How Funding Cuts are Tied to Enrollment

For families with children in the Boston Public Schools, it is not uncommon to hear of budget cuts for the following school year; news that is delivered annually to school communities just prior to the holiday break in December.

The amounts vary school by school, and year by year, but these cuts are based on one key determining factor: how many children are projected to be enrolled in each school for the following year.

The city’s ongoing loss of school-aged children will continue to have financial consequences for all Boston schools if it remains unaddressed.  As illustrated in our latest video, just looking at the enrollment of Brighton High School tells a compelling tale. In 10 years, the high school’s enrollment has dwindled from 1,208 students to 535 in the 2019-20 school year.

As enrollment drops in schools across the city, so too does the amount of funding each school receives under the district’s current method of funding schools, known as Weighted Student Funding.  For schools with declining enrollments, the loss of funding means the loss of opportunities, resources, and specialities. Art and music are often the first to go, field trips may be non-existent, and key explorations in computers and science are limited, at best.  Essential student supports, like mental health counselors, are also thinly spread across the district at a time when the demand for them far exceeds the supply.

In a nutshell, all students potentially suffer from having resources spread thin, and students in schools with low enrollment in particular are likely to receive less than students in the district’s fully enrolled schools.  There are no easy answers to this problem.  

Honest dialogue is required from city leaders in order to find real solutions.  Such dialogue needs to focus on the goal as well as the problems. SchoolFacts Boston would humbly submit that the idea of giving every student state of the art schools that are fully enrolled, fully staffed, and full service is a worthy goal and where the conversation should begin.

What is your child’s school currently missing that you’d like to see restored? We’d love to know what you think. Email us at