Good evening, Chancellor Ferebee, DCPS staff and leadership, parents and students and participants of this DCPS Budget engagement process. My name is Tommie Jones, and I am proud CHML parent of a rising first grade scholar. I am the new chair of our LSAT and am committed to supporting CHML for years to come.
My wife Monica and I are proud DC residents and reside in the Hillcrest community of Ward 7. Three years ago, we did what so many PK-3 parents do and that is research the best elementary schools for our kids, enroll our kids in the DC school lottery and hope our kid gets into the best school community that meet his or her needs.
Luckily for us we got a DCPS school. As products of public education, we are committed to supporting our son’s education here in DC Public Schools. We have made it our priority to be involved in our son’s school communities. Both of us have served on his schools PTO boards, been classroom parents and have even served on DCPS parent boards. So, for the Jones family—we DCPS proud and are all in for our son and his school having whatever they need to learn and be successful.
Tonight, before I begin, I would like to introduce my LSAT parent colleagues Tim Abdalla and Danica Petroshius. Both Tim and Danica have been involved in our school community for many years. They both have been apart of this budget process and can speak in more details about the needs of our school community and about the lack of clear, concise and transparency around our school budget.
As part of my testimony, I have three central budget items that need to be corrected for our school community:
1. Maintain our enrollment numbers over 400+ students and properly fund our school with the needed resource as an education campus that reflects both the elementary and middle school student we serve
For the past few years, we have seen that DCPS has projected our school enrollment under 400 students. This projection has been wrong, caused challenges for our school community and was an unrealistic number of students served at the students served. Furthermore, this under enrollment project has hampered our base funding, decreased the number of teachers we can hire and has made it more challenging for our young people to have the kind of school experiences that they deserve. You will notice for example our school FY23 enrollment project was based at 396 students and to date we have 423 students and growing with a waiting list of families interested in Montessori education for their children.
2. Right size our school budget to reflect our growth, need and education mission.
My colleagues Tim and Danica will both elaborate more on the true budget shortfall we are experiencing at our school.
But let’s put this in prospective—our school budget if based on our current enrollment and the DCPS formula that is on your website is one million dollars short and 8-10 positions.
What we know is our students in PK-3 to the eighth grade have a limited number of specialty courses such as music and the arts. We also know that these same teachers teach multiple grades, students and are stretched thin serving all students in the school.
3. Budget Process and Transparency
As a new LSAT leader I am challenged by how this budget process is conducted. As parents we are eager to support our schools and are asking for your help to make are schools’ budget easy to read, reflect true student enrollment and need for our school.
In closing, thank you for the opportunity to testify today at this budget hearing. I am eager to see who the testimonies received today we will reflect in the upcoming FY24 budget.