DC Public Schools FY15 Budget Hearing Testimony by Danica Petroshius – CHML

Thank you Mayor Gray, Deputy Mayor Smith and Superintendent Aguirre for holding this important hearing.

I am Danica Petroshius, President of the Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan PTSO and parent of two children at the school – one in Kindergarten and one in preschool 3. I am here, like Khai, because we want to work in partnership with you to build a great DCPS middle grades education campus.

In January 2013, DCPS announced that CHML would expand to include the middle grades starting in August 2014. That helped us keep families in our school for 5th and 6th grades – families that would have otherwise left for other middle schools. Unfortunately, ten months after that announcement, DCPS had provided no resources to make the expansion a reality.

Therefore, in November 2013, we sent letters to Mayor Gray and Chancellor Henderson, held initial meetings with John McGaw and, later with John Davis, to detail our community’s needs. Unfortunately, prior to hearing any responses, we were stunned to read in the Washington Post that CHML was cut in the budget reprogramming. We were further disappointed to receive Mr. McGaw’s email stating that “modest improvements… should suffice until a stronger enrollment is built for the middle grades.”  We feel we are being told, “if you come, we might build it.”

We got some good news this week – our principal says that DCPS has provided a strong operational budget that will allow us to have the personnel and some of the learning materials to kick off our middle grades expansion. Thank you.

But the fact remains that parents and students will be angry and shocked if there is nothing to come to. We need more than a few upgrades to toilets. We need a strong, welcoming middle grades learning environment.

When you approved a middle grades expansion, we parents began working in partnership with our principal, teachers and other stakeholders to prepare for the middle school expansion. We implemented teacher recruitment strategies, created architectural site plans, executed a plan to retain current families and recruit new ones. And as Khai mentioned it worked – our lottery numbers are high which is remarkable given that we don’t even have a place to for them to envision their children learning.

As you know, we parents can be demanding and outspoken. I’m a “Type-A” handful for any principal. Our Principal, Brandon Eatman, has been a great and patient leader. But our parents are losing faith in the system that he says we should support. We stand ready to support our principal as he leads our expansion effort. But he and our students need your support to make this promise a reality.

We ask that you provide the $1 million in capital funding we requested in November to turn our empty, preschool-sized, temporary trailer into a vibrant middle grades learning environment. Please don’t set us up to fail. Instead, do what is necessary to give our school community the confidence that our leaders stand with, and for, our children. Thank you for the opportunity to testify.


Testimony of Danica Petroshius, Parent and President of the

Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan Education Campus PTSO

March 20, 2014


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