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School Committee adopts $588 Million Budget

|   City News

The School Committee tonight approved a School Department budget that invests significant funding directly to schools, including significant appropriations for mental health services.

More than $45.4 million will go directly to schools so each school can customize a spending plan that best addresses the needs of their students in a way that is specific to the needs of their population.

“This approach has proven to be extremely successful because the needs of each school vary and in allowing principals and their staffs autonomy to make their own funding decisions, we open the path for schools to move forward with clear intention and priorities,” said Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick.

 Warwick pointed to the High School of Technology as an example. Under the school-based funding model, the graduation rate at the High School of Science and Technology has increased from 39.9 percent in 2012 to 93.6 percent last year.

“As the principal of a school focused on continual improvement, I am extremely grateful for the autonomy that the district provides us so that we can invest in resources, services and programs that address the specific areas that we know will best serve the needs of our students,” said High School of Science and Technology Principal Kevin Lalime. “Our staff knows our students – one-on-one, name-by-name, and this funding formula allows us to see them as individuals with needs that we can work to accommodate.”

 Warwick called the High School of Science and Technology graduation rate increase "significant," but added the improvement does not exist in a vacuum. "As a district, we have narrowed the gap with the state overall and in every student category,” he said.

Warwick pointed to gains made in the district’s:

•           Graduation rate (rose from 56.6% in 2012 to 84.6% last year), and

•           Drop-out rate (declined from 10% in 2012 to 3.9% last year)

“Graduation and dropout rates are among our top indicators, and we are pleased with the direction each has been steadily going under our school-based budgeting model,” said Warwick.

Building on that model of success, the FY2024 (FY24) budget adopted tonight includes an unprecedented school-based allotment for mental health services, Warwick said.

“We know it is a topic of utmost importance to our students and staff, families and community, and we have been investing heavily in mental health services – especially since the onset of the pandemic," he said. "The American Psychological Association has described the mental health of children as being in crisis, and we recognize the responsibility that we have as a school district to address that issue as wholly as we can."

For FY24, the district is investing almost $30 million in a suite of various mental health services. This includes City Connects counselors in all schools. City Connects programming addresses social/emotional and other non-academic needs by connecting students and even their families to resources in the community, including mental health services. “Even with our previous investments in mental health, this budget provides an unprecedented amount for mental health support,” Warwick said.

Warwick added that the FY24 budget also allows the district to work towards the actualization of the community’s vision of what students should know and be able to do when they graduate.

“It is built upon the priorities identified in the Portrait of a Graduate in a way that allows schools to expand upon existing successful programs that address these tenants, but it also gives schools latitude to invest in new and innovative data-driven programs, curriculums, and initiatives that will further propel the Portrait of a Graduate trajectory,” he said.

The general fund budget is $588 million for Fiscal Year 2024. The proposed budget won the School Committee’s unanimous approval during a special meeting tonight. It becomes effective July 1st.

Page last updated:  Tuesday, March 1, 2022 01:32 pm