Opinion » Guest Opinion

BPS Students To Northeastern:

Friday Oct 19, 2018

Photo courtesy St. Stephen's Youth Programs
Photo courtesy St. Stephen's Youth Programs  

Submitted by St. Sephen's Youth Programs Organizing Team

Be a community leader for excellent public schools

Northeastern University students and community organizers invited over 100 K-12 students and their parents from St. Stephen's Youth Programs to spend time on their campus and learn about Boston's PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) program.

During the field trip, students had opportunities to envision what their dream schools would look like, drawing ideas from film programs to sports to cafeterias and other standard elements of a school that many of their own schools lack. Students shared about books they would like to see at their schools and what their dream future jobs could be, and parents shared hopes they had for their children.

Along with BPS parents and Northeastern students, they wrote letters to the president of Northeastern asking him to pay the full 2018 PILOT as well as the unpaid PILOT assessment for the last several years. Ekran Sharif, 18, a Boston high school student, said "My school is basically on Northeastern's campus and we can see new buildings going up all the time. Northeastern is a school too, they should care about Boston Public Schools having enough money to educate their students well enough to attend Northeastern someday, but we don't even have a cafeteria. We are calling on them to do the right thing by paying their full PILOT tax."

According to the PILOT Action Group, "The current Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program, beginning in 2012, covers 49 large nonprofit institutions with assessed property value of over $15 Million.

Nonprofits are expected to pay 25% of their potential property taxes based on their 2010 tax assessment. Institutions can and do offset 50% of their payment with a "community benefit" that is supposed to target residents of the city. However, over $77 million of the requested PILOT contributions have been left unpaid, primarily by four universities: Northeastern, Boston College, Harvard, and Boston University."

From FY2012-FY2017, Northeastern has failed to pay over $13 million in PILOT contributions. Northeastern just finished construction of a new $225 million science and engineering complex, while still finishing FY2017 with a surplus of over $66 million. In Boston, 70% of city income comes from property taxes, so a program like PILOT can have a huge impact in contributing to the city.

St. Stephen's Youth Programs as part of the PILOT coalition shares a deep appreciation for Northeastern University's commitment to contributing to local communities and excitement around the support that they have shown in the past.

They hope to see Northeastern continue to be a leader in Boston by committing to paying their full PILOT assessment. Students expressed awe at the facilities at Northeastern University's state-of-the-art campus and are hopeful about the possibilities the future could hold for their schools if Northeastern and other universities pay their PILOT commitment.

St. Stephen's Youth Programs promotes equity in education, employment and opportunity through long-term relationships with young people and their families and communities. For more information visit www.ssypboston.org.

Photo courtesy St. Stephen's Youth Programs  

Photo courtesy St. Stephen's Youth Programs