Despite the tough times of the pandemic, Boston Public Schools is poised to receive the largest appropriation ever from the city with a $36 million increase from last year as part of a $1.29 billion fiscal 2022 budget proposal.
“The investments we plan to make this year in $36 million is really to look at not only a strong return … but also looking very much at recovery and how we are going to support our schools overall with the social emotional well-being of our children,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius.
Some highlights from the budget proposal, which was also bolstered with $32.3 million in supplemental funding from the CARES Act, include $49 million to support students whose education was disrupted by the pandemic, $12 million to reopen schools, $18.5 million to support schools with declining enrollment and a combined $16.8 million for social workers and family liaisons.
Funding for each student is also increasing from about $21,800 to $23,500.
Nate Kuder, the district’s CFO, said in a Wednesday press briefing, “This is a big deal. This is taking … a significant commitment from the city at a time when we see financial instability in revenues and instability at the state level.”
Public school enrollment across the state and in Boston has declined significantly, but Kuder said the district won’t have any budget cuts due to declining enrollment.
The $36 million increase in the proposed budget includes an allocation from the $100 million commitment made by Mayor Martin Walsh last year.
“This budget proposal provides the Boston Public Schools with the capital to adequately distribute supports, address learning loss and provide an equitable recovery for our students,” Walsh said in a statement.
Despite shuttering its doors for much of the year, BPS saw modest savings on things such as fuel for school buses, according to Kuder.
However increased costs for PPE, cleaning and air filtration added up, along with food costs as the district has served more than four million meals to the community.
Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang said in a statement the union is glad to see supports for family communications and social emotional wellness in the budget.
“We also hope that this budget can be sustained beyond next year, as the district moves toward a budget where all schools have what they need and don’t have to make difficult choices between the types of positions and conditions all students deserve,” Tang said.
The budget was presented during Wednesday night’s school committee meeting and it will not be voted on until March 24 after a series of public hearings.