State Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, will co-host with Senator Brownsberger a listening session to learn more about the needs of schools in Watertown, Belmont and Boston in advance of the senate’s FY20 budget debate in late May. In the first segment of the event, local leaders in education will be invited to share their schools’ experiences and concerns. After their testimony, there will be some time for those attending to make comments and ask questions.

The hearing will be limited to two hours. Of course, online comments (submit below) will be accepted if there is not enough time for all who wish to comment and from those who cannot make the meeting.

WHEN: Monday, May 13 at 6 PM
WHERE: Honan-Allston Branch Library | 300 N. Harvard Street, Allston 02134

Feel free to raise issues as comments below if you want to make sure they get discussed during the meeting.

14 replies on “Listening Session on Education Funding”

  1. The Ed budget should include money to put fire safety information in all health education curriculums – elementary, middle and high school (and college). Also, students should be tested on the fire safety curriculums. My daughter died due to a lack of fire safety information.

  2. I hope Liz Breadon , candidate for Boston city counsel, will be there to give her thoughts about A-B school funding.

  3. The state should fully pick up the tab for the costs of mandates on the community. I do not have any children in the school system but I have to pay 27% of my pension on property taxes. I think the alignment of beneficiaries and the burden needs to be addressed. Maybe a business tax earmarked to higher ed. Think about it, Business is the beneficiary of the educated workforce, they should pay

  4. Schools in the state need to be funded appropriately. As a teacher, I can attest to the fact that educators are being asked to do a lot more with a lot less. And that is not just in terms of salary; this includes the resources and materials that teachers desperately need. I am also a fiscal conservative, so I am not one to say “more taxes” and just try to throw money at the problem. However, there is a significant shortfall in how schools are funded. I support the Promise Act, which will not raise taxes or find “new” money, but will also will make up this shortfall while ensuring that the disparity between students in lower economic districts and wealthier districts is narrowed.

  5. As a product manager specializing in education technology, I’m generally a fan of its use in coordination with teacher training. Seeing now my High Schooler I’m concerned about its overuse and its extending screen time, and I can see budgetary requests made for technology grants, but without the corresponding teacher training on how best to use (and not use). I would also like to see educational leaders start to develop programs on how to balance the use of technology with “offline” homework and assessment.

  6. As a BPS parent I am disgusted daily to witness the increasing wealth and gentrification in our city when parents like myself are spending so much of our extremely limited time to do fundraising for programs that ensure our students are getting the support they need to thrive at school. It should be legally required that ALL students in Boston have the funding they need to thrive, especially when so many Boston residents can afford to live in a luxury condo. We need to stop trying to figure out how to spread limited funds FAIRLY and start thinking about how much MORE funding we need to ensure ALL our children thrive. We need to hold accountable the people who benefit from living in our city today and who are not investing in the future of our city.
    I personally know many children and families at our school who are struggling with homelessness, deportation, lack of food, clothing and many other challenges including being pushed out of unaffordable rentals. Today I can easily count the number of parents I know who are being forced to rent a bedroom in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment with children. As parents we might be able to help fundraise for fieldtrips but no matter how much money we raise, this can never substitute the work of a social worker or programs like City Connects, who assess the needs of each of our students and make sure our children’s families are connected to critical resources for the support they need at home. Our fundraising also does not fix the issue of ensuring our teachers have the supports needed to provide high quality education – so that not every family is trying to pressure their children to pass an exam to be admitted to Boston Latin.
    Every week my husband and I volunteer between 5-8 hours per week to support our daughter’s school. So far this year we have personally donated more money then what we can afford. Therefore, I am extremely concerned at how our students, especially those with the highest needs, will be impacted by these severe budget cuts. We are fortunate to be in a school with an active parent council but there are many more schools in Boston that do not have this. As a result the gap in equity continues to grow. As this gap in equity grows we will eventually all put at risk our future personal safety, security, and well-being that we take for granted today. Investing in our children’s education today is an investment in the well-being for all of us tomorrow – especially those citizens without children who in the future will need to fend for themselves when they are older. Money doesn’t buy safety, but when invested in education which generates a high skilled workforce, well that usually does make a difference.

    1. I second this sentiment 100%! The quality of your school and school programming should not be dependent on the ability of the individual families to fundraise as not all school communities have that luxury. Many students’ parents are working 3 jobs to provide, or need to prioritize personal struggles if homeless/transient, or don’t speak/read fluent English. Requiring individual schools to fundraise only solidifies the equity gap between the haves and the have nots. And this is not even to fund those “extras” like arts, field trips, and recess supervision, this is to fund those basic necessities like access to a school nurse, curriculum materials, special education services/supports, and school maintenance. If we want our schools to prioritize preparing our next generation of citizens, we need to prioritize education in the budget. It is as simple as that. If every child is guaranteed access to an education, why are we not providing the supports to ensure that it is equal access to a *quality* education. Because if the school is failing, it is not the teachers, it is not the students, it is not the families- it is the funding. You can’t make a miracle happen for a penny.

    2. I also 2nd this and what Mx. O’Leary has stated. I am a childless adult who believes all people deserve access to their basic necessities, a high quality education, and environments, activities, and people that help them to thrive. I also do not feel that arts, physical activity, field trips, clubs and other “extra”curriculars are really “extras,” but instead part of a well-rounded education. These things help people find themselves and their passions, encourage the development of community and leadership, foster the natural excitement people have for learning (which is often squashed in bare-minimum schools), allows students to develop relationships with mentors and other nonfamilial adults and peers, teach the joy of staying committed to a task and watching oneself improve, and teaches resiliency when overcoming challenges and failures. We do not need more luxury condos. We need affordable housing, high quality public transportation, and a commitment to education of our young people and people of all ages who are pursuing their education.

  7. Local district education foundations are one of the fastest-growing institutions in the philanthropic sector. The legislature needs to consider the imbalance created by these foundations as part of its education funding review.

    Local education foundations perpetuate funding inequities. It’s no surprise that schools in wealthy suburbs are able to raise more in donations than poor or mixed income communities. When towns like Brookline, Lexington, Newton and Wellesley have $2 million in donations to add to their school operating budget (these are extreme examples but there are many others with sizable assets), we’re all guilty of standing on the sidelines as educational disparities widen.
    Here are a few changes to consider (h/t Rob Reich and the National Commission on Civic Investment in Higher Education): 1) If a foundation raises money for a district with a high percentage of children eligible for free lunch, it could offer a double deduction; for a district below the average in per-pupil spending, the standard deduction; for a district with few poor children and higher than average per-pupil spending, no deduction. 2) Foundation funding could be aggregated across mixed-income districts and dispersed equitably. 3) Foundation assets could be considered in the state funding formula.

    Since education funding is related to property taxes, it’s time the legislature takes a good look at country clubs’ nonprofit status. I would like to see our legislature end exemptions for country clubs and allow cities and towns to tax them at their property’s appraised rate.

    These are simple measures to help catch our policies up with our values, and that help to shrink the gap between rich and poor.

  8. If residents pay property taxes, who shouldn’t
    country clubs do the same ? This might not be
    much help to Boston, but certainly would help
    Belmont, which has a very limited commercial
    tax base.

  9. A promise is a promise. The Legislature needs to it’s promise. The promise bill must be passed.

  10. I am so glad to see this session taking place and am looking forward to the discussion.

  11. As a Belmont resident who supports public education, I urge you to help pass the Promise Act and the Cherish Act, which are the only proposed bills that adequately address inequities in educational funding.

  12. Thanks to all who have weighed in above — I completely agree that we need to provide more funding to assure that all children have access to good education. The challenge is finding the money — raising taxes must be done with great care and respect for the willingness of voters to pay or else they will reverse the increases.

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