Boston Municipal Research Bureau


BPS & BTU Agree on Extra 40 Minutes of Instruction Time

The Boston School Committee and Boston Teachers Union (BTU), with the Mayor’s support, reached agreement to extend the school day by 40 minutes for academic instruction and enrichment programs in elementary, K-8 and middle schools that do not have extended programs. Teachers will also receive an extra professional development time each week. At full implementation, the Extended Learning Time program is estimated to cost $12.5M per year. More time used wisely is important for an urban school district, but this plan raises some concerns. Read this report:


Revisiting Boston’s Pension System

Boston’s retirement system is 70.7% funded with an outstanding unfunded liability of $1.5 billion. The City will increase its pension appropriation by 9.25% annually and the unfunded liability will be fully paid down by June 30, 2025. The 70.7% funded ratio is below the 80% funded ratio threshold used by experts to identify healthy pension systems. Overall, Boston’s pension system is comparatively healthy and the City and Retirement Board have taken prudent steps to strengthen the integrity of its financial position. Sustaining this position will require the City to maintain strict discipline in funding the aggressive appropriation schedule and the Board to maximize investment performance, while refraining from investing in more risky asset classes, and control any liability increases. Full Report>


Boston Employee Levels Increase for Second Year

The number of Boston city-funded employees increased by 809 or 5.0% over the past two years (January 2012 to January 2014). Over the last year from January 2013 to January 2014, city-funded positions increased by 450 or 2.7% to 16,982. Payroll reductions in 2009, 2010 and 2011 due to the economic downturn resulted in a net five-year employee decrease of 296 or 1.7%. Additionally, in the first five months of the Walsh Administration, employee levels decreased by 118, due mainly to the restructuring of services in the Boston Public Schools and the timing of public safety classes and retirements. Full Report>


BOSTON: A City in Transition

As Boston enters a new period with the first new Mayor in twenty years, we have prepared a unique and comprehensive examination of Boston’s financial management, its development process and its organizational structure at the end of the Menino Administration.