Rebecca Reina and Emily Gasoi Testimony – DCPS SY2021 Budget Hearing

Joint testimony of

Rebecca Reina, Chair of the Ward 1 Education Council and

Emily Gasoi, State Board of Education, Ward 1 Representative

to the District of Columbus Public Schools Public Budget Hearing

Maury Elementary School

Tuesday, October, 29, 2019

I am Becky Reina, Chair of the Ward 1 Education Council. Our Education Council is a volunteer organization that brings together parents, educators, students, and community members to share information and to advocate for a stronger public education system that supports all our students and families, while ensuring we safeguard our by-right neighborhood schools and work for greater resources, equity, transparency, fairness, and safety across both public educational sectors. Thank you for this opportunity to testify on the DCPS budget. I am sharing this testimony with Emily Gasoi, the Ward 1 Representative on the State Board of Education. She will take up where I end today.

DCPS schools in Ward 1, like DCPS schools throughout the city, are struggling with their yearly budgets:

At the Ward 1 Education Council meeting in March, we asked for a show of hands from DCPS stakeholders whose schools were losing one or more staff position due to inadequate funding in their SY19-20 budget. Reps from ten of the twelve DCPS schools in attendance raised their hands (not all of them Ward 1 schools).

Cleveland, a Title 1 elementary school serving 310 students, 21% ELL and 51% At-Risk, does not have a general reading interventionist and has only two special education teachers to serve the entire school.

H.D. Cooke, a Title 1 elementary school serving 395 students, 46% ELL and 58% At-Risk, struggles to provide appropriate supports for its many English Language Learners.

Tubman, a Title 1 elementary school serving 566 students, 53% ELL and 63% At-Risk, lost eight positions going into this school year, despite an enrollment increase. Tubman was projected to have 534 students this fall and funded for that level, although enrollment has not been under 550 in years.

Bancroft ES was unable to cover the cost for two early childhood intervention staff positions in their initial budget. Bancroft is a Dual-Language school serving 550 students, 56% ELL and 35% At Risk.

CHEC, one of the largest schools in the city and a Title 1 educational campus serving 1,210 students, 35% ELL and 65% At Risk, sees its per-pupil funding go down each year. A CHEC staffer emailed: “If we can’t right-size our budget, we are looking at cutting 2 staff members and we won’t be able to hire the social worker and other essential support staff we so desperately need.”  He went on to explain that this will mean increasing class sizes for ELL students who need more, not less individualized attention. This will mean that the school’s one middle school social worker who last year was managing 7+ homeless referrals, 40 PGT referrals, 15 504 cases, 21 IEP cases and has administered 80 special education eligibility assessments, will continue to be stretched dangerously thin. And it will mean that some of our city’s most vulnerable students will continue to have referral wait times of 8 to 10 weeks to see a school-based therapist.

Cardozo EC, a 6th through 12th grade campus of 757 students, 44% ELL and 83% At-Risk, must figure out how to staff multiple, distinct programs with largely inflexible budgeting, while their International Academy student population falls precipitously – which is no surprise given the current national climate – and its 9th and 10th grade mainstream classes simultaneously swell.

Schools struggle with their operating budgets as well:

The Cardozo community alerted us to the fact that all DCPS schools must deal with a purchasing freeze period lasting over a month from late September to early November every year. While the budget office’s reasons vary yearly – this year it is Central Office staffing – the yearly Student Activities Fund and P Card freeze and the budget office’s unresponsiveness does not vary.

School facilities maintenance is inadequate:

Tubman has been waiting for an HVAC renovation and roof repair for three years.

Although Cardozo’s building is managed by RDW Consulting, neither DGS nor RDW responds to maintenance requests in a timely manner. Door locks and elevators remain broken.

Playground repairs requested by Cleveland last school year remain unfinished.

Lead abatement of pour-in-place playground surfaces remain unresolved throughout the city.

Holes remain in the Capital Improvements Plan:

Washington Metropolitan, the last unmodernized DCPS high school, has been dropped from the CIP without clarity on the future of that program.

Anna Beers Elementary School in Ward 7 is not in the Capital budget.

An additional Ward 7 middle school needs to be opened to feed Woodson HS and strengthen that feeder pattern.

Shaw Middle School at 800 Euclid St NW, needs to be added to the CIP to strengthen the Cardozo feeder pattern, improve DCPS middle grade programming, and continue the very strong DCPS enrollment gains in Ward 4 and alleviate crowding and impending crowding surrounding Ward 1 at Deal, Hardy, School Without Walls at Francis Stevens, and MacFarland Middle Schools.

Additionally, the Banneker HS modernization should not include a football field. That school and neighborhood communities both far prefer a track.

//

Emily Gasoi will provide suggestions to these issues when she finishes this testimony.  Thank you.

//

My name is Emily Gasoi and I am the Ward 1 Representative on the State Board of Education. As W1EC chair Becky Reina explained, I will pick up our testimony where she left off to discuss some of the broader issues underlying individual school struggles and to offer some solutions:

To start, there are several now predictable practices that cause general budget instability for our schools, making it difficult for them to invest the time and thought that budgeting decisions require.

  1. Last school year’s late release of school budgets and the unreasonably short turnaround time schools had to return them was not conducive to thoughtful decision-making for any leadership team. But especially for schools with budgets that do not adequately cover costs, having to rush decisions about which positions to cut is detrimental to student learning and to the morale of the entire school community. Of course, a greater effort should be made to get budgets to schools on time. But when they are late, school leaders have advised me that they need a minimum of two weeks to fully review them with their teams and make the best decisions for their school communities.
  1. That said, schools might not need as much time to turn their budgets around if the budgeting process were more stable and predictable. Starting from zero each year while relying on imperfect enrollment projection methods has led to an unhealthy level of instability for schools. The city school count day is in October, even as there is predictable student mobility, mostly from Charters to DCPS schools, throughout the school year. This handcuffs DCPS’s systemwide budget from the city, inadequately providing for our schools of right, but it need not be directly reflected in DCPS individual school budgets. We recommend using different enrollment projections can be used for different purposes and the internal enrollment projections used to fund our schools of right must be improved.

 

  1. While all types of schools are impacted by such budget instability, as Becky pointed out in her testimony about CHEC and several of our elementaries serving fewer than 500 students the CSM is most predictably harmful to our largest and smallest schools. In fact, we have learned that one of the few things that large schools like CHEC and small schools like Cleveland ES can count on when it comes to their annual budgets is that funding will not adequately cover their basic staffing costs. This predictable inadequacy in our budgeting process needs to be addressed.

We know DCPS is evaluating whether to move away from the CSM. Before we throw out this admittedly imperfect funding model, we should first try to fully fund our DCPS schools, which would include taking some of the following steps:

  • The UPSFF should be raised to keep pace with rising costs, in line with the city’s past adequacy study, which according to DC FPI would require an 8% increase.
  • At minimum, the CSM should be followed, with each school receiving the promised baseline, and it should be retooled to provide differentiated supports for our largest and smallest schools.
  • At-Risk funds should supplement funds for core school functions, not be used to supplant them.
  • Stabilization funds should be correctly allocated, and not gamed by adding new costs into individual school budgets.

I  would like to add that many Ward 1 schools offer Specialty programming – including but not limited to dual language, international baccalaureate, and International Academies – and should therefore receive additional funding.  Specialty programming requires program coordinator staff, trainings, and materials, all of which cost money which school leaders should not be forced to steal from funding core school functions.

Finally, as with most everything education-related, this is an equity issue. While a majority of Ward 1 schools have to haggle each year or “get creative” with their budgets, our sister schools in Wards 7 and 8 were hit hardest in the budgets for FY20. Schools east of the river are more likely to have declining enrollment and to be forced to absorb the most significant budget reductions — which directly impacts their ability to serve their remaining student population and to attract more students, thus leading them to enter a “death spiral.”

A system in which there are winners and losers is not, and never will be, an equitable system. When problems are predictable as all of these budget issues are, there is no excuse to continue on with business as usual. Additionally, while DCPS teachers’ salaries look very generous when viewed in a vacuum, when adjusted for DC’s cost of living, our salaries fall squarely in the middle of the pack nationally.  Those salaries should never be used as an excuse for inadequately funding the education of our children. It’s time to make the changes necessary to bring stability and equity to our funding process so that all our schools, from Ward 1 to Ward 8 are fully and fairly funded.

Thank you.

 

Laura Fuchs Testimony – DCPS SY2021 Budget Hearing

DC Public Schools Budget Testimony:

Laura Fuchs, Teacher, HD Woodson HS, Chair of the Washington Teacher’s Union’s Committee on Political Education, WTU Recording Secretary, Executive Board Member of Ward 7 Education Council, Executive Board Member of Empower DC and member of LSAT of HD Woodson HS, Ward 5 Resident

Delivered: Tuesday, October 29, 2019

My name is Laura Fuchs, and I am in my 13th year teaching at HD Woodson SHS. Today I would like to focus on highlighting the budget where it concerns serving the needs of our Special Education students. Because our schools are budgeted based on projected enrollment we know that the system will not be perfect. The students we serve in Ward 7 are highly mobile and are often going through a lot that can cause them to move from school to school. This year our school is already over 67 students beyond our overall projected enrollment, and our special education population appears to have a similar percentage over-enrolled. When it comes to special education the challenges deepen because we also do not know in advance what programs nor how many hours of services our students will need in order to fulfill their IEPs. This year HD Woodson has seen a noticeable uptick in the total number of hours required on the IEPs (i.e., we usually used to see 10 hours and now are seeing 15).

We accept that DCPS cannot predict with 100% accuracy who will walk through the doors in August each year. But DCPS needs to be better prepared and more flexible to guarantee that our schools will have the teachers, services, and personnel required to meet the IEPs of our students when they do arrive. To that end, I want to suggest that we end the practice of “Mutual Consent” that Michelle Rhee bargained for in 2009. If we allow excessed teachers, who have good evaluation scores, to stay in a “pool” of available teachers, they can then be placed at a school immediately when a need arises. Currently the system severs them from the system if they don’t find a job at the end of the summer, making them unavailable to hire at all! Then, if a school has more students than they predicted, or the students have more hours, or we need an additional staff member for a particular program, that need can be met as fast as possible so our students don’t get negatively affected. On top of that, if we run out of teachers from that pool we can then pull from existing central office staff, who should be required to keep up their teaching licensure, so that they are serving kids directly rather than doing who knows what in an over-bloated administrative black hole.

Next we need to bring back the Special Education Coordinator to the Comprehensive Staffing Model funding formula for any school that has over a certain percentage and/or number of special education students. I won’t claim to be the expert on what the threshold should fairly be, but the fact is that a school like HD Woodson, where close to 30% of the population on any given year is receiving special education services, a Special Education Coordinator is not optional staffing. We do not receive enough discretionary funds to afford it, and we lost our position in this past year. That is not acceptable.

Furthermore, DCPS needs to better indicate what funds are Special Education funds and can only be spent in that department both as incoming funds and then as how we spend them. It should be broken down clearly how those funds were calculated, what programs they are to be used for, etcetera, so that our teachers and coordinator can verify that they are correct. Having served in LSATs for the past 10 years, I can attest that it is often very confusing as to where the money is coming from and if we are correctly spending it, and that often appears to lead to our school not getting adequate general funds and then compensating for them with special education funds, like what was happening with At-Risk Funds. This is a potential massive lawsuit that could be avoided with increased transparency and training for our LSATs.

When it comes to calculating what funds our local schools should get they should be based on special education teachers automatically getting 2 planning periods per day – one for academic planning and one for case management. Caseloads should be based on the amount of hours and work it will take to service the IEP, not simply total number of students, it should be made clear how that is being calculated so that our school can use them appropriately. DCPS should work with our teams in advance to learn how difficult it can be to service all our students and then staff and fund the programs appropriately so that we are set up to be successful.

It is our moral duty to service our students with special education needs. We must set up our schools to be successful but adequately funding and staffing them. Anything less is unacceptable.

Status

Connect on DCPS Chancellor: DC Council Public Rountables and Acting Chancellor Meet and Greets

Chancellor Confirmation Public Roundtables:

DC Council’s Committee of the Whole and Education will host a series of Public Roundtables on Chancellor of DC Public Schools Resolution of Confirmation on:

  • Wednesday, January 30, 6:00pm
  • Wednesday, February 6, 6:00pm
  • Tuesday, February 12, 11:00am

Visit http://www.davidgrosso.org/education-committee/ for details and register to testify here.

Acting Chancellor Meet and Greets:

DCPS’s Acting Chancellor Ferebee will host a Ward 6 meet and greet on Friday, March 29, 8-9:30 am @ The Pretzel Bakery (257 15th St., SE – near Payne Elementary School!).

Screenshot 2019-02-25 21.18.29

Status

CHPSPO Meeting Notes– February 20, 2018

Stuart Hobson Middle School, 410 E St., NE
February 20, 2018, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Mission Statement – To promote cooperation among the parent organizations of the public schools [in Ward 6] in order to improve the education received by all children attending our schools.

Overview of the DC Council Performance Oversight and Budget Hearings –

Laura Marks, Chief of Staff, Councilmember Allen and Anne Phelps Budget Counsel at Office of Budget Director shared a presentation with key budget facts, timeline, and key advocacy opportunities/dates. Please review the FY19 Education Budget Process – CHPSPO Presentation for details.

About the budget: Important to note, the budget is a finite amount. Operating budget (recurring costs like payroll, goods, services) is planned for 4 years (must be sustained for 4 years). Capital budget (one-time, more limited spending like facilities) is allocated annually.

About education budget: Enrollment projections have huge impact on school level budgets

  • Really important to get these #s right, but they are often off
  • Per Pupil Funding applies to DCPS and charter; also takes into account special needs

Education is underfunded. For example, for FY18’s budget OSSE recommended 3.5% increase for FY18. The Mayor’s budget office proposed 1.5%, Council passed 3%. ***If PPF increase this year is <3%, will be tough to fund operating budget; keep programming***

It’s important to engage in Budget forums and hearings not only to bring visibility to specific issues, but to learn about other priorities. When testifying, bring written copies: Councilmembers and staff write notes/qs on testimony.

Ward 6 School Facilities Tour – Joe Weedon, State Board of Education

Joe Weedon to organize on behalf of PTAs a tour of schools to identify potential problems and critical things that need to be implemented between now and when schools are slated to be renovated.

CHPSPO Strategic Planning Meeting – Danica Petroshius and Suzy Glucksman

To enhance our efforts to develop common goals, facilitate collaboration, and drive real change among public schools in Ward 6, to improve the education received by all children, the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization (CHPSPO) is engaging the DC education community in a strategic planning process.

All CHPSPO members, as well as families, principals, and engaged community members are invited to participate in this strategic planning (working) meeting where we plan to develop long-term and short-term priorities for our work supporting Ward 6 schools.

https://chpspo.org/2018/02/13/join-chpspos-strategic-planning-feb-24/

Bike-to-School Day Planning – Sandra Moscoso-Mills

Bike to School Day is Weds, May 9. CHPSPO organizes a ‘party’ at Lincoln Park, where families from all nearby schools meetup, socialize, grab a snack, engage in activities, and join bike trains and walking groups to get to school ON TIME! Learn about the national efforts at http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/.

Please reach out to Sandra to if you’re interested in helping identify local and national speakers, organize activities, invite city partners (DC Water, DCPS, WABA, bike shops, etc), and help get the word out at your school.

  • JO Wilson Cheerleaders to perform

Chancellor’s Parent Cabinet – Heather Schoell

Meet periodically and have broken out into issue-based groups of Middle School, Budget, College and Career. DCPS central offers a lot of programming, but not doing a good job communicating to families.

Find background and meeting notes, here: https://dcps.dc.gov/page/chancellor%E2%80%99s-parent-cabinet-sy-2017-2018-cabinet-priorities-and-updates

Other advisory committees shared by the group include

  • Global education advisory group (both Heather Schoell (Eliot-Hine and Eastern parent) and Stefany Thangavelu (Maury parent) serve on Global Ed Advisory Group)
  • Public Spaces advisory group

More on Boards and Commissions: https://mota.dc.gov/page/boards-commissions-and-task-forces-district-government

New Chancellor – Group Discussion

Ideas for engaging raised: engage in process for finding replacement; relay shortcomings from last experience; Are there changes we should push for vis a vis governance, particularly regarding the role of the State Board of Education.

ACTION: Draft letter to Mayor articulating issues raised during meeting.

——

Next CHPSPO Meeting: March 20, 2018

Upcoming Events

DC Council Performance Oversight and Budget Hearings

  • Wednesday, February 21, DCPS Performance Oversight Hearing, public witnesses, 10 am (Wilson Building)
  • Wednesday, March 28, DCPS Budget Hearing, public witnesses, 10 am (Wilson Building)
  • Thursday, April 19, DCPS Budget Hearing, public witnesses (Wilson Building)

Cross Sector Collaboration Task Force Focus Groups

  • Tuesday, March 13, 6 – 7:30 pm, Columbia Heights Educational Campus (3101 16th St., NW)
  • Wednesday, March 21, 7 – 8:30 pm, Thurgood Marshall PCS (2427 Martin Luther King Ave., SE)

CHPSPO Strategic Planning Meeting – Saturday, February 24, 9:30 am – 1 pm, Northeast Library (7th & Maryland Avenue, NE)

Status

CHPSP Meeting Notes– January 16, 2018

Brent Elementary School, January 16, 2018, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

 

Michelle Edwards, Executive Director of Learn It, Live It, Love It gave a great presentation. Her non-profit organization partners with DCPS Title I schools to bring structured, standards-aligned field trips experiences to students leveraging the museums and organizations in DC and the surrounding areas. She encourages schools and families to reach out to her if you are interested in learning more, contact Michelle at edwards@liveitlearnit.org. You can learn more about the organization at www.liveitlearnit.org.

Gene Pinkard, Chief, School Design and Continuous Improvement joined for a discussion about issues of interest to CHPSPO members. He started off with a brief introduction of his office. His office is new since June 2017 and is focused on the following:

  • Enrollment and Enrollment Growth
  • School Performance
  • Innovation and School Design

Their core question to address is: what is going to make DCPS a world-class district?

The discussion moved to questions from attendees:

Question: The Public Charter School Board analysis on charter programs, need and growth, encourages charter school applicants to consider opening Montessori, language immersion, and schools in Ward 6 (calling it a “green zone”). Yet DCPS has those schools already in Ward 6 –  why is DCPS not targeting or supporting that kind of growth? Is DCPS thinking about these kinds of things?

Answer: Chancellor Wilson has made it clear he is not a fan of wait lists; he wants to focus on the need for making the space bigger or replicate programs in other places. So, Gene’s office is thinking more about how we connect successful programs to schools or communities that want and need them. Some examples could be:

  • Bruce Jackson Miner Principal and LSAT want to talk about some additional programming and working to decide what is best for the students today and the future.
  • Looking at enrollment growth and facilities is a key aspect – and we need to have smart solutions to that – even potentially serving students with partners.
  • Think about the equity we create with our students. Opportunities to open high-quality experiences for students including perhaps more citywide programs. Families in DC value diversity and citywide schools may offer that option.

Question: Can you talk about the data you use on citywide programs? In DC, being a citywide school does not mean you are a diverse school necessarily.

Answer: The data we used was national data.

Question: Will you communicate short and long-term plans to address growth across school communities? People want to know what is ahead so they know whether they want to also stay and invest in a school instead of leaving for a charter.

Answer: We do need to improve communications, but we are working hard on this area and improving planning. We want to bring more schools into the portfolio so that there are more choices in DCPS; we want to increase capacity to capture demand now and in future; and we want to improve how we communicate about all of it. Need to do more to communicate about all of this

Question: Can you talk more about the role of DCPS in increasing enrollment as this is the first-year enrollment has gone down? And, we encourage more meetings like this one in order to address the gaps between parents and DCPS and to use more of a common language. CHPSPO is about investing in our school particularly neighborhood schools and less about choice; and we know that quality is not just test scores.

Answer. I want to make clear is that test scores are important but don’t define quality. Quality is outlined in the Excellent Schools Framework we are developing. It’s achievement, talent and leadership, culture and climate, equity and engagement.

OSSE has PARCC and test scores tackled in the conversation. We want to also look at formative data and whether a school feels right for my kids and my community. We want to capture what families feel when they are valued and feel safe and welcomed.

Choice and neighborhood schools are not a contradiction. Primary investment has to be in our neighborhood schools. The city is only going to function if its neighborhoods have strong quality schools. So, we are looking at strengthening feeder patterns, culture/climate and other aspects of quality.

Question: Will DCPS support a Challenger Center at Elliot Hine?

Answer: We have mixed thoughts on whether it works, and whether it’s what the community wants. But I want to talk more about it with you offline.

Question: We need to focus on retaining teachers and leadership. But some school leaders are not collaborative and problems with school leadership can fester for a long time. Teachers don’t have a way to give robust feedback on principal performance. There isn’t a safe way for teachers to bring feedback that is taken seriously. Principal evaluation is set up with an incentive to manipulate the system and to encourage fraudulent reporting of data. What is the plan for supporting transparent data, better systems for teachers to report concerns, and for teachers to be an integral part of principal evaluations.

Answer: Yes, everybody in the school community should have a voice in its success. I agree on the general concerns. But we do have some mechanisms – the INSIGHT survey is anonymized and goes to quality of leadership and instructional culture, student/parent surveys. Every school has areas for improvement.

My office checks and collects that data. Principals are half evaluated on outcome data. And they choose other areas they want to be evaluated on – but they can’t control the data.

But, there is more that we can do around principal development. We have a periodic leadership academy – but don’t yet have ongoing, robust support that helps principals become more successful on all aspects of leadership.

On family engagement, we recommend that principal engagement with the LSAT is the norm. That needs to be the expectation and how they are responding.

Comment: Concerns were raised that LSAT is implemented differently in every school and is not enough to garner authentic, robust engagement of families. Need support for principals on family engagement and communications across the board.

Question: Gene asked to the group: what would you like to see as the DCPS response to high demand of a limited number of sites in a geographic region?

Answer from Suzanne: I appreciate the work DCPS has to do in this area is hard. Conversations and communications with our community are key. We have talked about a strategic plan for Ward 6 with Claudia Lujan. The current DCPS strategic plan doesn’t get into details. I’d like to see decisions made on where and when we are going to open x school and expand y program and add program to school x. To do this in a way that will work, we should have citywide and neighborhood conversations.  For example, Historic Miner could be an early childhood center. We should generally have much more project-based learning – ask every school to do more. But we can’t just give our ideas, we need a broader conversation with a plan and a process.

Gene: Claudia, Michael and myself will embark on a portfolio retreat around the composition of the schools itself. We will look at options like a complimentary layer of citywide schools for the next 5-10 years with citywide conversations to ensure equity.  It’s also likely that we need to be more present in communities around what we are doing.

Idea from Erin Roth: Schools need to really market themselves and be slick about it in order to compete with charters that have high marketing budgets it seems. DCPS could help schools with simple communication and marketing tools and templates that would get across the basic mission and messaging statements for each school in a packaged way for parents.

Idea from Sara Carr: I would argue for a little more ad hoc action. Charters will be here in five years with five new Montessori schools. We need quick action and keep our schools and not give up buildings to charters. The long-term planning is needed, but we need action now too.

Caryn Ernst, CHPSPO Member, and Member of the Cross Sector Task Force

Over the course of two years, the Deputy Mayor of Education (DME) has allowed the Task Force to only focus on a small set of areas that would result in little or no push back from DCPS or charters. They are releasing soon a set of recommendations for public input and are releasing meeting dates for feedback.

Generally, they have proposed the following core issues which are generally the right issues:

  • Opening, closing and siting of schools
  • Serving at-risk students
  • Enrollment stability

But within each category the recommendations are very narrow and parents on the Task Force, including Caryn, have concerns the Task Force should recommend more:

Opening, closing and siting of schools

Issue: Charters are opening schools without citywide strategic plan and without community input. Areas with dozens of schools and other areas with dirth of schools. No coordination re: closing schools or siting of schools.

Recommendation: Have a citywide strategic plan on where schools are, where excess capacity is, how are programs spread throughout city, where are achievement levels different, etc. This is a good recommendation however there is no overarching criteria around that nor any requirement that charters abide by it. Charters have said that they will continue to open schools regardless of plan as long as there is one child not achieving at proficient. There has been no pressure put back on the charter board to stop opening schools without the plan. No agreement to put caps on the amount of charters or collaborative planning – they are allowed to open as many as they want whenever.

Issue: On school sitings parents have pushed for community involvement. Currently, charters simply notify an ANC commissioner within a month of the opening of a school and count that as community engagement. They believe that is sufficient.

Issue: The recommendations do not acknowledgement that neighborhood schools and charters are different and should be treated differently around closings. Neighborhood public schools should not be closed based on ESSA metrics/test scores. Yet DME is pushing very hard to replicate what Denver does – when a school scores below a certain level on the quality score, they are closed after 3 years of warning. Then there is a notice to open new schools. Denver however even acknowledges that schools in low-income communities get closed first and that creates churn and that is not good for those communities.

Serving At-Risk Students

Issue: Of the 10-15 recommendations that will be released for input, the vast majority are about promoting school choice. To improve options for at-risk kids, they recommend giving preference in the lottery if you are at-risk. DME data shows this policy would impact less than 1,000 at-risk students which means it’s not a solution. It doesn’t solve the problem of educating at-risk students better. We need to figure out which schools are beating the odds, look at those schools and what they are doing, and then replicate them. The DME refused to do that.

Enrollment Stability

Recommendations to centralize the mobility process are included to address the problems we have now that you can walk out and go to another school, and there is no data or funding transfer and it creates many issues. So, the recommendation is to centralize the mobility data and the parents on the Task Force support that recommendation. But it’s not enough. The recommendation doesn’t address enrollment stability. It helps smooth mobility and data collection, but doesn’t solve it.

Parents recommended (but were rejected) that after October, wait lists be eliminated and the decisions about mobility go to a centralized system so that movement can be distributed evenly. A centralized wait list would increase stability.

The recommendations from the Task Force also include instituting that the funding follows the student if they transfer.

The parents encouraged other parents and community members to attend the meetings and give feedback. (Confirm here, in case of changes –> https://dme.dc.gov/collaboration)

  • School Leader and Principal Focus Group
    • Wednesday, February 7, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm at Capitol View Library (5001 Central Ave SE)
    • Register Here
  • Family and Advocacy Focus Groups
    • Friday, February 9, 9:30 am – 11:00 am at Mt. Pleasant Library (3160 16th St NW)
    • Tuesday, February 13, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at Capitol View Library (5001 Central Ave SE)
    • Register Here
  • Policy Expert Focus Group
    • Wednesday, February 14, 9:30 am – 11:00 am at Shaw Library (1630 7th St NW)
    • Register Here
  • Teacher and School Staff Focus Group
    • Wednesday, February 28, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm at Benning (Dorothy I. Height) Library (3935 Benning Rd NE)
    • Register Here
  • Citywide Meetings
    • Tuesday, March 13, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm (Location TBD)
    • Wednesday, March 21, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm (Location TBD)

 

Upcoming Events

Cross Sector Collaboration Task Force

  • General Meeting: Tuesday, January 30, Education Counsel (101 Constitution Ave, NW, Suite 900)
  • Focus Groups: (see above)

JO Wilson’s 4th Annual DC Summer Camp Fair (http://www.dccampfair.com/)

Thursday, January 25, 6 – 8pm, J.O. Wilson (660 K Street, NE)

CHPSPO Strategic Planning Meeting

Saturday, February 24, 9:30 am – 1 pm, Northeast Library (7th & Maryland Avenue, NE)

 

Next CHPSPO meeting is on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

 

Status

CHPSP Meeting Notes– November 21, 2017

CHPSPO Meeting

Payne Elementary School

November 21, 2017

6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Brent Diversity Working Group & Town Hall Meeting— Alicia Dorsey, Parent at Brent ES

Provided an overview of the diversity working group and recent town hall on the new efforts targeted at closing the achievement gap at Brent ES. The parent-driven working group started as a way to address concerns around the racial dynamics and inequities at the school. The group determined that an initial focus would be on closing the achievement gap by starting targeted supplemental tutoring for students most in need of academic support.

The program required resources to pay tutors and for other supports from the overall PTA budget. Brent raises about $300K per year so the program leads needed to convey the importance of this program to the whole school in order to get PTA buy-in. They named the program “Rising Tides” to convey that an investment in a smaller group of students would help the entire student body. The PTA did choose to provide support for the tutoring program by funding some outside staff; some internal staff are paid by DCPS through administrative premium. They relaxed the definition of the achievement gap so the net could be cast more broadly, but the program still turned out to serve 100 percent African-American students.

The program is all voluntary, but five teachers rotate through and one teacher provides the coordination. The program runs on T, W, Th with 16-20 students gaining additional instructional time in their days. The first hour is reviewing academic support work and the second hour is focused on structured play and whole child support. They provide homework support (plus snacks) focused primarily on math support. While it is early to see all of the results, the students participating are engaged and responding well.

Ongoing Challenges

Parental engagement in the tutoring program— Realize that parental involvement is critical to the success of the program and Brent is still struggling to engage parents. They want to work on some additional ideas for doing so this Spring.

Although the initial goal was to address concerns around poor racial dynamics, the program has done little o really bring the community out in support and underlying racial divisions persist. The Brent town hall meeting was not well attended by Brent families, an indication that support/enthusiasm is generally not high.

Ward 6 Master Facilities Planning— Nancy Huvendick, 21CSF

Received an update on the city’s Master Facilitations Planning (MFP) process and changes that may impact Ward 6. With the PACE (Planning Actively for Comprehensive Education facilities Amendment Act), the Council Ed Committee tasked the deputy mayor for education (DME) with developing a longterm MFP for all publicly funded schools in DC.

In the past, the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) was often ad hoc and fluid, and schools that were in the plan did not always stay in the plan because it was very political. The Ed Committee’s plan for how to do the CIP using data and criteria has helped, and is an improvement to how the CIP was handled in the past.

MFP Schedule

The MFP is behind schedule, but this is not unusual. The PACE Act originally called for it to finished in March 2018 with a budget, but it is now scheduled for completion in June 2018. The MFP scope is ambitious and requires substantial community input, which takes time. The city has not yet selected a contractor.

Cross-sector Planning

DME’s guidance memo to LEAs requests charter participation and promises nondisclosure of charter data since the charter sector is autonomous. This makes cross sector planning difficult and the Cross-Sector Task Force has had a hard time establishing a coordinated planning process.

Ward and feeder-based planning is a foundational piece of the MFP. Local knowledge is crucial, especially within the complex sector landscape. Ward 6’s 2010 initiative with middle school planning was an example for Wards 1, 5, and 7. Also pertinent to Ward 6 is that a new PCSB report identifies it as a “green zone” where prospective/expanding charter schools are encouraged to consider opening new charter schools.

Discussion about how the overpopulating in Ward 3 schools and lobbying for expansions impacts the planning process across the city. Concern that the context of “providing more accessibility to higher performing schools” is framing the process and not better utilization of buildings and pushing quality across the city.

Discussion about Miner historic building as one on the list of “vacant but on an active school site,” and interest in exploring ways to ensure the building is utilized to support the community rather than make it into an excess building. Also, raised the importance of maintaining green space even when schools undergo renovations.

Decision to draft a sign-on letter from CHPSPO to invite DCPS and DME to plan with us as they committed to doing. Plan to share the CHPSPO letter with other Ward-based educational councils to see if there is interest in a city-wide letter.

CHPSPO Strategic Planning Proposal — Danica Petroshius and Suzy Glucksman

Discussed a proposal to conduct a half-day retreat in an effort to create a strategic plan for CHPSPO. The purpose is to level set knowledge in the group given the influx of new members, leverage new energy and excitement, and collectively identify future goals and objectives over the next few years. Also, interest in thinking more about how to recognize 15 years of CHPSPO (in 2021) and how to market and celebrate it.

All agreed it would be a great opportunity to do so on a weekend afternoon with potential timing set in late January. If you are interested in helping to plan the retreat, contact Danica or Suzy.

Upcoming Events

Cross-Sector Collaboration Task Force, Tuesday, Nov 28, 2017 EdCounsel (101 Constitution Ave, NW, Suite 900)

Chancellor Community Forum, Tuesday, Dec 12, 8:45am – 10:00am, Eastern HS

Next CHPSPO meeting is on Tuesday, December 19, 2017