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Sandra Moscoso Testimony – DC Council – Comprehensive Plan Amendment Act of 2020

Testimony of Sandra Moscoso

Committee of the Whole Hearing on B23-736, Comp Plan
November 12, 2020 @ 10am

Good morning Chairman and Councilmembers. I am Sandra Moscoso, a parent of two students at School Without Walls High School and president of the school’s Home and School Association, I am secretary of the Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization, a member of the Ward 2 Education Council, and a former Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan Education Campus and former BASIS DC charter parent. 

I am here to discuss education facilities and express opposition of section 1203.4, which calls for co-location of “public charter schools within significantly underused DCPS facilities.” 

The Comprehensive Plan is based on the Deputy Mayor for Education’s 2018 Master Facility Plan (MFP), which in turn is based on recommendations from the DME’s 2018 study. 

However, not the DME study, nor the MFP are supported by any kind of comprehensive education plan inclusive of DCPS and charter sectors. While we can predict needs for seats via population projections, without a strategy or coordination about how to fill those needs, any facilities planning is nonsensical and reactive – just like the proposed co-location. 

I urge Council to insist that the DME work with DCPS and the DC Public Charter School Board on a Comprehensive education plan and only after that is in place, address the role of facilities in supporting citywide education objectives.

As stated in section 1200.24, the Comp Plan should ensure “that investments in schools promote equity and excellence, serve the needs of all students, and provide access to educational skills and development opportunities across all eight wards through matter-of-right neighborhood schools and Districtwide public schools.” 

Vulnerable schools should be adequately funded, so they can support and grow their existing communities and programming. 

These schools should not be asked to bear the burden of lack of planning by our city.

And on a personal note, my children were enrolled in a co-located school for 5 years. I can confidently share that co-location introduced difficulties around design and scheduling of shared spaces, in particular when pedagogy was not aligned across programs. It’s not worth it. Please strike section 1203.4.

A second concern I would like to raise with the Comp Plan is the risk of loss of access to green space by DC Public Schools students under section 805.12, which ”Encourages shared-use agreements for green spaces owned by District government and DCPS.” 

We all saw how this played out last year with Jelleff field, where a private school who can afford to pay, received years of priority access to a public space during peak after school hours. 

This also happened when Ellington Field was moved out of DCPS’ control to be managed by DPR, introducing shared use agreements and creating a situation where public school students risk competing with private entities over the use of public school space. It is worth noting that DC charter outdoor spaces are not subject to these “shared-use” agreements. 

Please strike section 805.12.

Thank you for your time.