School committee bilingual $$ cut angers parents

The Boston School Committee lopped $ 1.2 million from a reserve fund and $ 1 million from bilingual education programs last night to pare its budget to $ 592.9 million, which remains $ 6 million beyond the target set by City Hall.

The last-minute financial cut was slammed by a parents group that supports bilingual education as a short-sighted financial move that could violate a 21-year-old consent decree reached by parents and the district.

“My contention is the court mandated we come to an agreement and we came to an agreement and when you do that it’s legally binding,” said Tony Molina, president of Bilingual Master Parents Advisory Council, which represents families from 13 linguistic groups.

The $ 1 million cut was a compromise from a possible $ 1.6 million reduction that would have eliminated 20 teachers and 24 aides through attrition, said Boston Superintendent Thomas Payzant.

He said the power of the consent decree is a legal question that will have to be resolved. But he hoped to restore the funds and receive the additional $ 6 million with increased state aid.

Two years after removing race as a factor in admission to Boston’s elite exam schools, black students made gains in ninth-grade invitations to Boston Latin School and more Hispanic students were admitted to Boston Latin Academy in the seventh grade, school officials said yesterday.

But school officials were troubled by a 2 percent – or 10-student – decline in the number of public school students admitted to Latin’s seventh-grade class this year. Students who attended private elementary schools made up 58 percent of the 440 invitees.

The number of black students admitted to Latin in the seventh grade declined by 1 percent, but there was a 7 percent jump at ninth grade.

The percentage of whites invited to Latin increased by 4 percent at seventh grade, but dipped by 4 percent in ninth grade.

The percentage of Asian students admitted declined at both grade levels at Latin.

At Latin Academy, there was a 4 percent increase in Hispanic invitees over last year. The number of white students admitted to Latin Academy increased by 10 percent.

At the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science, the percentage of black students admitted in seventh grade increased by 4 percent.

The abandonment of race as a factor in the city’s “Controlled Choice” student-assignment system this year produced a “significant” – or 105-student – reduction in children assigned to a school they did not choose to attend, according to an analysis.

The shift produced a slight decrease – 106 – in the number of students who did not receive their first choice of schools.

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