With the City Budget now before the City Council, Councilor Lydia Edwards said she intended to vote against the Boston Public Schools budget on Wednesday afternoon due to the inequitable cuts to her district.
“It’s not fair and there is no reason we should be cutting the school budgets in my district so drastically,” she said. “This sends a terrible message to the kids that they are not important… Our communities are facing a displacement crisis. Many students and their families are leaving because they cannot afford to stay. Other families who can afford to stay are choosing to leave because they see a lack of response from BPS to today’s educational challenges…Given the impact on District 1, and the lack of response to constituent concerns, I cannot support the budget.”
Edwards said schools in District 1 – which includes Charlestown, East Boston and the North End – are receiving “massive” cuts of approximately $2.6 million. She said East Boston High, the Harvard-Kent School and the Umana School have combined cuts of $2 million.
She said some of the schools are getting cuts because their enrollment is declining, such as East Boston High. However, she said those schools under BuildBPS are ramping up to add middle school grades and need funding now in order to prepare for expansion.
“It doesn’t make sense to pull funding from schools just before you invest in expanding them,” she said. “We need to invest in schools and housing in a way that stabilizes communities and the social relationships within them. When we pull funding from the schools that serve our neighborhoods today, we signal to those who have just barely been able to hang on financially that the struggle to remain in place just isn’t worth it.”
She said there needs to be more equitable funding across the district, as well. While she said she was proud that families from the Warren Prescott School fought and received a modular classroom for their expanding enrollment last school year, she also was distressed that East Boston High students fought as well to restore cuts from the budget of their school, and got no response.
Meanwhile, she said the budget doesn’t address the expansion plan of the schools under BuildBPS, and too many families are in limbo as to the timeline of these plans.
“We haven’t seen a clear commitment or plan to expand schools K-6, which schools will move forward or along what timeline,” she said. “We have 4th graders in limbo across the district. We also have no response to issues with the K0-K1 waitlist.”
The vote on the School Budget, along with the rest of the City Budget, was expected to come on Wednesday, June 26, after Patriot-Bridge deadlines.