The Budget Crisis That Wasn't
If you had read the papers in the early spring and had a child in the Boston Public Schools, you may have lost sleep worrying that the BPS was in desperate financial straits. Parents can rest easy. Unbeknownst to most taxpayers, Boston is now one of the wealthiest school districts in the entire United States based on expenditures per pupil.
According to the state's website Boston's school budget per pupil is the same as Weston's and thousands of dollars higher than "wealthy" districts like Brookline, Hingham, Newton, Wellesley and Winchester. For a full list of where Boston stands relative to other communities in Massachusetts, click here: http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/ppx.aspx and then click twice on the column headed "expenditures per pupil".
While the rest of the state lays off teachers, adds fees and cuts school services, thanks to additional staffing and salary increases, Boston's education budget will increase 5.7% next year and this is further complemented by an additional 1-2% drop in the number of students meaning that per capita expenses will increase in 2009 by roughly 7% or almost $50 million.
So whence the massive shortfall?
There are many problems in the BPS. It has become painfully obvious that more money is not the solution to these problems as Boston perennially ranks in the bottom 5% on statewide standardized test scores in spite of massive spending increases over the past 15 years.