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DCPS Families – Please Complete this Back to School Safety, Tech, and Family Needs Survey

Dear Ward 6 DCPS Families and School Leaders,

Please provide feedback to the ward education councils on your DCPS students’ experiences during the first few weeks of school by completing this survey. The survey includes questions on DCPS health protocols, technology, and family needs. Your answers will inform discussions on how to best meet student needs. 

We hope you will also consider disseminating to your school communities and neighborhood networks. Results will be shared publicly near the end of September.

Survey Link: https://bit.ly/FamilySurveyDCPS

Helpful resources to support social media and paper dissemination HERE

Survey sponsors:
Ward 1 Education Council
Ward 2 Education Council
Ward 3 Wilson Feeder Education Network
Ward 4 Education Alliance
Ward 5 Education Equity Committee
Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization 
Ward 7 Education Council
Ward 8 Education Council

Join us for Bike, Roll and Read to School Day – May 4, 7:30am at Lincoln Park!

  1. Register your school here to ensure you are eligible for great giveaways!
  2. Pick a k-12 friendly book to swap
  3. On May 4, buckle your helmet, wear your school gear and bring a book to Lincoln Park! 7:30-8:30am!

Enjoy giveaways, local and national speakers and advocates, and celebrate with your school and neighborhood friends before getting to school ON TIME!

Join STAR Framework input session on Weds, April 27 @ 5:30pm + W6PSPO Updates

W6PSPO Community,

Please join the following feedback session 👇🏽 organized by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education regarding the STAR Framework/DC School Report Card.

Wednesday, April 27, 5:30-6:30pm via Teams (Click Here to Join Meeting)

For context, based on your input, W6PSPO members Suzanne Wells and Dr. Betsy Wolf testified before the DC State Board of Education urging the elimination of the single summative rating and to instead implement a dashboard providing more well-rounded and contextual picture of a school, its academic growth, and climate. Suzanne and Betsy’s testimonies HERE.

Other upcoming events and updates…

  • Bike and Roll and Read to School Day is Wednesday, May 4. Join us at Lincoln Park, 7:30-8:15am. We’ll have lots of terrific guests and giveaways! Be sure to register your school event HERE to be eligible for giveaways. Tag your photos on @w6pspo on IG and Twitter!
  • We’ve heard from several schools about the delays in staff, sub, aftercare, etc clearances and the disruption to hiring, onboarding, and staffing classrooms. We sent a letter to the Mayor and Executive with support from all of the education councils.
  • ICYMI, W6PSPO members testified at several oversight hearings last month. Find our testimonies HERE.

We look forward to seeing you in May!

Letter to DC Gov Executive re Delays in DCPS Clearance Processďżź

April 5, 2022

Mayor Bowser

Deputy Mayor Kihn

Superintendent Grant

Chancellor Ferebee

Dear Mayor Bowser, Deputy Mayor Kihn, Superintendent Grant and Chancellor Ferebee,

We write to ask you to urgently bring the DCPS clearance processes for hires and volunteers up to date, and to ensure an efficient and effective system for quickly clearing staff and volunteers to work in or partner with our schools.

Schools are experiencing long wait times for hires they want and need. Substitutes and volunteers are

waiting months for clearances. This is unacceptable. School communities cannot meet your calls to have every child feel “loved,” and for all children to have the opportunity to recovery from pandemic challenges – academically, socially, emotionally and physically – without adequate, safe adults in our school buildings.

We strongly support the purpose of clearances as one critical piece of the process to help ensure that our system does all it can to keep students and adults in school buildings safe from predators and those who might cause harm of any kind. At the same time, we know that schools are currently struggling to be fully staffed and that volunteers stand ready to help schools in a variety of ways. We should be able to meet all these needs quickly and safely.

Some early responses from DCPS staff to inquiries about these delays place the blame on the new legislation that increased requirements for clearances. This, too, is unacceptable. The School Safety Act became effective in April 2019. Multiple agencies have critical roles in implementing that legislation and we expect the Mayor to ensure that your agencies work together effectively and efficiently. We are coming up on the three-year anniversary of that effective date. Even with pandemic-related delays, the clearance process should have been up and running effectively and efficiently by this school year. Instead, we are forcing additional unnecessary challenges on schools that are stretched thin addressing greater student needs and facing flat or slashed budgets.

We ask that you:

¡         Immediately report to the public: the backlog of clearances (hiring, substitutes and volunteers); specifics on the current plan for and status of readiness for full implementation of clearance process including timeline and process; when the clearance process will be fully functional; and how long the new clearance process will take for each person to receive clearances;

¡         Place urgency on and prioritize implementation of a fully functional and efficient clearance system; and

¡         Provide to each school and the public clear guidelines on how any potential hire or volunteer can most efficiently and effectively access the new system.

Please send responses to Suzanne Wells, President of the Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization, at m.godec@att.net. Thank you for your consideration.

With appreciation,


Ward 2 Education Council (W2EC)

Ward 3 Education Network (W3EdNet)

Ward 4 Education Alliance
Ward 5 Education Equity Committee (W5ECC)

Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization (W6PSPO)

Ward 7 Education Council (W7EC)
Ward 8 Education Council  

Cc:

SBOE President: Jessica Sutter

Chairman Phil Mendelson

Councilmember Brian Nadeau

Councilmember Brooke Pinto

Councilmember Mary Cheh

Councilmember Janeese Lewis-George

Councilmember Kenyon McDuffie

Councilmember Charles Allen

Councilmember Vincent Gray

Councilmember Trayon White

Councilmember Anita Bonds

Councilmember Elissa Silverman

Councilmember Robert White

Testimony of Sandra Moscoso CoW Budget Oversight on All Ed Agencies – 3 28 2022 

Testimony of Sandra Moscoso

DC Council CoW Budget Oversight Hearing on all education agencies

March 28, 2022, 9:00AM

Good morning Chairman and Councilmembers. I am Sandra Moscoso, Vice President of the Ward 2 Ed Council and Secretary of the Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization. I’m also an at-large member of School Without Walls’ HS HSA and LSAT.

I am here to express deep concern for the  anticipated impact of DCPS’ budget model on the long-term stability of school operational budgets. 

You have heard from many of us about the lack of transparency throughout the budget model development process. When the FY23 initial budgets were released in February, our collective concerns were realized. The new budget formula has not resolved the chronic underfunding of our public schools.

Many schools saw cuts to their ability to fully fund their programs and current staffing needs. Thomson Elementary, a school where 41% of students are considered ‘at risk’, will lose a classroom teacher, and in spite of having a 46% ELL population, will also lose 1.5 ELL teachers. 

In fact, under the new budget model, five out of eleven* Ward 2 schools face cutting 1 to 4.5 positions. Twelve out of fourteen Ward 6 schools will cut from ½ a position to 6 positions. In FY23, schools can credit mystery ‘one-time’ “stability” or “hold harmless” funds for keeping staffing more or less whole. These funds are considered a mystery because the criteria the Mayor and DCPS use to allocate them are a secret. The one-time funds create an appearance of comfort and stability in the baseline budget, when, in fact, the budget has been supplemented on a one-time basis.

Once those one-time mystery funds are gone in FY24 and beyond, Wards 2 and 6 stand to lose 47 staff or more, if as in past years, budgets do not keep up with rising costs. 

I’d like to thank Chairman Mendelson for introducing bills to help schools to stabilize budgets. As the DC Fiscal Policy Institute put it, our city leaders must “Ensure that schools have enough local, recurring dollars to cover rising costs.” 

I hope we can continue to work on these bills and pass laws to ensure our families are able to rely on predictable programming. Families need predictability and so do staff. Per EmpowerEd, DC has the highest turnover rate in the country with 20-25 % of teachers leaving their schools each year.

We’ve learned this year how difficult it is to replace teachers, and how disruptive vacant positions are to schools and to student mental health and learning. We cannot continue to weather volatile budgets, volatile staffing, and volatile learning environments.

Thank you for holding this hearing and thank you for taking action.

——

*Duke Ellington is not included, as their budget and organizational structure are not yet clear.

Bike and Roll to School Day is May 4, 2022 – Register & Save the Date!

Bike AND ROLL to School Day is coming!

For now, get ready by:

  • Step 1: Mark your Calendar –> May 4, 2022, 7:45-8:15 AM @ Lincoln Park.
  • Step 2: Register your school‘s event (or your participation in the Lincoln Park event) HERE!!
  • Step 3: Tell all your friends about Steps 1 and 2!

Suzanne Wells Testimony – CoW Budget Oversight on All Ed Agencies – 3 28 2022

DC Council COW Budget Oversight Hearing on All Education Agencies
March 28, 2022
Testimony of Suzanne Wells
Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the FY23 DCPS budget. I am Suzanne Wells,  President of the Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization. I’m also a community member on the Eastern High School LSAT.

What has become clear from our member schools is that most of the schools whose budgets allow them to keep their current staff are only able to do so because of covid recovery funds that were added to school budgets.  The addition of these one-time funds makes it appear our schools are adequately funded, when nothing could be further from the truth.  We are very concerned about the budget cuts that are expected next year when the covid recovery funds are not available. 

Because the schools are not adequately funded we are also seeing schools forced to use their at-risk dollars to maintain their current staff.  The lack of adequate funding doesn’t allow schools to target their at-risk dollars to the students with the most needs, and continues long-standing practices of using at-risk dollars to augment school budgets.

            Our city leaders must work together to ensure schools have adequate local funds that cover rising costs, and provide stability in school staffing from one year to the next.  Our city’s education budget is $2.2 billion dollars to educate approximately 96 ,000 students. It’s past time for the council to look wholistically at the costs for both DCPS and the public charter school sector to find ways to most efficiently use our education dollars.

            The FY23 budget includes funding to build-out the Georgetown Day School property the City purchased in order to alleviate overcrowding at Wilson High School.  DCPS has indicated a portion of the seats at this new high school will be reserved for out-of-boundary and at-risk students; some have reported up to 50% of the seats  (500) will be for out-of-boundary and at-risk students.  While on the surface this might sound like a good idea, there are multiple concerns with this plan.  To reserve these out-of-boundary and at-risk seats assumes this new school in Ward 3 will be more desirable, and families will want to choose it over their in-boundary feeder school.  A shift of up to 500 high school students to a new  high school in Ward 3 by design will reduce the enrollment in our by-right feeder high schools.  Is this what is intended?  The city must continue to strengthen the feeder patterns in all parts of the city instead of opening up new seats in Ward 3 and encouraging families to travel across town for a quality education.  The opening of this new high school will bring the total number of high schools in DC to 38.  This is far more high schools than our city needs, especially in light of declining student population numbers.

            I hope there is a commitment to ensure our families can rely on predictable feeder patterns, programming, and staffing at our schools. Our students deserve nothing less.

            Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

Suzanne Wells Testimony – Safe Routes to School Expansion Regulation Amendment Act of 2021 – 3_26_22

Committee on Transportation and the Environment

B24-0565 – Safe Routes to School Expansion Regulation Amendment Act of 2021

March 26, 2022

Thank you for allowing testimony on the Safe Routes to School Expansion Regulation Amendment Act of 2021.  I am Suzanne Wells, President of the Ward 6 Public  Schools Parent Organization (W6PSPO).  Our organization strongly supports this bill.

Traffic safety is not a new issue for W6PSPO.  Since 2001, we have been involved in organizing a Walk-to-School Day event in our community.  Walk-to-School Day raises awareness about areas where safety improvements are needed to make it safe to walk (and bike) to school.  In January 2022, at our organization’s monthly meeting, we discussed the issues we wanted to prioritize for the coming year.  Traffic safety around our schools was identified as a top priority.  Our members felt it would be difficult to find a school where there weren’t traffic safety concerns.  There were numerous concerns, and the most frequently cited ones were about the lack of crossing guards and inadequate traffic calming measures around schools.

When we discussed how to advocate for traffic safety around our schools, the harsh reality was that we were looking at piecemeal approaches to address traffic safety at individual schools or schools in Ward 6.  Schools with active parent groups were more likely to organize to get a traffic guard or traffic calming measures, and schools with less active parent groups would likely be left with the status quo traffic measures.

The Safe Routes to School Expansion Regulation Amendment Act is exactly what the City needs, if we are going to be serious about making it safe for all families to get to and from school.  We support measures in the bill such as consistent school zone signage, high visibility crosswalks, reduced speeds in school zones, and traffic signals or all-way stop signs within a quarter mile ”walk shed.”   We support these measures for all schools.  We also support the language in the bill to prioritize schools with higher rates of driver-involved crashes, and higher numbers of at-risk students.

We believe that consistency in traffic safety measures around all of the schools in our city will raise awareness among drivers about the need to drive slowly and cautiously around schools in order to save lives.  Before this law is enacted, and after it is enacted, we would encourage the City to have a public awareness campaign to explain the importance of traffic safety around schools, and what changes drivers can expect to see.

We want to thank the Committee on Transportation and the Environment for working to ensure all students and their families can get safely to and from school.

Video: Ward 6 Middle Schools Principals Panel – March 9, 2022

Principals across Ward 6 feeder middle schools share their ideas on what makes a good middle school, how their schools help all students reach their highest potential, what extracurricular activities they offer, and more. 

Moderator: Denise Forte, the interim CEO of the Education

Ward 6 Middle School Principal Panel Discussion – March 9 @ 7:30PM

Join the virtual Middle School Principal Panel Discussion is set for Wednesday, March 9, at 7:30 pm. Principals across Ward 6 feeder middle schools will share their ideas on what makes a good middle school, how their schools help all students reach their highest potential, what extracurricular activities they offer, and more. 

Moderator: Denise Forte, the interim CEO of the Education Trust,

Panelists:

You can register for the Middle School Principal Panel Discussion at https://bit.ly/W6PSPOMSPrincipals

W6PSPO Budget Meeting & Middle School Principal Panel

Dear Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization members,

Please mark your calendars for two important meetings in February:

1.  On Wednesday, February 9, at 7:30 pm, there will be a budget discussion with Chris Laskowski, Legislative Director for Councilmember Charles Allen.  CM Allen is preparing a budget letter to the Mayor asking her to include specific priorities in her budget proposal, and Chris is seeking our input.  This letter is an opportunity to highlight things we want all schools to have, and will also include major capital asks such as new playgrounds, long-standing building issues and modernizations that need to be added to the capital plan or moved up.  This will also be an opportunity to make CM Allen aware of specific budget issues you want his office to work on after the budget is released.  A Zoom link will be sent before the meeting.

For background, last year’s approved budget with the 5-year capital plan can be found here: https://cfo.dc.gov/page/annual-operating-budget-and-capital-plan

2.  On Tuesday, February 15, at 8 pm, W6PSPO will host a Middle School Principal Panel Discussion (this will be in lieu of our monthly meeting).   Principal Adutwum from Capitol Hill Montessori@ Logan, Principal Magrino from Eliot-Hine Middle School, Principal Dohmann from Jefferson Academy, and Principal Fraser from Stuart Hobson Middle School will participate in the panel discussion.  

In the next few days, a flyer will be sent about the Middle School Principal Panel Discussion for you to share with your school communities.

Suzanne Wells

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