Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Betsy Wolf, and I will have 3 kids at Amidon-Bowen next year. I wasn’t the only Amidon-Bowen parent signed up to testify today, but I’m the only one who can make it given work commitments. I want to start by noting that holding the hearings during the work day is difficult for most parents to attend, and only parents with the most flexible work schedules can be here.
In the FY24 DCPS budget, Amidon-Bowen saw a slight increase, and after facing staffing cuts for many consecutive years, we are grateful and relieved. But we also recognize that the allocated resources are not enough.
First, DCPS adds a new program each year that requires our staff to do more. Last year, it was a new CES (autism) program when we did not have a single staff member trained in that area. This year, it is the construction of a new daycare center at the school which was not done in collaboration with the community. This new center requires more work and oversight for school administration, as well as more work for unpaid parent volunteers who are now tasked with locking and unlocking the playground on the weekends and trying to hold DCPS accountable. We need to move away from the model of DCPS and the city doing things TO school communities and towards a model where the city works WITH the school community to make things better.
Second, many of our students are still dealing with trauma in the aftermath of covid-19. The school is doing the best they can with what they have, but there is still a need that is not being met, which has real and multi-year consequences for the school.
Third, there is continued and critical need to focus on the whole child, instead of just focusing on programs that improve test scores. Amidon-Bowen is a wonderful place for this, with a robust sports and music program led by veteran teachers, and the opportunity to participate in FRESHFARM FoodPrints. Years ago, parents at Amidon-Bowen wanted their children to be able to participate in FoodPrints, but we couldn’t afford it because the PTA could not cover the cost. We ask that the city continue to provide funding for FoodPrints to allow equitable access to the program. My eldest child has been nagging me to make one of the FoodPrints recipes, and my second child smuggles fresh vegetables home in her bookbag. I take these signs to mean that the program is working.
In summary, it’s great that we didn’t have our FY24 budget slashed. Yet we’re still got a long way to go. Last spring, about one in five of our 3rd-5th grade students scored proficient on the PARCC in English language arts, and only one in ten in math. This doesn’t mean the school is failing or underperforming – on the contrary, the school works hard to improve student learning and enhance student well-being. But there are so many inequities baked into the system that affect student achievement. We need to recognize that, and allocate resources accordingly.