DC Council Education Committee Budget Hearing – Vincent Morris, CHCS

Good morning Chairman Catania and other members of the Council. My name is Vincent Morris and I am the President of the PTA for Peabody Pre-K, Watkins Elementary and Stuart Hobson Middle School – the Cluster school.

I have three daughters: one each in 6th, 4th and 2nd grade and I, like many of the parents who are engaged in public education, feel very strongly that school reforms and improvements can’t come soon enough.

This is an urgent issue for us and we support taking bold action to improve the school system to benefit all students in all wards. By that, I mean less focus on test scores, more programs to keep families from skipping off to charter or private schools and a full embrace of the effort to modernize school boundaries so they are logical and build community.

I’m going to begin by giving everyone a quick overview of the Cluster and some of our top areas of concern.

For starters, when you think of the Cluster, you probably think of Capitol Hill.

That’s not wrong but today the Cluster is composed primarily of students who live in Wards 7 and 8 and 4 and 5. We attract students from all corners of the city because the program at our school is among the best and most exciting east of Rock Creek Park.

We have one outstanding principal – Dawn Clemens – in charge of 3 school buildings and more than 1,200 students. The helps align the campus vertically and thematically but also gives parents a level of certainty and familiarity for their children from age 3 to 13.

Because of that size, year to year fluctuations in funding can cause real problems at all grades. So we’ve asked in the past and will ask again this year for consistent funding for our operating budget.

We also feel pretty strongly that Kaya Henderson has not followed through across the board on commitments to give middle schools new investments and a path to excellence. At Hobson our FARM population is triple that of Deal, our students are overwhelmingly African American and we have more poor families than that school – yet we are constantly under the gun advocating for resources.

At Stuart, we consistently do more with less.

On a related note, as you know our middle school does not have a full size athletic field for students and athletes. We argued for the construction of an underground parking garage to maximize green space for the school and neighborhood – just like DCPS did for schools like Janney in Ward 3 and will do for Duke Ellington in Ward 2. Others will speak more about this but I will say to you Chairman Catania that I appreciate your willingness to wade into this issue in an attempt to come up with logical alternatives.

While we argue about finishing the renovation at Hobson, the children at Watkins attend school each day in a building that is one of the most run down in the whole city.

The bathrooms never smell right and sometimes stop working. This winter we had leaks in the roof and water dripped into a classroom. Some of our heating units went out and students were forced to wear jackets, while other parts of the school were like a sauna. And windows are in many places taped shut to keep out squirrels, pollen and the elements.  I won’t even get into the broader issues about the small spaces and dated layout.

It’s not logical for DCPS to push back the funding for Watkins by another year as the new budget for Fiscal Year 2015 proposes. If anything, the budget should be moved up and DCPS should take a good look at its facilities and programs and ask themselves why they’d impose a delay on Watkins and the 500 students and engaged parents there.

Finally, I want to say a word about the school nurse situation at Watkins. Unlike 90 percent of DC schools, we don’t have a full time nurse – which I’ve been told is because our students do not have as many chronic or profound health care issues or sicknesses as other schools.

By that logic, we could close ambulance service near Foggy Bottom because college students are healthy and close fire stations near Capitol Hill because everything is built with bricks and is less likely to catch fire.

In closing, I encourage the Council to work closely with the Chancellor on the budget during the next few months. I think DCPS has been spending money on the school system it wishes it was, rather than on the school system that it is. That needs to change.


Testimony of



Education Budget Oversight Hearing

Thursday, April 17, 2014  10:00 a.m.

John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

At-Large City Councilmember Candidate Forum – Tues April 9: Education and Youth Issues

534048_10151236072209655_617469530_nPlease save the date, Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 6:30–8:00 pm, at Eliot-Hine Middle School, for a candidate forum for the upcoming April 23rd At-Large City Councilmember special election. This forum will focus on education and youth issues.

The candidate forum is being sponsored by the Eliot-Hine Middle School Civics Club, Stuart Hobson Middle School, Jefferson Academy, Defeat Poverty DC, and the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization (CHPSPO).  This non-partisan forum will be co-moderated by Elliot-Hine Middle School students, and a member of the DC media.

  • What: At-Large City Councilmember Special Election Candidate Forum
  • When: Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 6:30-8:00 pm
  • Where: Eliot-Hine Middle School, 1830 Constitution Ave, NE (Stadium/Armory Metro; D6, 96, 97, & B2 Metrobus; BikeShare at Stadium/Armory Metro; on-site parking available)

CHPSPO Delivers Ward 6 Middle School Briefing to Chancellor Henderson

On March 23, CHPSPO parents representing collaborations teams from Eliot-Hine MS, Jefferson MS, Stuart-Hobson MS, and the Montessori Committee (Watkins/Logan) presented a briefing to Chancellor Kaya Henderson on the implementation of the Ward 6 Middle School Plan. Click here for the presentation.

CHPSPO Meeting Notes – January 18, 2011

The Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization meeting was held at Watkins Elementary School on January 18, 2011, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

1.   Middle School Collaboration Teams update (Eliot-Hine, Jefferson, and Stuart Hobson)

 Jefferson  (Update by Jason Townsend and Eve Brooks)

  • Things all set to go for 6th grade academy in a designated part of the school, element of phase in, phase out w/ grades
  • Principal has not been hired for 6th grade academy
  • Collaboration team reps going to each school to encourage kids to attend from feeders.
  • Applications will be required from each child (even from feeder schools)
  • Recruitment campaign outside of the feeder schools
  • Dual program approach – (6th grade academy + 7&8th grade will coexist). Good collaboration w/ existing school and budget of existing school along w/ 6th grade academy
  • 6th grade academy will be IB from beginning, but 7&8th grade students will have to test in to IB. Testing = proficiency
  • Action – Jason Townsend to circulate write up of the structure of the Middle Years Program (IB MYP)

 Eliot Hine (Update by Suzanne Wells and Heather Schoell)

  • Meeting every other week since teams were formed.
  • Outreach to feeder schools (plan for letters to go out to each 5th grade family encouraging to consider Eliot Hine, school representative to meet w/ 5th grade classes, etc.)
  • IB: Currently in “year 0” in moving toward IB MYP
  • Plan to implement math test to 5th graders to place students at appropriate math level in 6th grade, and to offer remedial math over summer school, as necessary to get students prepared for 6th grade math

 Stuart Hobson (Update by Clayton Witt)

  • Trying to implement a math evaluation process for rising 6th graders
  • Collaborating with Eastern HS to set up continuity of curriculum from SH to Eastern
  • Outreach to Ludlow Taylor and JO Wilson (feeders) to start ‘recruiting’ students.
  • Eastern principal will be at Cluster PTA meeting in January

2.  CHPSPO Priorities and ANC Support Brainstorming Session (outcomes are still under discussion and will be posted soon – please check back)


  • Contact Claudia Lujan to come in to discuss Collaboration teams.
  • CHPSPO Table at MS Fair – Clayton Witt and Heather Schoell.

Other News:  Article on Principal Skerritt to come out in February Hill Rag with information on plans for and the structure of Eastern. Open House on Feb 5. Noon to 2 PM @ Eastern

 Next CHPSPO Meeting:   February 22, 2011

 Upcoming Events:

  • Saturday, January 22, 2011, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m – DCPS Middle School Fair, Eliot-Hine Middle School, 1830 Constitution, NE.
  • February 5, 12-2PM. Eastern High School Presentation/Tour Open House with detailed information around Eastern HS curriculum
  • Meeting with Vincent Gray on Middle School Plan TBD

DCPS Open Houses Kick Off this Month!

Curious about your neighborhood school? Check out the upcoming open houses. Mark your calendar now, but check back if the weather is particularly ‘iffy’ (as in 30 inches of snow…).


Ward 6 Middle Schools Plan – Good Stuff for Capitol Hill Students

DCPS hosted a community meeting for the Ward 6 community (for all families of children attending Ward 6 schools) on Thursday, July 29 @ Maury Elementary.

Attendance was pretty impressive for a mid-summer meeting (50ish participants).

The Community learns about DCPS' implementation plan

The presentation and all supporting documents (Collaboration Team, Survey feedback and Summary of plan for each individual schools) will be available on the DCPS site: http://www.dcps.dc.gov/DCPS/building-on-momentum

A few highlights that impact all schools:

  1. Rigorous Academic Program
    • Differentiated Math Pathway: assessment for appropriate placement, ‘rigor’ standards that will apply to all schools, math intervention program to get all students ready for Algebra 1 in the 8th grade, teacher PD
    • World Language as a core course:  HS credit by 8th grade, sharing of teachers to offer additional languages, online programs, after-school programs for credit or enrichment
    • International Baccalaureate Middle Years implementation at Jefferson and Eliot-Hine
  2. Facilities  upgrades (Modernization and ‘Blitz’ schedule)
  3. School Culture and Climate
    • Full Service Schools
    • Educators for Social Responsibility
    • Measuring Success
  4. Grade Configuration and Feeder Patterns
    • Stuart-Hobson: moving Montessori to the Logan School, moving the 5th grade to Watkins and Ludlow-Taylor feeding to Stuart-Hobson effective SY11/12
    • Brent feeding to Jefferson and Eliot-Hine until boundaries are re-drawn
    • Possible re-opening of Van Ness as a neighborhood elementary school
  5. School Collaboration teams at each middle school to implement the above plan – contact your principal by September 10, 2010 if you are interested in joining your middle school’s team.

Congratulations to DCPS, the Capitol Hill community and to CHPSPO for this huge step towards excellence across all middle schools!

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DCPS to Reveal the Ward 6 Middle School Plan – July 29

REMINDER: Please join the Capitol Hill and Ward 6 DCPS community:

Thursday, July 29

Maury Elementary School

1250 Constitution Ave., NE

6-7:30 PM

For background on this initiative, go to:

For more information about this meeting, please contact Claudia Lujan at (202) 719-6598 or Claudia.Lujan@dc.gov.

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