Petition: Our Students and Schools Need More Funding, Not Cuts

DC Public Schools is forcing schools to cut staff for the 2021-22 school year, the first year of recovery after more than one year of disrupted learning due to Covid-19. Education councils in Wards 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, and ANC Commissioners initiated this petition to demand that the city maintain the current staffing levels at all DCPS schools for the upcoming school year AND increase funding in schools serving students most impacted by the pandemic. Please consider signing this and sharing with your networks.

Sign the petition here.


To: DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Chairman of the DC Council, Phil Mendelson, DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee

From: The Education Councils of Wards 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8

DC Public Schools is forcing schools to cut staff for the 2021-22 school year, the first year of recovery after more than one year of disrupted learning due to Covid-19. We, as parents, teachers, and community members across DC demand that the city maintain current staffing levels for the upcoming school year to support recovery. DC must also invest more in schools in under-resourced areas to address the disproportionate impacts of Covid-19.

51% of DCPS schools lost staff positions for the 2021-22 school year in their initial budgets (and relative to pre-pandemic budgets) according to local budget expert, Mary Levy. These staffing cuts cannot be explained by lower student enrollments. Schools face staffing cuts for a number of reasons each year, including increases in staffing costs.

Meanwhile, DCPS is expecting to receive from the American Rescue Plan around $275 million in stimulus funding to support schools in recovering from the multilayered impacts of the pandemic. These federal funds can be used for “activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services … and to employ existing staff.” While DCPS could use these federal funds for any purpose – including to fund staff and develop a multi-year staffing plan – DCPS instead chooses not to do so. In addition, the DC government reported a $500M surplus in its own 2020 budget, reducing budget pressure for the city.

The city must do better to meet the needs of all students, given that staffing cuts will be felt most heavily in schools that are already under-resourced. In addition, lack of supplemental investment in education at this critical time will exacerbate the unacceptably large gaps in learning by student race and income. We ask that you fund DCPS schools for recovery:

  • Schools need more staff, not less, to address learning needs. Schools with fewer staff cannot provide the same level of targeted supports when the academic needs of some students have increased due to the pandemic. Funds promised for summer and afterschool programs must not be considered replacements for instructional staff during regular school days.
  • Schools will need more staff to adhere to health and safety guidelines, continue to provide virtual options, and offer in-person learning to more students. Fewer school staff puts many schools at risk of not having adequate resources to serve all students and re-open safely.
  • Schools need additional support to address whole-child needs. Mental health support for students continues to be the most highly demanded request in the city, and the pandemic has exacerbated this need. It is particularly short-sighted and imprudent to cut existing school staff before we have a solid handle on all the mental health, socio-emotional, and academic needs that students will face as in-person learning increases and virtual learning continues to evolve.

DCPS parent L.D. Parker recently said it best: “We are literally being asked to choose where to fail our children.” For the sake of students, we ask that you increase funding for DCPS school budgets NOW to maintain current staffing levels and address increased needs. Time is critical, as schools and staff are currently making employment decisions.

Sign the petition here.

Sponsors:
Ward 2 Education Council
Ward 3 Wilson Feeder Education Network
Ward 4 Education Alliance
Ward 5 Education Equity Committee
Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization
Ward 7 Education Council
Ward 8 Education Council

Layla Bonnot, 1A01
Christine Miller, 1A05
Judson Wood, 1A06
Jason Clock, 1A12
Lisa Gore, 3G01
Evan Yeats, 4B01
Erin Palmer, 4B02
Tiffani Nichole Johnson, 4B06
Colleen Costello, 5B05
Robb Dooling, 6A06
Dorothy Douglas, 7D03

CC:
Councilmember Charles Allen
Councilmember Anita Bonds
Councilmember Mary Cheh
Councilmember Janeese Lewis George
Councilmember Vincent Gray
Councilmember Christina Henderson
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie
Councilmember Brianne Nadeau
Councilmember Brooke Pinto
Councilmember Elissa Silverman
Councilmember Robert White Jr.
Councilmember Trayon White Sr.

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