CHPSPO Meeting Notes – January 15, 2013

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization
Maury Elementary School Library
6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.


1) At-large City Council Candidates Forum (Charles Allen, Councilmember Wells’ Chief of Staff)

  • In April, District voters will elect an at-large City Councilmember in a special election for a two-year term.
  • Eliot-Hine would like to host a student-led candidates’ forum focused on education and youth issues.
  • Idea is to get students to organize the candidates’ forum, e.g., invite the candidates, find a moderator, advertise the forum, etc.
  • Joe Weeden offered that Defeat Poverty DC would be a co-sponsor.  CHPSPO offered to co-sponsor.
  • Suzanne Wells offered to let Principals Clemens (Capitol Hill Cluster School/Stuart Hobson Middle School) and Gordon (Jefferson Academy) know about the forum to see if there might be opportunities for their students to participate.
  • Charles Allen offered to put together a timeline leading up to the forum.

2) DCPS Lottery Communications (Alaina Smith, DCPS, Office of Strategic Enrollment Initiatives)

  • Encourage parents to attend open houses
  • Encourage schools to list open houses on DCPS open house list
  • Lottery is open Jan 28-Feb 25. Entering early does not mean better chance of getting in.
  • BIG CHANGES to waitlist and registration processes. See this year’s guide.
  • Lottery website:

3) DCPS Library Task Force update

  • Questions around how recommendations to be implemented, e.g., per pupil funding?
  • Task force recommendations here.

3) Presentation on Maury’s game lending library (Vanessa Ford, Maury Think Tank Teacher)

  • Think Tank and Science Expo on January 24, 6-7:30PM at Maury Elementary School
  • Game lending library at Maury is open to all families in the community. Many families have expressed positive feedback. Games serve as a way to engage children around math, science, problem-solving, cooperation.
  • Maury received a grant from the Capitol Hill Community Foundation to start the game lending library.
  • Think Tank Blog:

4) Discussion of 2013 CHPSPO Priorities (tabled till next month) – see last year’s priorities here:

5) CHPSPO 501(c)3 (Sherry Trafford) (tabled till next month)

  • Bank account is open
  • CHPSPO has been incorporated
  • Almost there for 501c3

Next CHPSPO Meeting:  February 19, 2013

Upcoming Events:


  • January 22, 2013, 5:30 p.m., Jefferson Academy Open House
  • January 29, 6:30 pm, Living Room Chat with Principal Tynika Young for 2nd grade families

DCPS School Consolidation Plan Announced

DC Public Schools’ final consolidation plan was announced on January 17.

What does this mean for CHPSPO schools?

Tommy Wells commends Chancellor Henderson and highlights direct impact to Ward 6 schools and invites the public to attend Chancellor Henderson’s briefing to the Council’s Committee on Education about her “School Consolidation Plan of 2013” on Wednesday January 23 at noon in Room 412 (Wilson Building).

Do you see other impact? How does this impact your school?


Recap of Dec 5 School Consolidation Meeting‏ – by Joe Weedon

by Joe Weedon, Maury ES Superparent


Greetings –

I wanted to provide everyone with a quick recap of last night’s meeting with Chancellor Henderson about DCPS’s proposal to close/consolidate schools across the District.

Last night’s gathering brought together a standing room only group of parents, teachers and students from Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. The discussion followed the lines of the other forums held last week in Wards 5, 7 and 8. The Chancellor gave brief opening remarks and then small group discussions began. There were DCPS employees taking notes from each small group that will be compiled and presented to the Chancellor. The Chancellor also made her way around the room to observe and listen in on the small group conversations. The groups did report out at the end of the meeting.

The main messages coming from the crowd largely revolved around saving individual schools, questions about why different schools were included and requests for information from DCPS on what their plan is to facilitate the consolidations – ie, will teachers be offered jobs, will there be busing, will there be extra staff to aid in the consolidation. At the end of the day, I believe the consensus was that DCPS is moving too fast. Additionally, there is strong sentiment that DCPS needs to provide more clear information about the criteria for selecting schools, the projected cost savings, and a strategy for reinvesting the funds. Additionally, questions were raised about why the closing/consolidation process is being conducted separately from the redrawing of boundaries (which is expected to take place next year). A final point was a great concern that DCPS and the Public Charters are operating independently without any coordination… the public charters plan to open several new schools this fall raising the question of whether or not DCPS should close more schools or whether a moratorium should be placed on additional openings/closings until there is a central vision and plan for our school system.

Specifically for Ward 6…. It was disappointing to be included with residents from Wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. While the chancellor said she was looking for new ideas and outside the box thinking, the size of the meeting and the limited focus on issues directly impacting us in Ward 6 prevented this. Overall, the representatives from Eastern HS did a great job of expressing concerns about the movement of Spingarm students into their school, though it may have been lost in the overall chaos of the evening. I mis-spoke earlier in the week, one Ward 6 school – Prospect Early Learning Center – is slated to be closed; however, it was not brought up last night and it appears there is limited concern about integrating students from Prospect into their community schools.

The path forward…

We need to ensure that Eastern HS is supported fully in the integration of any new students. Eastern’s culture and curriculum are significantly different from that at Spingarm. Long-term, the inclusion of new feeder schools into Eastern is also significantly problematic. Eastern’s ideal capacity is approximately 1100-1200 (I over estimated based on outdated documents in my note earlier this week). That means they expect to have approximately 250 – 300 freshman each year. With nearly 500 3rd graders already in the Eastern feeder pattern, we cannot sustain a school where more individual students have a ‘right’ to attend.

Visit this link – – to urge DCPS to slow the process, to ensure that feeder pattern realignment is done in conjunction with school closings.

Thanks for your support of our schools.


For Tweets from the same meeting, see the CHPSPO Storify.

DCPS Proposed School Closures – Impact to Walkable Communities?

We wanted to see how the proposed DCPS consolidation plan would impact the ability of students affected by the closures to be able to attend a school within a 1 mile walk.

We reached out DC Action for Children and they (thank you, Kate Kairys!) built the following map (super quickly!), which show all DC Public Schools, as well as a one mile radius around those proposed for closure.  It helps to see actual impact on a map. Check out DC Kids Count 2012 Databook Tools and Maps for a rich data about DC children and resources available to them (from school performance, to assets like grocery stores and libraries) where they live.

What do you see? How will this impact your community?

DCPS Proposed School Closures, 2012 by DC KIDS COUNT

School Closing Community Conversation – Weds, Dec 5, 6-8PM

This Wednesday, December 5 from 6 – 8 pm, DCPS is holding a community meeting for Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 to discuss their school closing proposal. The meeting will be held at the Brightwood Education Campus located at 1300 Nicholson St, NW in Ward 4.

While none of our schools are on the school closure list, I believe it is still important to speak out for the closing schools.  Some of the schools proposed for closure are working hard to attract neighborhood families, and are starting to see increasing interest in their schools.  Other neighborhoods are faced with not having a DCPS school within walking distance if some of the schools close.

Many of our schools have seen great improvements in recent years.  I think it is important for DCPS to hear from Ward 6 families about what is working in our schools, and share ideas for how DCPS can support neighborhood schools.  I plan to be at the meeting on December 5th, and hope to see you there.

Suzanne Wells

CHPSPO Meeting Notes – November 20, 2012

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization
Maury Elementary School Library – 1250 Constitution Ave., NE
November 20, 2012, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.


1) DCPS School Closing Announcement (Cathy Reilly, SHAPPE, and Daniel del Pielago (Empower DC)


    • Dec 5 – Wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 Community Discussion on DCPS Proposed Consolidation and Reorganization, 6 – 8 p.m @ Brightwood Education Campus (1300 Nicholson St, NW)
    • What does this mean to us (Ward 6 families) in the future?
    • Engage DCPS online – post ideas on how to save money here.


    • Need to formulate collective vision of how to fix the schools
    • When Hine and Eliot merged 5 years ago, combined population was +600, now Hine is ~300 total. Consolidation has proven to show decreased enrollment.
    • No plan in place to enrich combined campuses programmatically.
    • Valuable to attend a neighborhood school. Publicly funded, but privately run schools don’t fit into a neighborhood system.
    • Teachers union not a strong voice; engage other unions?
    • What impact has Basis had on the DCPS middle schools? (Latin, Two Rivers)
    • Review data à
    • 40% of families affected in this closing were affected in 2008 closing
    • A lot of other places DCPS could save $ in lieu of closing schools – Teacher bonus, IMPACT evaluation, vendor relations (food services)
    • What does an all charter system look like?
    • Two pronged approach: Retention of families + Market to new families

2) Class of 20xx (Drew Golin, Maury parent)


    • Recruit captains/teams at each school by grade (public, private, charter – raising a community)


    • Captains/Teams at each school by grade (public, private, charter – raising a community)
    • Own listservs for the class
    • Meetings
    • Start getting involved in the HS – raise funds for music program, donate to bake sales, attend events
    • ‘experts’ to think about
    • Hill Rag letter
    • 3rd grade playgroup: 1/3 of parents whose children had been to multiple schools.
    • Summer concert series with Eastern HS band.
    • Attend Eastern HS games,dc)/basketball/schedule.htm

3) Title IX and sports for girls in DC (Valarie Hogan, National Women’s Law Center fellow)


    • Circulate link to flyer and survey – engage MS and High Schools, coaches, parents, teachers – elem are covered but small.
    • Meeting Dec 3, 6:30PM to give more info, discuss next steps @ Crolin Morrings, 1101 Pennsylvania Ave., NW


    • Center has been in talks w/ DCPS for years and possibly ready to file a complaint. Another complaint has been filed – focus is on opportunities, not on spending.
    • Charters have not been tracked, in process of understand DC’s responsibility around charters and equity vis a vis sports

4) Learn about IB Middle Years @ Atlas and Living Room Chats update


    •  Next IB education night – Jan 22 at Westminster Presbyterian in SW , 6PM
    • Stuart Hobson has first Tuesday visits
    • Dec 2 Moth school information night 2-5PM.  CHPSPO will attend.

5) DCPS Library Task Force update

    • Continues to meet: recommendations out by mid-December, a lot of support for staffing librarians at all schools, collection development
    • Where are books going w/ all closures? (Almost of all schools being closed don’t have librarians)…

Next CHPSPO Meeting:  December 18, 2012

Upcoming Events:

  • December 2:  Girls on the Run 5K – 2PM @ Anacostia Park. Cheer on Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, J.O. Wilson, Ludlow-Taylor, Maury, and Tyler or register to run in the 5K
  • December 2:  Hill School Information Night– 2-5PM @ Capitol Hill Day School
  • December 3:  Title IX Sports for Girls Next Steps – 6:30PM @ Crolin Morrings, 1101 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
  • December 5:  Wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 Community Discussion on DCPS Proposed Consolidation and Reorganization, 6 – 8 p.m.
  • January 22:  Next IB education night – at Westminster Presbyterian in SW , 6PM

School Closures and Libraries – by Peter Macpherson

Dear Council Members:

Tomorrow is going to be the beginning of  a torturous dialogue for the District of Columbia. Chancellor Henderson is going to present a list of schools she will be propose be closed. And I fear that the chancellor will attempt to create a nexus between the closures and presence of librarians in the schools. The argument is quite simple: the only way to afford librarians is through the savings generated by school closings. Not only is this a dishonest argument–one the chancellor has made before–but unchallenged is a very damaging one as well. It requires us to accept the notion that libraries exist far from the crucial core activities of a school. This is not true. In fact the evidence screams defiantly that the opposite is the case. Libraries are essential to virtually every feature of a school’s mission.

Study after study–sixty since 1965–have shown that presence of libraries and credentialed librarians have a dramatic impact on literacy development and overall student performance.  A study done in Colorado and released this year examined staffing levels in school libraries in 2005 and then revisited those same sites in 2011. Those schools that had been able to retain a librarian during those years or gained one had significantly better reading scores. Those that had a librarian but then lost the position saw their scores deteriorate. And those that did not have librarians at all saw poorer reading achievement. And recent studies in states such as Pennsylvania produced similar results.  In the 2010-11 academic year the Hampton, South Carolina School District was a beneficiary of a grant from the United States Department of Education designed to use libraries for literacy development and improve reading skills.  The grant funneled money into the district for library collection development, technology acquisition and staffing with certified library media specialist. A team of evaluators selected by the education department selected to review the results of the grant reported, “Students in the third, fifth and seventh grades in Hampton School District I had a significant increase in reading MAP scores from the fall of 2010 to the spring of 2011.”

And the most successful urban school district in the United States, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, have comprehensive school library programs. That’s the case in Austin, Texas, Hillsborough County, Florida, Jefferson County, Kentucky and Charlotte, North Carolina. In Anchorage, Alaska, a school district of comparable size to DCPS that is racially, ethnically and socieo-econominally diverse , has a librarian in all of its schools. Though not a perfect school district it has better reading scores than ours.

In the five years of mayoral control of the schools DCPS has had the ability to ability to have properly-resourced, well-staffed libraries and has consistently chosen a different path. The last superintendent, Clifford Janey, instituted a requirement that all schools have a librarian. Upon arrival Michelle Rhee kept the requirement in place but gave virtually any school that asked an exemption. The cuts the chancellor made in school librarian positions back in the spring accelerated a decline in the school libraries underway since 2007. There has been no direct, consistent funding for school library materials since that time. And though DCPS has a line in its budget for library and media services, in the past two fiscal years most of the money has been spent on things completely unrelated to libraries. This information came to light as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request.  It paid for such things as building maintenance, HVAC repairs, a strategic plan for the DCPS Office of Community and Family Engagement done by a San Francisco-based consultant. The chancellor and her team have made repeated representations to the council that they were asking for money that would be spent on school libraries. But there was never any plan in place for how to spend that money. Instead it became or was intended to be a piggybank available for robbing at will.

Claiming poverty is a pernicious and frequently used argument made by the chancellor and her top lieutenants to justify both the dearth of librarians and the paucity of materials in school libraries. But that argument collapses in the face of even modest scrutiny. Mary Levy, a longtime DCPS budget observer and trusted council adviser, indicated back in the spring that money was being sequestered in budget line by the school system for unknown purposes. More than that we have a school system that can hardly be called underfunded when it’s over $800 million this fiscal year for 46,000 student s. Anne Arundel County, Maryland has 76,300 students that it educates with a budget that is only $177,127,300 more than ours. And it has well-resourced libraries and librarians in every school. The City of Falls Church, Virginia, with 2,200 students in four schools is in a similar situation and it has a budget of $37,603,600. The United States Department of Defense Education Activity has 84,803 students in schools worldwide. The current fiscal year has it operating with $1.44 billion and it has good libraries and librarians in every school.  These are school systems with lower per-pupil spending than DCPS. Looking around the country at state capitals one sees a far greater commitment to school libraries. Helena, Montana has librarians in every school as does Jefferson City, Missouri and Olympia, Washington.

Bismarck, North Dakota has a librarian and aide in every school. In fact this city of 16,000 has a comparable number of library staff working in its schools as does DCPS!

Clearly good school libraries are not beyond us in economic terms. Our school system’s leadership has made a choice, a bad choice, in not investing in school libraries. And the cost of their indifference toward them is borne by students and taxpayer. Students are being deprived of a critically-need pedagogic tool and taxpayers risk having to pay for a modernization that parents do not embrace because the schools are incomplete. In spite of the fact that Anacostia High School just opened after a $62 million modernization, its new library does not have a single book. The old collection was lost and the chancellor says there is no money to buy a new one. When H.D. Woodson High School students returned to their brand-new $110 million building, they came into a structure with a library containing 450 volumes. That figure should be 10,000. Again, most of its collection had been lost during construction and, again, the chancellor says there is no money to bolster its collection. And Eastern High School, which was the beneficiary of a $74 million modernization, had half its collection lost during storage at Shaw at Garnet-Patterson Middle School. The average age of the books in Eastern’s small library is 1980.

School libraries do not depend on school closures. Rather they require a both a recognition of their importance and the competence to administer properly. We have one of the worst school library programs of any large school district in the United States. Many of the schools are either bereft of books or librarians or both. And that is by choice. The council has the ability to fix this situation. I hope it will urge the chairman to hold a hearing Councilman Evans’ bill requiring a librarian in every school. And I hope it will embrace a more fulsome solution to the school library crisis. We have a $140 million budget surplus. The hole that the school libraries are in is of such a depth that it’s hard to imagine the chancellor ever committing the resources from her budget to adequately dig them out. They need a $23 million school library-version of the Manhattan Project. Right now they are literally on the verge of extinction. We have far fewer librarians than we did in 2000. We have a smaller number of students served by a library media center than in 1954, according to figures from the National Center for Education Statistics.

I’ve attached a link to a proposal that was printed in The Washington Post. It outlines how such a sum would be spent.


Peter MacPherson

To:,,,,,Yvette Alexander <>,Marion Barry <>,,David Catania <>,,,Tommy Wells <>

CC: Vincent Gray <>,Kaya Henderson <>,Lisa Ruda <>,Josephine Robinson <>,Carey Wright <>,Bonnie Cain <>,Charles Allen <CAllen@DCCOUNCIL.US>,Kevin Stogner <>,Allen Lew <>,Peter Webber <>,Jennifer Leonard <>,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,