CALL TO ACTION: Stand with Chelsea Students to Protect our Schools
Posted on: April 3, 2018
The Chelsea Public Schools (CPS) are facing a budget crisis for the next school year, with an additional $2.9 million needed to provide an equitable education to Chelsea students in September 2018. The Superintendent and School Committee are discussing cuts that will drastically impact our city's diverse students. Following the leadership of our youth, the Chelsea Collaborative is mobilizing in Chelsea to include stujdent and family voices in school budget decision-making, and at the state level to advocate for reforms to the formula that determines funding for Massachusetts schools.
As a Gateway City, Chelsea schools are richly diverse, though many of our students require additional educational supports to close achievement gaps. Chelsea Public Schools have the highest rate of English Language Learners (37%) in the state and the second highest rate of Latino students (86%) in the state - behind Lawrence. Sixty-six percent of Chelsea students are economically disadvantaged, children of poverty.
Currently, our students are not receiving the wraparound services needed to succeed. With additional cuts - the situation will reach a crisis level. Chelsea's dropout rate (6%) is three times the state average and English learners are leaving school at the alarming rate of nearly 12%. Chelsea students also have high rates of past trauma, which - if left unaddressed - leads to disengagement in school and other opportunities, risky behaviors, and lifelong hardship. We must support these students holistically and fully for them to achieve the academic success that is their right.
OUR STUDENTS NEED YOUR SUPPORT
The Chelsea Collaborative's youth-led RIOT Squad has been working on a campaign to improve school funding, provide much-needed supports to ELL students and families, address ongoing mental health concerns among youth, and increase access to higher education for more Chelsea youth. They are mobilizing our community to:
1. Educate and mobilize Chelsea students and families to proactively participate in school budgeting processes.
Our youth are conducting multilingual outreach to their peers and families and involve them in the school district's decision-making. Youth are organizing educational forums to raise awareness of the budget issues, preparing testimony for budget hearings, and mobilizing our community to attend public meetings and have their voices heard.
2. Advocate for reforms to the Foundation Budget - the formula that determines funding for Massachusetts schools.
The Foundation Budget, or Chapter 70, has chronically underfunded our schools for years. It's time for a new formula. Our youth are joining other statewide groups to support Bill S. 223 to modernize the Foundation Formula for 21st century education. The bill would positively impact districts like Chelsea dramatically, with changes to funding formulas supporting English learners, lower income students, and students with disabilities.
CLICK HERE FOR AN UPDATED VERSION OF BILL S. 223.