Boston Public School Students Stage Walkout Over Proposed Budget Cuts

Boston Public School Students Stage Walkout Over Proposed Budget Cuts

Boston Public School students rally in front of the State House. Students staged a walkout Monday to protest the proposed budget cuts Boston Public Schools could face next year. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Boston Public School students rally in front of the State House. Students staged a walkout Monday to protest the proposed budget cuts Boston Public Schools could face next year. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

BOSTON — Hundreds of students across Boston walked out of their classes on Monday to protest proposed districtwide budget cuts.

Boston Public Schools is facing an up to $50 million budget shortfall for the 2016-2017 school year. As a result, individual schools across the district are bracing to lose teaching positions, extracurricular activities, librarians, language programs and music and arts classes.

Jailyn Lopez helped organize Monday’s walkout. In a letter circulated on Twitter last week, the Snowden International High School student urged students at all of Boston’s public schools to leave class Monday at 11:30 a.m. and march to the State House to rally for more funds for public education.

“No matter what class you’re in get up and walk out of school,” the letter read. “Let’s stand up for our future, if we don’t then no one will.”

Students from the Snowden International School cross Arlington Street en route to the Boston Common to meet with other schools. Students staged a walkout to protest the proposed budget cuts Boston Public Schools could face next year. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Students from the Snowden International School cross Arlington Street en route to the Boston Common to meet with other schools. Students staged a walkout to protest the proposed budget cuts Boston Public Schools could face next year. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Boston Public Schools had written a letter to parents asking them to encourage their children to stay in class. That did not deter a large group of students from the Snowden International School from walking to the Common.

“We’re losing our Japanese class. We’re losing somebody in the Math Department, somebody in the Guidance Department, and I think there was one more…,” said Simon Mariano, a freshman at Snowden. “Librarian.”

On the Common, Snowden students were joined by students from all over Boston who marched to the State House. Half the crowd marched on to City Hall, then dispersed.

Hundreds of Boston Public School students run toward the steps of the State House during a protest on Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Hundreds of Boston Public School students run toward the steps of the State House during a protest on Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Although the schools budget from the city of Boston is $13.5 million more than last year, the district is still facing a deficit due to rising expenses.

Boston school officials proposed closing that deficit with $20 million in cuts to central office. They also proposed $10 million to $12 million in cuts to the district’s per-pupil funding formula.

As a result, all district schools would get less funding for high school students, students with emotional impairments and students with autism.

Organizers of the protest rally Boston Public School student at the Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Organizers of the protest rally Boston Public School student at the Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Boston Community Leadership Academy, Boston Latin School and John D. O’Bryant School of Math and Science could all lose at least six teaching positions, according to the BPS Citywide Parents Council. At least five schools could see substantial reductions to librarians.

Mayor Marty Walsh says the city will continue to work to try to close the school budget deficit.

The Boston School Committee is expected to approve a budget at their March 23 meeting.

This post was updated at 3:42 p.m. WBUR’s Fred Thys contributed to this report.


  • jefe68

    Good on them! Way to go Boston students!

    • JohnEssentials

      Say hi to henny

  • KostaDemos

    My daughter, a freshman at Boston Arts Academy, took part in this demonstration, as did nearly all of her classmates. I am very proud of them all for sticking up for their right to a quality education. I am disgusted that Walsh and Chang, while pushing for a lift of the charter school cap, are planning to eviscerate arts and language programs and to eliminate libraries at all but a few, elite, privileged schools like Boston Latin. How insulting and short sighted! Walsh, who rudely refused to acknowledge the students beyond saying that they should go back to class, should know that these kids are just beginning to fight. He’s going to find them more and more difficult to ignore. State legislators should sit up and pay attention, too.

    • jefe68

      Mayor Walsh is giving into the corporations as the GM tax break illustrates, in an attempt to crate an illusion that Boston is a world class city. Yet today while the students were protesting the MBTA board has approved a 9.3 percent fare hike which will also eat into the cities education budget. What we see here is Walsh pretty much getting chummy with Baker who we all know is interested in expanding charter schools at the expense of the BPS.

      • Samuel Sitar

        BPS comes first.

      • JohnEssentials

        Think15

  • Christine Langhoff

    Kudos to these well-organized, passionate students, many of whom continued their activism into the evening at the budget hearings at English High School. The true purpose of education in a democracy is to produce well informed, activist citizens – mission accomplished!

    • Malcolm Kirkpatrick

      Charles Darwin observed that the testimony of slaves as to their benign treatment by their masters, delivered in their masters’ presence, was not worth much.

  • Karl Riemer

    How about the $13.7million spent on “idle” teachers in the MA equivalent of the “rubber room.” How about the fact that the capacity of the system is around 90,000 students when the actual number is around 54,000. The money is there and it needs to be allocated properly. The mayor and Mr. Chang need to make some difficult decisions.

    • Samuel Sitar

      abolish the rubber room. that will free up loads of cash.

    • jshore

      KarlReimer and Samuel Sitar

      You are misinformed and misinforming Boston Public Schools has no “rubber room.” Professional Capacity Teachers were put in this position because former Superintendent McDonough violated the spirit of the MUTUAL BPS/BTU contract, that was negotiated in good faith, and it was supposed to be used to attract teachers in hard to staff subjects in our district. For example, if a school needed a Hungarian speaking math teacher who was also certified to teach dance. A principal could bypass the hiring system by offering a $1,250. stipend and hire a teacher who filled that criteria. This stipend was supposed to come out of the schools budget. It was never meant to be used to exploit and dismantle the teacher hiring system, which was in the best interest of children and fair to teachers, and it is nothing to be proud of.

      Encouraged by the Bob Gallery, CEO, Bank of America and Paul Grogan of the Boston Foundation, who have ulterior New Market Tax Credit, Historical Tax Credits, QZAB interest free bond motives, Interim Superintendent John McDonough raised $25 million to “hire early” and the BPS signed contracts with teacher recruitment agencies like Teach for America, Boston Teacher Residency, and Teach Next Year etc. BPS Classroom were filled with uncertified, unqualified “corps members” at the expense of the experienced, certified, permanent, Suitable Professional Capacity teachers.

      Many of these excessed teachers came back from maternity leave, taught in BPS “autonomous pilot and innovation schools,” turnaround schools, and Level 5 schools taken over by BESE; where a principal can remove or “excess” any staff member they choose yearly. I know great teachers in the Suitable Professional Capacity Teachers group who applied for several jobs, that they were qualified for, and never got the courtesy of an interview, or even a call or email to say the job was taken! The principals at some BPS turnaround schools excessed every teacher in the building just because they could! Poor, urban school children need stability and predictability to thrive and survive. How is this “Marching of the Teachers” in their best interest!

      • Karl Riemer

        Thank you for your thorough analysis jshore. The excess teacher situation is a tremendous waste of $ and ability. The need for reform and leadership is blatantly obvious. What do you propose to end the stalemate?

  • Geheran1958

    While quality education is a cornerstone of democracy scrutiny of a system that is the world leader in spending per student but ranks a mere 30th in student achievement is long overdue. What is needed is an independent assessment and comparison of world class school systems and the US. Such an undertaking must be free of unions, politicians and anyone with a vested interest in the status quo. Only when there is a clear picture of where the money goes will it be possible to find a way forward.

    • Malcolm Kirkpatrick

      (Geheran): “… quality education is a cornerstone of democracy …”

      Perhaps. To the extent that this holds, a State (government, generally) role in the education industry will degrade democracy. Government schools are to education in the US what collective agriculture was to nutrition in Ukraine in 1933.

      The Athens of Plato and Socrates, the cradle of democracy, did not compel attendance at school. The Althing (parliament) of Iceland predates compulsory schooling by centuries. Most of the colonies that became the original 13 United States did not compel attendance at school. Neither Thomas Jefferson nor James Madison attended State-operated schools, pre-college.

      It does not take 12 years at $12,000 per pupil-year ($20,000 in Boston) to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom. State provision of History, Civics, and Economics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers and electronic broadcast news media would be (are, in totalitarian countries like Cuba and North Korea).

  • Malcolm Kirkpatrick

    The Boston district website puts the operating budget at $1,013,000. NCES puts Boston enrollment (2012) at 55,114. This implies a per-pupil budget of $18,380. NCES __Digest of Education Statistics__ puts the Boston district expenditures (2012) per pupil $21,554. Why is this not enough?

  • Samuel Sitar

    this and other demonstrations are free speech.