Students plan 2nd walkout over cuts to school funding
City Councilor Tito Jackson says Boston has enough money to avoid cuts to public schools and that he will press Mayor Martin J. Walsh to increase the district’s budget for next year by more than $30 million to meet rising costs.
The council is set to discuss the budget Tuesday afternoon, following a planned student walkout to protest cuts. More than 1,000 people have said they will attend the protest on a Facebook page created to promote the action.
“I am going to lead a charge through the Boston City Council to reverse the cuts and to fully fund” city schools, Jackson said in an interview.
Walsh said his office would consider any suggestions Jackson has.
“If he wants to make recommendations to cut programs to fund other programs, he has every right to do that, and every city councilor has that right,” Walsh said.
Walsh also expressed concern about the planned walkout.
“I commend the kids for advocating and fighting for additional funding … but I also see some students being guided in some schools by adults that are encouraging them to leave,” Walsh said. “There’s too much at stake right now.”
Students should be preparing for final exams, he said, and 10th-graders are scheduled to take the MCAS math exam, a graduation requirement.
The School Department suggested that, rather than missing school, students voice their concerns at a June 7 public forum.
To increase the School Department budget, Jackson said the city could redirect money from other areas, such as the $8 million left over from last winter’s snow removal budget.
He also suggested that the city could free up $16 million for schools by funding parking enforcement from a Boston Transportation Department account that contains nearly $100 million collected from parking meters.
But the city is already tapping the meter account to pay for parking enforcement, Walsh administration officials said. The $8 million in unspent snow removal money, officials said, is earmarked for improvements to Franklin Park, Harambee Park, and other public spaces.
The officials argued that the School Department is getting an increase in line with those of other vital city services -- such as police, firefighters, and ambulances -- and that boosting funding using one-time sources would increase structural deficits for future years and potentially hurt the city’s credit rating.
The school district’s budget for next year is more than $1 billion and includes a $13.5 million bump. Officials say spending for next year will likely increase after the School Department completes contract negotiations with the Boston Teachers Union.
That walkout was promoted in part by groups with union ties, including the Boston Education Justice Alliance and the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools.
Earlier this month, hundreds of parents, teachers, and students participated in early morning “walk-ins,” at campuses across the city before the first bell.
On Tuesday, students plan to leave school at 1 p.m. and march to the budget hearing in City Hall, according to a statement from the Youth United for the Now Generation Coalition, an organization that said it is providing support for the student-led effort.