5 environment and say K-8 or above, right? My younger child is learning how to read this year and of course books are a huge part of that, but within his kindergarten more than going to a school library (which I don't think his school has). I think in Roslindale some K-5s have a library (Conley, probably the Haley) and some don't (Bates and maybe the Mozart).

I don't know if you are familiar with Rosi schools but if you want to add a library you are going to have to remove something else, like class space or art/science space, etc...

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They used to have a very nice library, but enrollment pressures took that space and converted it to a class room. It's interesting that they lost the library due to increased enrollment, while other schools are losing them due to decreased enrolment. Balancing enrollment shifts is an important issue, but libraries shouldn't be part of that calculus.

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Many specialist positions (PE, Music, Art) and related service providers (OT, PT, Vision, Speech, APE) already go between multiple schools depending on school size. This has been standard for years.
The issue around librarians at the high school level and accreditation is the requirement of a staffed library accessible before, during and after school. It's not a maybe, but a must. As for students in Boston, many of mine do not have access to the internet at home, or computers/tablets to complete their homework. For kids in these circumstances, the ability to use the library during study or before/after school is an equity issue and a necessity to advance in school.
Here is a snippet of the accreditation standards;
Library/media services are integrated into curriculum and instructional practices and have an adequate number of certified/licensed personnel and support staff who:
• are actively engaged in the implementation of the school's curriculum
• provide a wide range of materials, technologies, and other information services in
support of the school's curriculum
• ensure that the facility is available and staffed for students and teachers before, during, and after school
• are responsive to students' interests and needs in order to support independent learning
• conduct ongoing assessment using relevant data, including feedback from the school community, to improve services and ensure each student achieves the school’s 21st century learning expectations.

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Conley and Bates hare a PE teacher, for example. I think it's probably also common with music teachers, and maybe some other types of specialists.

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Ebenezer Scrooge? Or is it just other people's kids that you'd prefer remain undereducated and unemployable?

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Isn't that the crux of all this? If we offer school choice, what to do with 'bad' schools that are under-attended. They are inefficient and use more resources than fully attended schools that are, presumably, more appealing to families. Seems like any attempt to address this issue turns into accusations of budget cuts but in the end but BPS has to make some hard choices to offer the best education to the most kids, right? Weighted funding was a big improvement but there are certain fixed operational costs than exist regardless of headcount.

I assume she just blamed the charters for everything as per usual.

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Every school in Allston/Brighton Except for the pilot academies lost funding?

Every Single One? More than $2 Million leaving with just Brighton High and Jackson Mann alone?

I suspect there will be some grumpy conversations at the Park BBQs this year.

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So raise property taxes and spend more. Right?

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If you do, you'll have the answer to your question.

If you don't, well, no, the city can't just raise property taxes like that. Voters would have to approve an override, which has never happened in Boston. What we do have to hope is that the current construction bubble doesn't burst anytime soon, because it's new tax revenue from all that new construction that's letting the city increase the school budget, give police a raise, etc.

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The cuts are related in part to declining enrollment at the schools

Close schools. This is getting ridiculous (including some of the inflammatory writing - evisceration? Really - because as student population shrinks they moved a few people to other schools. That's not "evisceration". That's common sense)

Last year they talked about the "evisceration" of the schools and it was all a hoax to help the battle against charter expansion. In the end, there was no "evisceration". They increased the budget about the same as this year and added many teachers and staff across the system.

Here's the way they control the message

2016 - Expand charters on the ballot?- rant and rave about "evisceration" and "schoolmageddon" - even though it was never happening
2017 - Election year? - all is good - plenty of money for everyone
2018 - Mayor is good for 4 more years? - expect 5-10 school closings next year and the year after - come 2021 - school closing problem will be magically "fixed" with magic money. Anybody wanna give odds?

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First off, nobody is begging for more libraries. Why should we open libraries in schools when the majority of them have access to a Boston Public Library in their neighborhood or, in some circumstances, the same BUILDING!?

Second, if enrollment is dropping why should we still keep the same level of staffing in that building? Isn't it the right thing to reduce a school's budget according to the number of students they are losing? Sounds like this is someone on the wrong end of that budget cut. $11 million spread out across 47 schools and contained in a $1+ billion budget is not something to be concerned with.

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But closing existing ones.

I'm curious, though, which schools share facilities with BPL branches (branches that are open to the general public; technically, the Boston Latin library doubles as a BPL branch, but it's only open to students).

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Schools with libraries (and a librarian) are much better off than schools who do not. Yes, Boston has fantastic public libraries, and lots of them. Taking a classroom to visit one of those libraries means a field trip, not a stroll through the halls.

Anyone interested in the state of libraries in our schools should read this report, unanimously approved by the school committee last fall:
2017-2021 Boston Public School Library Services Strategic Plan https://bpslibraries.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/boston-public-schools-l...

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The Grove Hall library and the Jeremiah Burke school are right next to each other.

That's the only one I can think of, though.

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Burke

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I wonder if the fact that over 1,400 teachers are being paid to work 3/4 of a year while getting paid over $100k has anything to do with programs getting cut from the schools?

http://www.bostonherald.com/news/local_coverage/2017/02/boston_teachers_...

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For anyone actually interested on learning how things work with district budgeting, budget hearings can be very interesting and you can even watch them streaming online if you arent't the sort to leave the house.
http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/Page/6356

There's also a fair amount of budget information publicly available online, which may lack some nuance and people often misreprent, but still pretty great.

I picked BPS budget for a project I did, and this was all really helpful.

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