(Curley K-8 parent council / YouTube)
Students, teachers, staff, and parents at a public school in Jamaica Plain have a simple, but strong message for local leaders who plan to cut the K-8 school’s budget for next year -- “Enough, No More.”
In a pair of powerful videos titled with that slogan – one in English the other in Spanish – the Curley K-8 school community is calling on the Boston Public Schools administration and local elected officials to reverse proposed cuts and restore funding to a school that has seen its enrollment rise in recent years and is projected to grow again next year.
Featuring several students, teachers and staff, the video is made by a trio of parents, according to a blog entry on a website maintained by the school’s parent council.
In 2009, 685 students were enrolled at the Curley School and the school had a $7.6 million budget, according to the video. In 2013, the school is projected to have 824 students with a budget of $6.24 million.
Among the staff responsible for serving next year’s projected student population will be: one guidance counselor, one secretary, one full-time nurse, and no librarians in either of its two libraries, the video says. This past year, the school has lost two computer and writing teachers, a science teacher, a social studies teacher and more.
“No one knows as much about our school as the people who teach and learn there every day,” the website entry says. “In this video they talk in their own words about why they love the Curley, and what kind of impact the budget cuts have already had on our school.”
The latest citywide schools spending proposal for the next budget year – an $856.5 million plan unveiled last month – is 3.1 percent higher than this current school year’s budget.
"As for the video itself, we welcome that kind of comment," said Boston schools spokesman Lee McGuire. "Obviously, were are listening closely to anything they have to say."
Since the school department released its spending proposal last month, members of the Curley School community have spoken out at School Committee meetings on behalf of the parent council, according to council’s website. Before the School Committee votes, two more budget hearings are scheduled for March 12 and March 21.
But, school department leaders say that the Curley school would have actually seen its budget rise by nearly 5 percent next fiscal year had the school not received a one-time city allocation of nearly half a million dollars in funding for its current budget to help the school cope with a new, citywide school funding allocation system.
Accounting for $464,000 in "soft-landing," funds in the Curley's current budget, the $6.24 million the school is proposed to receive next year is 2.9 percent less than its current funding, McGuire said, citing figures available on the department's website.
That "soft-landing" funding was given to the Curley to help the school transition to a new weighted student funding system implemented across Boston's school district at the beginning of this school year. The Curley school's administration was told last year that the soft-landing funding was a one-time-only deal, McGuire said.
The new system decreased the school's base annual allocation this year by 10.5 percent compared to the $7.2 million the school received in fiscal year 2011.
The weighted student funding system allocates money based not only on each school's enrollment, but also based on which types of students make up each school's population, officials said. For example, the system now factors in a school's funding based on how many of its students have special needs, are learning English or require free or reduced lunch; the system is designed to have money "follow the students through the system no matter which school they attend."
McGuire noted that of Boston's 31 K-8 schools, 17 will see their budgets increase and 14 will see a decrease, and that "the Curley is kind of smack in the middle in that group in terms of the impact."
He also noted that administrative leaders at each school in Boston decide how to spend the annual allocation of funding they receive from the city school department.
To read more about the parent council’s efforts to reverse next year’s proposed budget cuts, click here.
The parent council will host its annual silent auction to fund-raise for the school on March 13. To read more about those plans, click here.
E-mail Matt Rocheleau at email@example.com.
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(Curley K-8 parent council / YouTube)