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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Boston Public School Students Stage Walkout Over Proposed Budget Cuts

From WBUR 90.9 FM's Blog
"The Learning Lab"

By Peter Balonon-Rosen
March 7, 2016

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

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

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)

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.

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.

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.

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