Sandra Moscoso Testimony – DC Public Schools Budget Oversight Hearing – March 29, 2019

Committee on Whole and Education

Budget Oversight Hearing of the District of Columbia Public Schools

 Friday, March 29, 2019

Good morning Chairmen and Councilmembers. I am Sandra Moscoso, a parent of students enrolled in Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, and School Without Walls. I am also a former BASIS DC charter parent. I share this with you, because like many D.C. families, including those waking up to school lottery results today, mine is a “Cross-Sector” family.

I am happy we have become self-aware about equity in DC and commend Council for supporting legislation which begins to make funding decisions based on data and evidence. It’s time to evolve further and not let politics or fear of the well-funded education lobby stand in the way of students getting the resources they deserve.

I believe we can do this by taking a comprehensive approach to education planning – parents want this and will support you.

1.9 billion goes to fund public schools. How many students rely on public schools? How many schools are we funding? Are we making the most of limited dollars? Why is it every year, we can’t we seem to make schools whole?

I compared OSSE’s #s of overall 2019 enrollment with that of 2012.

  • Our student enrollment has grown by 22%
  • Our charter and DCPS school inventory has grown by 33% in that time

A study for the DME as part of the 2018 Master Facilities Plan revealed there are 22,000 vacant seats across DCPS and charter schools – that’s 20% under-utilization. 22,000 empty seats, yet here are 170 witnesses telling you our schools are underfunded.

Couldn’t we begin to resolve this by committing to take a sensible approach to planning, so that every school where students sit today is adequately funded? I think about the lack of coordination across DCPS and DCPCSB and wonder: if we owned more cars than we could maintain, our solution would not be to buy more cars.

Looking back at the DME study, I was struck by how the recommendations seemed so common sense.

  • Utilize current educational space in the best ways possible
  • Retain educational space for educational purposes
  • Grow access to space for educational purpose
  • Review enrollment policies to manage utilization
  • Streamline planning processes, data collection and knowledge sharing

I go back to this study because although we are here to discuss DCPS’ operational budget, we cannot detach the teachers, staff, and materials required to educate students from the fact that we have chosen to open buildings, staff schools, and enroll students without a comprehensive strategy in mind. Without strategy and planning, we will continue to hurt our existing charter and DC public schools and will continue to underfund them.

We are in a unique position with the attention of the whole Council focused on education. It’s an opportunity to truly support every one of those 94,000 students enrolled in our schools today and sensibly, strategically plan for the 108,000 students projected to be enrolled in our schools 10 years from now.

And one more thing. School librarians are set to suffer a 10% cut across schools. School libraries are linked to improved standardized reading scores. DCPS’ literacy strategy includes in-class libraries and partnerships with DPL, yet somehow, we continue to forget the impact qualified librarians bring to a school. We went through this 6 years ago, concluded that we believed in evidence and data, and restored funding for DCPS librarians. There are a million reasons to support school libraries, but please do not take my word for it. I’ve attached a factsheet and links to a number of school library impact studies in this testimony. Please protect this funding.

Thank you for your time.

Enrollment/school inventory source:

  • Of school with enrollment of 131+* students, 227 DCPS+Charter in 2019, 170 schools in 2012. (*131 – the lowest enrollment in a DCPS was used as minimum enrollment cutoff for this exercise).
  • ~ 94,000 students are enrolled DCPS + Charter 2019; ~76,000 enrolled in 2012.

School Librarian Impact Sources:


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