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Cathy Reilly Testimony – DC Council – Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2020

Testimony on the Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2020 – November 13, 2020

My name is Cathy Reilly, the executive director of the Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators, a member of C4DC. I am also a part of the Ward 4 Ed Alliance. Thank you for this opportunity to testify on the District’s Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2020, Educational Facilities Plan Amendment. 

DCPS by right public schools offer environmental and other social benefits for green space, storm water management, recreation, social cohesion, and even political franchise.  This comp plan can acknowledge that publicly owned, governed and managed properties bring the full education, social, recreation, and environmental benefits to communities.  It can establish that the key priority in the next decade is to ensure an excellent matter-of-right path from PK through high school in every community as it notes in 1200.3.

The plan states in section 1202.1 that DCPS is responsible for educating Washington DC’s children and provides a school of right for every compulsory age child.  The Comp plan can protect and provide a roadmap for DCPS to be able to fulfil that responsibility. 

In order to Strongly support the goal of making neighborhood schools an appealing school of choice, where students’ academic and personal achievements are nurtured, so that children do not have to travel long distances across the District “ as noted in 1204.10: 

The plan:

  • Should recommend maintaining public inventory with shorter leases in order to retain the ability to expand if necessary to fulfill the DCPS core responsibility.  DCPS has transferred 39 buildings to private ownership or long term rental agreements with charter schools. There is excess capacity of at least 22,000 seats across both sectors.  The City can no longer afford to expand specialty and charter enrollments creating greater inefficiency in its land use and in budget priorities. We can prioritize providing program and fill our existing seats.  (omit 1208.15)
  • Should limit co-location to within a sector. The recommendation for charter schools to co-locate in DCPS buildings essentially caps and limits DCPS enrollment making it more difficult to meet its responsibility .  (amend 1203.4, 1203.9)
  • Should prioritize and protect the green space, playgrounds and athletic facilities our publicly owned schools have for posterity. (additional language)
  • Should complete the modernization of DCPS schools as part of the city’s infrastructure by a date certain.  (additional language in 1204.2)

Much of the data and information are out of date and the Council will need to figure out how to address this. A major inaccuracy is that the DME did not do an educational facilities master plan–just study–and the “plan elements” of the study were rejected by the Council. The repeated praise for and inclusion of this 2018MFP plan should be reconsidered and amended or omitted. 

Thank you and I look forward to working with you on this going forward. 

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