The Student News Site of Boston Latin School

The Argo

The Student News Site of Boston Latin School

The Argo

The Student News Site of Boston Latin School

The Argo

BLS Budget Breaks Bank

(Source: Ailin Sha (II)).

The School Site Council voted on January 24 to approve the Boston Latin School budget for the fiscal year of 2025. The operating budget will be less than 20 million dollars, approximately 900 thousand dollars less than the previous fiscal year. 

The decrease comes after the elimination of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding and grant money to BLS, which, when added to the reduction by Boston Public Schools, totals a deficit of over a million dollars. ESSER funding was the emergency pandemic funds provided by the federal government to support the recovery from COVID-19. This funding went mostly to one-time investments, like buying new materials, but also provided some funding to hire new staff.

In addition to the loss of ESSER funding, the state eliminated all grant money given to BLS, including Title I funding, because the school did not meet the required threshold for the funds. To be provided the grants, a school must have a student body that is at least 35 percent “low-income,” and BLS only has 31 percent of students that fit such a description.

Head of School Jason Gallagher explains, “Having that [ESSER], plus Title I, plus the reduction that BPS made, add up into the same year, that’s what makes it really challenging this year.”

All other funds have seen little to no change from the prior year, with the base allocation rolling over from the 2024 fiscal year. This is due to the district moving to the reimagined budget process from the weighted student formula. Those funds total to over 17 million dollars and make up the significant majority of the funds that make up the BLS budget.

Additional money is being added to the upcoming year’s budget for health related services, including small increases to money allocated to nurses and guidance counselors. BLS is also adding another coordinator to come into the school one day a week.

Due to the budget deficit, the School is required to lay off some staff members whose salaries cannot be covered without the additional ESSER funding. These positions include a seventh-grade math support teacher, a community field coordinator, an ALPHA coordinator, a cluster substitute, a guidance counselor and a modern language teacher. A part-time music teacher position that was funded by ESSER will be removed as well.

These staffing changes are also due to BPS requiring schools to “consolidate classrooms that are under enrolled to reinvest those dollars.” In order to meet those requirements the administration highlighted several areas in the school that could be cut down. Even with the changes, no courses will be removed from the school and students will still have every opportunity provided by BLS.

BLS AP Economics teacher and Boston Teachers Union representative Mr. Patrick Boor explains, “The goal is basically to provide the same support to students, but obviously this is not ideal because teachers are what make a school and they play an invaluable role. So I think that’s what makes these decisions very difficult.”

The process of approving the budget involved Gallagher forming and presenting the budget to the School Site Council and then attending Probable Organization with the district on January 29. The vote on approving the budget by the School Site Council was not unanimous, however, with two teachers voting to reject the budget.

Co-chair of the School Site Council Magda Hernandez (P’22, ’25) shares, “The role of site council is not to reject the budget. We don’t have that authority. Where we can make everyone’s voices heard is by commenting on the budget and allowing people to voice their concerns.”

These cuts come as a result of a proposal by BPS to close up to half of schools in order to consolidate its classrooms due to overall enrollment steadily declining since 2006. With this decline, BPS has mandated that all schools reduce staffing by at least one full-time staff member, though there is no word on whether BPS central office will reduce staff due to the budget cuts.

Gallagher sums up the situation: “This is not something that we want to do, the staff who we will be losing are dedicated to our school, they’ve added a lot to us over the last couple of years and they’re really valuable people. But when you have a budget and you lose a million dollars, you can’t keep everything, and that’s the hardest part of the job.”

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