A day after thousands of Boston public school students walked out of class to protest budget cuts to education, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he plans to spare Boston high schools from the contentious reductions that would have put sought-after programs and teacher jobs in jeopardy.
Jeremy C. Fox, writing for the Boston Globe, reports that the School Department is going to delay roughly $6 million in new programs and take money from overall district budget items, meaning that high schools may receive at least a bit more money for the coming year.
“For the young people that expressed their concerns the other day, this addresses their concerns,” Walsh said in an interview.
Walsh has made improving Boston’s high schools a high priority on his education goals list. He has also been intent on preventing damaging cuts to schools.
The budget problem will be getting a little help from $5 million worth of charter school reimbursements to the city proposed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. Still, much needs to be done to curb spending for the 2017 and 2018 academic years.
Superintendent Tommy Chang will introduce the new proposal to the School Committee at the same time that the committee is scheduled to vote on a proposal of $1 billion, which is the same amount as last year.
The high-profile student rally last week was just another brick in the wall of protests from parents and students over the past month.
“This is something that I hear from parents, and I’ve heard from people now for the last month . . . sending me messages and calling me on phone,” he said. “I commend the kids for their advocacy here.”
One city official said plans for increasing the education budget include getting rid of a proposal to move high schools from six- to seven-period school days. The additional period would have meant that teachers would teach an extra class a day.
The extra class time would have brought a way to eliminate some teaching positions. But Chang added that he would be delaying some of his personal initiatives, such as expanded access to rigorous courses for elementary and secondary pupils. He hopes to commit his plans after the district increases its budget.
He continued by explaining that high schools need to be restored first, and that students will see business as usual when they come back to school in the fall.
Walsh told Joe Mathieu of WBZ NewsRadio that he still wishes the students had not walked out of class, but he wanted them to know that their message had been heard. He added that there was still an ongoing structural shortfall to solve, but he promised to spend taxpayer’s money on making Boston’s students get the best education they can.
Earlier in the week, writes Gintautas Dumcius for The Republican, Walsh said that Boston had not received sufficient aid from the state, and added that lawmakers needed to repair a broken system. He was also critical of the student protesters and said they had been given erroneous information concerning the school budget.