A $63MM budget deficit has Boston’s Superintendent Carol Johnson, Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston School Committee focusing on what really matters for the city’s 56,000 students. Amidst major controversy during last Wednesday night’s meeting, the School Committee made the difficult choice to close nine schools, merging another eight into four in an effort to address a portion of the 5,600 empty seats that cost tax payers over $20MM per year. See the recent Boston Globe OpEd, “A Courageous Vote.”
With this Redesign and Reinvest proposal, Boston’s leaders recognize that only through this painful restructuring do the schools have the hope of long-term improvement. In addition to looking at targeted savings through transportation, class size increases, and special education delivery, the proposal seeks to improve teaching quality through revisions in the upcoming teacher contract: restructuring teacher evaluation, rewarding teachers for student results, providing greater flexibility in teacher assignment, and lengthening the school day. The success of the plan depends not only on reducing and redistributing sizeable operational costs but also on building a partnership in which district leaders, teachers, parents and the community, alike, understand the importance of making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains.