BOSTON, Mass.—The Boston Public School system is facing a $61 million deficit next year due to cuts in state and federal funding, cost increases and enrollment miscalculations. On April 8, a group of parents showed up to raise money and awareness for this issue by turning to an age-old fundraising technique: a bake sale.
While their children played on the steps leading up to city hall plaza, parents chatted with each other and with buyers of the varied baked goods. Due to permit constraints, the food was store-bought, though many goods were donated by local businesses. Monumental Cupcakes in Jamaica Plain, Sugar Bakery in West Roxbury, Ula Café in Jamaica Plain and Haley House Café in Roxbury all provided treats for the cause. Among the many rush hour snack-seekers and BPS supporters was BPS school Superintendent John McDonough, as well as Boston City Councilors Tito Jackson and Matt O’Malley.
Referring to the sale as “serious silliness,” BPS parent Heshan Berents-Weeramuni was happy to be there drawing attention to the pressing budgetary issue. “We really are doing this because we feel we need to be recognized as parents who care about an amazing set of public schools. You’ve got thirty-plus schools represented right here,” Berents-Weeramuni said.
The bake sale is not all the BPS parents have been doing in terms of the budget deficit issue explained Berents-Weeramuni: “For the past two months, we’ve been talking to state senators and representatives, as well as the city council, and we hope that the mayor will meet with us as well. The cuts are far worse than they look on paper and we really want to make sure that the politicians understand that.”
In a press release, bake sale organizer and Mendell School parent, Ellen Pierce, said, “When good, successful schools like ours, and many others, become neglected, it’s the kids in those schools who suffer the consequences. There are many things parents have come to appreciate about BPS in recent years, and it’s such a shame that so much good work will be undone by these cuts.” Jokingly, she added, “So we thought we’d help. We think we can sell enough cupcakes to help close that $61 million gap. And muffins as well!”
In the end, the sale raised $1,210, which makes up 0.002 percent of the deficit. At that rate, it will take 50,412 more bake sales to make up the rest, though BPS parents are hoping it will not come to that.