There is a significant change this year: BPS is now allocating funding to schools on a per student basis -- not by the amount of money that is required to fund a given staffing level. This may at first sound cosmetic, but it is a fundamental structural change in budgeting because it shifts many of the hard staffing choices from downtown to the individual schools -- and will impose substantial difficulties upon schools who have under-enrolled classes (i.e., empty seats).
The funding levels are calculated using a formula that provides additional resources to a school for its students that are low-income, English language learners, and special needs. Each school also is assigned a base funding to provide for the principal and one secretary.
The Boston Globe describes this new budgeting approach -- called "weighted student funding" -- in a story today, and more details can be found in a summary at the BPS website (PDF).
The budgeting aligns with the district's plans for improvements in instruction in both special education and English as a second language.
In special education, BPS has established three goals: minimizing the number of transitions and school transfers for special needs students; sending more special needs children to schools in their zone, rather than to a different zone; and expanding the number of inclusion programs across BPS, i.e., classrooms where special needs children can be instructed in a general education classroom (with a dual-certified teacher and paraprofessional support).
In ESL instruction, the district has substantially increased the number of teachers who are dual-certified through professional development classes. This will allow more students to receive their instruction through general education classrooms, rather than only in sheltered English immersion classrooms.
BPS has an extended summary of budget-related information on their website.