Marty’s budget blues
With the stress on the Boston public schools budget prompting a massive student walkout and protest on Monday, a scorecard is almost needed to keep track of the villains who are responsible for all the trouble.
Mayor Marty Walsh was pointing fingers at outside groups. “I’d love to see who’s behind the walkout,” he told the Globe, clearly implying it was the product of more than just grassroots organizing among students. The Globe reported that two local groups, the Boston Youth Organizing Project and the Boston Education Justice Alliance, helped promote the protest, and that the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, a national group, was behind efforts across the country to fight cuts to school budgets.
The BPS budget for next year has not been finalized, but the latest reports suggest the system could face $10 to $12 million in cuts to programs. Even though the actual appropriation for the schools is going up, it is not keeping pace with the galloping cost of salaries and health care coverage.
There were more than a few signs, however, at Monday’s demonstration in front of the State House that pointed the finger at charter schools for taking money that would otherwise fund district schools. Stickers were being passed out to students that called for public dollars to go to public schools, a slogan that not only looks to undercut charters but doesn’t even acknowledge that they are also public schools. Massachusetts Teachers Association president Barbara Madeloni, who is poised to lead the charge against a ballot question this fall to raise the cap on charter schools, was circulating amidst the crowd of students.
The Herald says the country’s two big teachers unions are members of the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools and suggests the motive for encouraging protests was more to protect teachers than to save vital school programming. “Adults who use students for their own cynical purposes are beyond reprehensible,” says the editorial, which asks students, “How does it feel to be duped by adults who ought to know better?”
The Globe goes deeper into the budget morass and says there are legitimate grounds for protesting cuts to school programming. But its editorial asks “why students are bearing the brunt of the system’s fiscal woes, when there is still so much inefficiency in staffing and physical maintenance that could be eliminated without harming classroom education.”
The editorial says the school department maintains facilities to house 93,000 student seats, yet only serves 56,000 students, arguing that huge savings are possible from consolidation. It also points to huge growth in school personnel, which accounts for 78 percent of all municipal employee growth over the past three years. It also points to the inefficiency of paying tenured teachers who have, for various reasons, found themselves in the system’s “excess” pool but are not being selected by principals for positions in the district’s new open-post policy that grants school leaders more hiring autonomy. School closings and tough contract talks are never easy, but failure to aggressively pursue savings in those areas will leave blame for continued budget woes squarely on Walsh’s shoulders.
The editorial says it would be great if the state upped aid to the district, but says changing the school funding formula is tricky business.
The broader issue, however, is whether there is a big enough pie for school funding to be divided among the state’s districts. Senate President Stan Rosenberg has made clear that he doesn’t think there is.
Earlier this week, George Donnelly penned a powerful Globe op-ed, arguing that we are now home to a booming 21st century economy that is undergirded by an antiquated, underfunded infrastructure — whether talking about the MBTA or schools.
Those are both issues on which one might think Walsh would be leading the charge, but has been notably silent.
A House-Senate conference committee releases an opioid bill that limits first-time prescriptions to seven days, not the three that Gov. Charlie Baker had sought. (WBUR)
Senate President Stan Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo touch on a range of issues, including whether they really like each other. (Spoiler Alert: Yes.) (Greater Boston)
Jay Ash, the governor’s secretary of housing and economic development, testifies in support of a corporate tax break and a reduction in the state’s film tax credit. (State House News)
Republican Sen. Bruce Tarr of Gloucester proposes a searchable website of people who have been convicted of drug trafficking. Defense attorneys call the idea appalling. (Gloucester Times)
In a speech to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, Mayor Marty Walsh defends the tax breaks the city is handing to General Electric. (Boston Herald)
Lt. Charles Gray is named the new police chief in North Andover on a 3-2 vote of the Board of Selectmen. The selection was made using an outside assessment that was mistakenly mailed to the three chief candidates and will now be made public. (Eagle-Tribune)
Environmental groups call on Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone to call off his challenge of a permit granted to Wynn Resorts in Everett so the cleanup of the polluted property can proceed. (WBUR)
Investigators declared the shooting death by Oregon state police of one of the members of an armed militia group that seized land in that state was justified but federal officials have launched an investigation into FBI involvement in the confrontation. (New York Times)
The runaway Trump Train looks unstoppable and Michigan Berns Hillary. (U.S. News & World Report) James Pindell explains why the Michigan results portend possible trouble for Clinton in November. (Boston Globe) FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten says it was “one of the greatest upsets in modern political history,” with the Nate Silver site’s own nearly-always rock-solid model having given Clinton a greater than 99 percent chance of winning the primary.
Keller@Large takes a look at the presidential candidates’ stances on guns and gun control.
Seth Gitell, director of communications for House Speaker Robert DeLeo, writes about his encounter with Trump University at the outset of the Great Recession. (Politico)
He’s been likened to monstrous figures from world history responsible for genocide, and now, courtesy of Jeff Jacoby, Trump has been connected to Boston’s own mini-monster, Whitey Bulger. (Boston Globe)
There will be primaries in both parties for the special election to replace former state senator and now Weymouth Mayor Robert Hedlund. (Patriot Ledger)
Trouble ahead: The median retirement savings held by families headed by people aged 55 to 61 is $17,000. (Boston Globe)
Massachusetts is looking to get in on the drone action. (Boston Globe)
Two players involved in the Education Reform Act of 1993, Tripp Jones and state Sen. Michael Barrett, reflect on the law’s introduction of charter schools to the state — and on the charged debate now taking place over proposals to raise the charter cap. (CommonWealth) The Worcester City Council votes 10-1 in favor of a resolution calling for no increase in the cap. (Telegram & Gazette)
A member of the Spencer-East Brookfield Regional School Committee discloses that the high school principal who has been out of work for months was assaulted in her office by a mysterious “gang of three.” (Telegram & Gazette)
UP Academy’s disciplinary approach is very strict, resulting in more than 300 suspensions at an elementary school in Dorchester. (WBUR)
The state has found that Wayland school officials failed to conduct fingerprint-based background checks of coaches and supervisors in accordance with a new state law. (MetroWest Daily News)
Attorney General Maura Healey is moving to shut down a for-profit nursing school with classrooms in Brockton and Randolph, charging the college is unlicensed and has misrepresented its training and job placement to the largely Haitian population it targets. (The Enterprise)
Steward Health Care stakes out a lone-wolf position on a union-backed ballot question that would regulate hospital rates. (CommonWealth)
Researchers say sexual transmission of the Zika virus is more common than previously thought. (U.S. News & World Report)
Chipotle shuts down its outlet in Billerica because of an outbreak of norovirus. (The Sun)
A Lowell Sun editorial says the MBTA Fiscal Management and Control Board’s approval of a 9.22 percent average fare hike seems to reflect a no pain-no gain attitude. But the newspaper says it believes in what the board is doing. Riders grumble that the fare increase is unfair. (WBUR)
The general manager of Uber Boston slams a provision in proposed ride-hailing legislation that would ban his company and competitor Lyft from picking up passengers at Logan Airport. (Boston Herald)
Gov. Charlie Baker is being pressured to block Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline surveys in state parks. (Gloucester Times)
A Springfield bus monitor backs off his story that a parent pulled a gun on him. (Masslive)
The Boston Globe dumps the home delivery service that failed to get the job done three months ago and left thousands of customers without newspapers. (Boston Globe)PASSINGS
Legendary music producer Sir George Martin, most famous for his work with the The Beatles, has died. He was 90. (New York Times)