Walsh wants to add $15 million to school budget for guaranteed pre-K seats for all Boston kids

Mayor Walsh said today he'll be adding $15 million to the BPS budget for the coming year to guaranteed a pre-K seat for every four-year-old in Boston.

The money will pay for enough teachers, supplies and equipment to add 750 more pre-K seats in BPS, which Walsh says is enough to ensure no child is turned away from K-1 programs.



Free tagging: 



cheap babysitting

15 million/750 students is just $20,000 per kid let.
Funny, because Daddy also spends 15 big ones a year on babysitting David Price.



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Can someone make this ahole go away? I would say masshole but they clearly live in NH and probably spend a lot of time posting under different accounts about the value of space savers and such.


Good idea

Pre-K is good for the child's development and the parent's ability to work. Things like this will help more people than just adding a few more units of "affordable" housing.


I've been there and done all

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I've been there and done all that. In my opinion I think we're taking kids to school too young. Sure, there's all this competition now a days, etc...
Mine didn't go until Kindergarten.

I know parents have to work, but what kind of life is it for a child to be up and out first thing in the morning?..

Don't get me wrong, I was a single parent who relied on full day kindergarten, I watch my neighbors fill their car up at 6:30am, kids and all as they head out to work. Kids don't know the difference, I suppose.

Long days out of the home for some of these babies.


I'm too lazy to find links

But there's a great deal of researching showing the benefit of early schooling.

Each child & family is different. Parents are not required to send kids to pre-K if they feel they have a better plan.


Works great for us

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My daughter is in K1. Her school is 9:15am - 4pm. She sleeps until 7:30am most mornings. It’s a long day but so is daycare. The kids seems to handle it well. Teachers structure the day well with ample snacks and down time. She actually got restless over Feb vacation and wanted her school day.
I watch neighbors pile kids in the car before my kid wakes up to drive them to daycare, then return home after 6:30pm. That’s a long day and they only get daycare level education.
In K1 my daughter gets science, technology, art, music, and will be reading when she starts K2 / Kindergarten. Nearly full day coverage while we work and a real year of education from real teachers is great.


Plenty of seats

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According to the state website, the number of Pre-k kids actually went down last year already and unless every single family with pre-k kids opts for BPS, it's highly unlikely we'll ever have enrollment much above where it is now for the foreseeable future (class cohorts are running about 3700 kids per grade and pre-k enrollment is under 3k)

One other benefit to Pre-k kids - they are REALLY low economic burden on the system - but when you calculate cost per student it keeps the numbers down. It a) hides how much we are really spending on the system per capita and b) by keeping the average cost per kid down, it reduces what you have to pay to the charter schools. (I love how they budget the pre-k kids at $20k per student - really - are you teaching them chemistry and computer programming?)

This is a political budgeting technique. Put money in the budget for something popular (like free daycare). You don't use it there - but then you can use it during the year on something less popular - like funding underfunded retirement benefits. Nobody is the wiser by the time the annual audits come out about 18 months later showing where the money really went. Menino used to do this all the time for a number of reasons - one other thing he would do is put the money in the budget, hire a bunch of nice to have positions (community liaisons, extra janitors etc.) and then lay them all off when tough times came and he needed the money for teacher raises and other more pressing needs.

However, I am looking forward to seeing the schools they build in the riverside neighborhoods to fulfill this goal (but not holding my breath):

"equitable access to free, high-quality pre-kindergarten (pre-K) for all 4-year-olds living in Boston within five years."

Maybe at the state level,

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but at the metro level, demand for K1 seats far outstrips supply. My daughter was in the K1 lottery two year ago. She got a seat at her second choice, after her first choice had literally zero available seats. (Sibling preference, dontchaknow) . Of the cohort of parents of kids the same age that I still keep in touch with, about half got seats. Of the half that didn't, about half of those still live in the city. Everyone else left for the suburbs, where there's guaranteed pre-k to go with your huge real estate tax bill. Not providing enough K1 seats is a guaranteed strategy for driving parents out of the city.

Also: how is pre-k any less expensive per capita than older kids? The student-to-teacher ratios have to be kept lower, the class sizes are capped at lower numbers, the teachers are on the same pay grade, and they all need the same physical infrastructure in a school.


I’m with you but...

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What suburb has guaranteed pre-k for free? We got a k-1 seat in BPS for my daughter but later we moved to the suburbs and none of the towns we looked at had free pre-k, and most only had half day kindergarten to boot.


Councillor Wu tweeted this week that they didn't get any of their six choices for K1 in the Roslindale. From my experience, people simply don't want to bus their 4 YO across town nor is it feasible to drive far enough to get to a school with a seat. We tried that and it sucked and wasn't great for our kid.

Wu got screwed?

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I'll be curious where Blaise ends up next year. This could be a turning point, both in her career and personally. She isn't too far from Sacred Heart. Just bringing it up.

Why only list 6 schools? I

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Why only list 6 schools? I thought the K1 list was much broader than that. I've heard of people listing over ten schools recently.

Again, how far do you want to drive/bus your 4 YO?

It's young to take a bus for sure.

In Roslindale (where Wu lives) the local options are:

Sumner, Bates, Mozart, Conley, Philbrick - all less than 1 mile.

At 1.5 miles out, there's the BTU and the Haley, then the Mattahunt nearly 2 miles away. I'd guess she'd go for the BTU as its near the major bus/T routes into the city and she's a public transport advocate.

Five schools within a mile - wow!!!

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Imagine living in Fenway, Back Bay or Beacon Hill. If you are lucky you might barely live within a mile of a single school.

I'm calling city hall later today to find out where they are building the Early Learning Centers in our neighborhoods to fulfill the mayor's promise of equitable access to quality pre-school for all Boston kids.

I'm sure they'll think it's just a belated April Fools joke.

Do some research before picking up the phone.

The Hurley is just over a mile from the Fenway and Back Bay.

K1 Demand (2018-2019)
12 open seats
100 applicants
8.2 applicants/open seat

The Eliot is under one mile to Beacon Hill.

K1 Demand (2018-2019)
54 open seats
207 applicants
3.8 applicants/open seat

But wait, you've told me there are plenty of seats for every K1 kid already and we don't need to spend more money.

So, which school should we close and sell to then replace with a school close enough to the Back Bay so your neighbors feel like they've been treated fairly?

Checking the Roslidale schools:

44 open seats
242 applicants
5.5 applicants/open seat

14 open seats
362 applicants
25.9 applicants/open seat

20 open seats
262 applicants
13.1 applicants/open seat

Conley (SPED track school)
9 open seats
344 applicants
38.2 applicants/open seat

9 open seats
322 applicants
35.8 applicants/open seat

Hmm, seems like your neighborhood has better access to K1 seats doesn't it?

Do math?

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First - yes - a mile - just barely. And as I've stated before - the only other places in Boston with worse school coverage are for tourists arriving/leaving, zoo animals and dead people.

If you live in Roslindale - you apply for 5-10 schools

If you live downtown, you apply to one or two (or zero because you aren't going to ship your 4 year old kid off to the North or South end

So of course those schools have more applications per capita.

And yes - for all those reasons and more there are fewer kids living around here.


Your theoretical kids have a better chance of getting a K1 seat than mine. And of course now you've moved your goal posts to downtown vs. Fenway, Back Bay or Beacon Hill now that the data didn't support your first statement.

You have claimed with great certainty that there are enough K1 seats but where are they? Certainly not where they are needed, as you agree based on your statement above about how people shouldn't have to ship their kids off to the North or South End. Perhaps BPS does need to budget more money to add more seats to meet the demand both in the Back Bay (LOL) and Roslindale.

To argue about school 'coverage' is the equivalent of the GOP meme where they show the desert wastes of Nevada, etc... as being huge swaths of the country that voted for Trump as evidence of his massive popularity. It's the wrong metric.


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Back Bay, Fenway and Beacon Hill ARE downtown. In addition it includes the West, North and South Ends plus Bay Village, Chinatown, Financial District, Waterfront, South Boston. These are all "downtown" neighborhoods. Physical access to these schools is slightly better in most of the other neighborhoods - i.e. - it's under a mile (and from what I hear the Eliot and Quincy are pretty good and the Hurley is improving. Blackstone is still struggling. But you still have only one or two schools to choose from in the mile radius in most of those neighborhoods - assuming you want to truck your kid to the other side of town for preschool which may or may not work for the rest of your life/commute. If you applied to EVERY school in the area, you wouldn't have 6 schools on your list - even schools that are two miles away (and in downtown Boston - two miles is a LONG way)

It's pretty obvious what they've done - just look at a map. If you did this to a predominantly minority community the ACLU would very rightly drag the city's butt into court and the city would get said butt handed to them.

LOL huh? Ever stop by the Back Bay playground after school - it's packed with preschool kids. As is the playground in Beacon Hill and the playground both neighborhoods use on the Esplanade. Sadly - as others have noted, with so few school options available, those that do want to raise kids in the city have little choice but to decamp for the burbs.

Here's a better idea - why don't you just secede from the city and set up your own school district in western Boston, or join Dedham or Milton? If your needs aren't being met by Boston - why don't you and some of the surrounding neighborhoods just venture out on your own? What is the benefit to you of being part of "Boston"?

I like Boston, you clearly don't

I've never advocated for the city to splinter - that's you. I like living in a large dynamic, diverse place - you obviously don't. As I've posted before, your take that the enormous wealth generated by the commercial district of the city only belongs to people who are in walking distance to the district is just mind-bogglingly stupid. Perhaps you'd be happier in Monaco vs. Boston.

Which K1 schools have excess seats? You say no more are needed, outside of your neighborhoods. So where are they? It's a simple question. They aren't in my neighborhood or yours.

Not just me

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Of course you don't want the city to splinter. The "enormous wealth generated by the commercial district" massively subsidizes your chosen lifestyle with convenient access to downtown when needed and few if any of the inconveniences the urbanized district causes.

Times change. The politicians, very few of whom live near us, are doing nothing for the downtown residents other than using our neighborhoods as a giant cash machine to fund programs and projects in other far flung reaches. If you are a history buff, that should sound familiar. It's exactly why rabble rousers like Sam Adams got riled up about 250 years ago around here and decided the time had come to set up a new government, independent of the old one.

As for K1 seats - you tell me. This "oversubscribed" system somehow lost 150 or so seats from 2018 to 2019. How does a system with more butts than seats shrink unless they reduced the number of seats (haven't seen any news to that effect. I follow this, but could have missed it)? The only other way for it to shrink is fewer butts, so somewhere there should be extra capacity.

Rozzie Parent

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In Roslindale (where Wu lives) the local options are:

I live in Roslindale too and went through the K1 lottery under the current assignment process couple years back. You listed 8 schools there. And there are others not too far from Roslindale like the Beethoven, Kilmer, Curley, Grew, Mildred, Chittick that populate K1 lists depending on where exactly you live in Roslindale. Not all of these would have been on her list but she probably ended up with 10-12 on her actual list like mine had unless something has changed. And you have some citywides like the Hernandez on every list. So again, why only list 6 choices? I wouldn't judge any parent's specific choice but if you list that few schools, you severely weaken your chances to get a selection for K1. And with no snark intended, I'd actually like to know what schools the councilor chose to not list and why. If she thinks they're not good enough for her own child, that's a problem for all BPS students currently enrolled in those schools.


are wildly oversubscribed with walk-zone kids so chances are nil that a Roslindale kid would get in there.

K1 Demand (2018-2019)
31 open seats
289 applicants
9.3 applicants/open seat

k1 Demand
44 open seats
274 applicants
6.2 applicants/open seat

50% walk zone means your odds are way lower than 1 in 9 or 1 in 6...

I don't fault anyone for not wanting to bus their very young kids to school with kids up to 5th grade with minimal monitoring. That's nothing to do with the schools anywhere. My kid did not have a good time as a K1 kids on a BPS bus.

A slight aside

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I thought you were only able to give BPS 6 choices on your application, right?

You can rank all the schools

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You can rank all the schools on your list or as few as you want, in order of preference. The lists usually give you around ten options, give or take depending on where you live. You can choose to not rank a school, which then leaves it off your list for consideration. Listing fewer schools obviously weakens your chance of getting a selection.


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I swear that last year a parent I know went "0 for 6," so I thought that was the way. Thanks for the clarification.

"Sibling preference" is a

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"Sibling preference" is a pretty regressive policy if you think about. Why reward large families over small ones?

Off the top of my head

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Parents with multiple kids at the same school are more likely to get involved than parents who have to split their attention. Also decreases busing costs because overall you're consolidating pickups and drop-offs. And for parents who drive their kids to school, it decreases the number of cars dropping off/picking up.

Of course there are practical

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Of course there are practical advantages to sibling preference. But in a system where some schools have so much higher demand than others that you need to run a lottery to do placement, sibling preference creates an unintended consequence of locking out smaller families.

That doesn't fit the numbers

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The city has not eliminated Pre-K seats (at least they've never announced that,. These seats have been expanding since way back in the Menino administration). In 2017-2018 there were 3098 Pre k students. A year later there were only 2963. How/why is the number dropping if they are not cutting seats and the seats are oversubscribed? I can see someone not getting their first choice, or even a few people not getting a seat at all - but it appears that supply and demand are roughly in equilibrium - though perhaps not geographically.

As for Pre-k being less expensive - here's a great link - some way through the story they mention the district spends about $12,500 per pre k student. It's certainly a little higher now, but still only about 65-70% of the average student. Apples to apples, education costs pretty much always increase with age through college.


Bottom line - if we are saying we need $15 million extra in the budget for Pre-k - about 5 million of that is going somewhere else, no questions asked. We'll see what happens to enrollment next year - it could be that all 15 million is actually getting redirected if enrollment doesn't move materially. They did this with a $10 million supplemental fuel budget about 12 years ago. When fuel prices fell through the floor, the budget not only didn't drop, that $10 million with compounding has now become close to $20 million.

"though perhaps not geographically." is the whole thing

again, my experience in Roslindale - very few K1 seats available so we got a school out of Roslindale. That was difficult for a 4 yo. Anecdotally- that problem exists today for a person with connections (Wu). High school/middle school kids can (and do) travel farther for school than a 4YO.

per BPS there are 2400 K0-K1 seats - https://www.bostonpublicschools.org/Page/6521 Where are you getting your figures?

per DOE, there are 2,963 K1 students - http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/student.aspx?orgcode=00350000&orgt...

That is of course less than 750 seats but then the city is planning to add more residents some of which will procreate in the coming years.

There's your answer

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2400 seats for students 4 or older by a given date - that's K1. The other 563 are K0 (which I think is only open to disabled students and other special situations?).

This is a good program - especially for underprivileged kids and I'm glad my tax dollars are being used for this (I know - I'm going soft ;-) ). However, I remain skeptical until I see that enrollment expands by the 750 students.

K0 clarification

I don't know the exact criteria but there are IEP kids that warrant an early intervention plan and not only will they get a guaranteed K0 spot but they can begin at their third birthday regardless of the time of the school year. That makes sense because the hard cutoff date for what grade a kid is in can mean that required early intervention happens anywhere from right after the third birthday to just before the fourth.

The result is that there is certainly a higher percentage of seats going to those kids for K0 but they are still not the majority of the classroom.

Based on election

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Based on election participation, we certainly have the mayor we deserve.