Saturday, 2:15 PM
Superintendent: Boston schools must cut 900 jobs
By James Vaznis, Globe Staff
The Boston schools will have to eliminate at least 900 jobs, including 403 teaching positions, and explore the closure of additional schools as the system confronts its worst budget crisis in more than a decade, Superintendent Carol R. Johnson announced tonight.
Her budget plan, unveiled at a School Committee meeting, would also restructure the district into five smaller zones, reducing the district's skyrocketing transportation costs but limiting the number of schools parents can choose from.
The spending proposal represents a 5.5 percent cut in this year's $833.1 million budget at a time when the district is trying to address persistent concerns about student achievement, a dropout problem, and low graduation rates.
To achieve that deep a reduction, while taking into account the rising costs of salaries, special education, and other services, the district must spend $107 million less.
The plan presented last night identifies $83 million in specific cuts, mostly through eliminating positions, and lays out possible strategies for coming up with the additional $24 million in savings, including the possible school closures and changes in the district's bus system.
While the elimination of 403 of the district's 6,500 teaching positions, a 6 percent cut, raises the specter of larger class sizes and fewer class offerings, Johnson said in a memo to the School Committee that she remains committed to "achieving our core mission of providing every child with a first-rate public education."
The drastic measures reflect what is happening in city halls, town offices, and at school committee meetings across the state, as cities and towns try to grapple with the ever-widening impact of the economic decline, which has led to steep decreases in state aid.
In Boston - where City Hall is facing a projected $140 million shortfall next year - city leaders are bracing for a significant reduction in state aid next year and an estimated $14 million decline in local revenue generated by licensing and permit fees, interest income, and excise taxes, according to city officials.