W6PSPO Meets Tuesday May 16 @ 7pm

Dear Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization members,

1.  W6PSPO May 16, 7 pm meeting
This month we’ll be joined by Carolyn Bowen, a Payne parent who serves as a citywide community member on the Advisory Committee on Student Assignment and Boundaries.  Carolyn will discuss the committee’s guiding principles and the Committee’s work to date.  We will also be joined by Keesha Ceran, Associate Director, Teaching for Change, who will discuss the DC Area Teach Truth Day of Action (see attached one-pager) scheduled for June 10.  Finally, we will discuss forming an agenda planning committee for W6PSPO.
If you registered for a previous W6PSPO meeting, the link you received for that meeting will work for this and future W6PSPO meetings.  If you don’t already have the meeting link, you can register at

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAudOqsqDorHdOqNZKiWVfvLL0TPp_az3Wp.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

2.  Boundary Study Virtual Town Hall Meetings
The DME is holding two virtual town hall meetings that will provide an overview of the study process, goals, timeline, and give the public an opportunity to provide feedback about guiding principles and challenges around clear student assignments to by-right schools and feeder pathways.

Visit the DME Virtual Town Hall Series website to learn more about what to expect at the meetings. Recordings of the town halls will also be available on the site. The DME will hold more town halls in the summer and fall.  In the meantime, you are invited to share your thoughts on the boundary process, view some Frequently Asked Questions about both the MFP 2023 and Boundary Study or contact the DME at DME.planning@dc.gov.

3.  State Board of Education May 17 Public Meeting State Board will hold a public meeting on May 17 starting at 5:30 pm. This month’s meeting will focus on student safety.  The SBOE is planning to draft a State of School Safety Report. There will be panelists speaking on various matters regarding student safety, ranging from School Resource Officers to the current resources or initiatives at our schools.  The public is encouraged to testify.  You can sign up to testify here. You must sign up to testify 48 hours before the meeting.SBOE meetings are held in person at the Marion S. Barry, Jr. Building (441 4th St NW), and are live-streamed on the District Knowledge Network, which can be accessed online (Live) or on Comcast Channel 99, RCN Channel 18, and Fios Channel 12.

Hope to see you at our meeting on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

[Video] W6PSPO April 13 2023 Meeting

Staff from the Deputy Mayor for Education’s team joined the April 2023 meeting to give updates on DC education budget for FY24, the Boundary Review / student assignment process, and master facilities plan.

Suzanne Wells Testimony – CoW DC Ed Agency Hearing – Apr 5 2023

Testimony of Suzanne Wells

President, Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization

            Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.

            The Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization (W6PSPO) met on March 21, 2023, to discuss the school budgets for FY24.  Out of 13 schools, five received increases to their budgets averaging $335K with a median gain of $252K.  Eight schools received cuts to their budgets averaging $167K with a median loss of $142K.

            Seven of the eight schools that lost funding had to cut positions such as classroom teachers, social workers and specials teachers like PE and music. We all know uncertainty over funding from year to year contributes to teacher turnover, and a lack of stability at schools.

            The city’s budget for next year is bleaker than it has been in many years.  The combination of the end of the covid relief funding along with the declining tax revenues means the city has difficult choices to make in terms of funding for many important programs.  We realize it becomes increasingly hard to make schools whole when there are so many other programs to fund. Yet, the sense of our group was that many schools still are not getting the funding they need to fully staff their schools, and cover inflation and teacher salary increases. 

            In a difficult budget situation, it means every dollar has to be wisely used.  For DC, we must focus holistically on the DCPS budget and the charter sector budgets.  Today our education dollars are spread very thinly across 249 schools (135 are public charter schools), and we pay for the management of 69 separate school systems (DCPS is just one of the 69 school systems).  We have 37 high schools in the city today many with small enrollments, and competing for a limited number of students. This is a very expensive way to run a school system, and it is hurting all children and in particular those most at-risk, because we are not able to fully fund our existing schools.

As incredible as this sounds, for close to thirty years, there has been no planning between DCPS and the PCSB on the opening of new schools.  Both DCPS and the PCSB are continuing to open new schools or expanding capacity at existing schools.  This lack of planning has resulted in over 30,000 empty seats across both sectors.  Empty seats are most often found at the schools with the most at-risk students and they are the ones hurt the most when the city spreads its education dollars thinly across too many schools.

            The Council has an important role to play in oversight of both DCPS and the charter sector.  We can’t continue to address the budget problems facing schools by throwing more dollars at the problem.  As difficult as it is going to be, we must find a way to better align our schools with the number of students the city has.  We must find a way to better support our by-right public school system.  And, we must stop opening new schools across both sectors without careful analysis of enrollment trends and needs.

Betsy Wolf Testimony – CoW DC Ed Agency Budget Hearing – April 5 2023

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Betsy Wolf, and I will have 3 kids at Amidon-Bowen next year. I wasn’t the only Amidon-Bowen parent signed up to testify today, but I’m the only one who can make it given work commitments. I want to start by noting that holding the hearings during the work day is difficult for most parents to attend, and only parents with the most flexible work schedules can be here.

In the FY24 DCPS budget, Amidon-Bowen saw a slight increase, and after facing staffing cuts for many consecutive years, we are grateful and relieved. But we also recognize that the allocated resources are not enough.

First, DCPS adds a new program each year that requires our staff to do more. Last year, it was a new CES (autism) program when we did not have a single staff member trained in that area. This year, it is the construction of a new daycare center at the school which was not done in collaboration with the community. This new center requires more work and oversight for school administration, as well as more work for unpaid parent volunteers who are now tasked with locking and unlocking the playground on the weekends and trying to hold DCPS accountable. We need to move away from the model of DCPS and the city doing things TO school communities and towards a model where the city works WITH the school community to make things better.  

Second, many of our students are still dealing with trauma in the aftermath of covid-19. The school is doing the best they can with what they have, but there is still a need that is not being met, which has real and multi-year consequences for the school.

Third, there is continued and critical need to focus on the whole child, instead of just focusing on programs that improve test scores. Amidon-Bowen is a wonderful place for this, with a robust sports and music program led by veteran teachers, and the opportunity to participate in FRESHFARM FoodPrints. Years ago, parents at Amidon-Bowen wanted their children to be able to participate in FoodPrints, but we couldn’t afford it because the PTA could not cover the cost. We ask that the city continue to provide funding for FoodPrints to allow equitable access to the program. My eldest child has been nagging me to make one of the FoodPrints recipes, and my second child smuggles fresh vegetables home in her bookbag. I take these signs to mean that the program is working.

In summary, it’s great that we didn’t have our FY24 budget slashed. Yet we’re still got a long way to go. Last spring, about one in five of our 3rd-5th grade students scored proficient on the PARCC in English language arts, and only one in ten in math. This doesn’t mean the school is failing or underperforming – on the contrary, the school works hard to improve student learning and enhance student well-being. But there are so many inequities baked into the system that affect student achievement. We need to recognize that, and allocate resources accordingly.

Bike and Roll to School Day is May 3, 2023 – Register & Save the Date!

Bike AND ROLL to School Day is coming!

For now, get ready by:

  • Step 1: Mark your Calendar –> May 3, 2022, 7:30-8:15 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!
  • Step 4: WE NEED HELP – please join or help us recruit organizers. Contact us!

Decoding the FY24 DCPS Budget

The DCPS Budget for SY24 presents some schools with cuts (in spite of stable enrollment and in spite of DC Council Legislation designed to prevent cuts). It also provides increase in funds to some schools with large populations of students with the greatest need. To help DC families understand the budget, three DC parents (and parents of alumni) have put together analyses of the budget.

Ward 6 parent Dr. Betsy Wolf examines equity and adequacy and compares SY24 to past budgets. See her Twitter “Ted Talk” 🧵 here.

Dr. Mary Levy, highly regarded for her exhaustive experience examining DC Public School budgets, also shared her analysis via a Twitter 🧵.

Finally, Ward 2 Ed Council President and DCPS parent, David Alpert, drafted an explainer of DCPS SY24 budgets, with tips on how to identify whether (and why) your school is sustaining cuts. Read David’s substack here.

W6PSPO Meets Tonight – Mar 21, 2023 @ 7PM

Dear Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization members,

1.  W6PSPO will meet on Tuesday, March 21, at 7 pm.  We will discuss the following:

    a.  Principal Jasmine Brann will share with us upcoming plans for Tyler Elementary to transition to a Bilingual-Arts model;

    b.  School budgets.  We’re hoping each school can share information on their initial school budgets.  We’re particularly interested in learning about any changes in your school budgets from last year.  Elizabeth Corinth who is on the School-Within-School LSAT and a member of the LSAT Collaborative will share what the LSAT Collaborative has learned about the school budgets.

    c.  Bike and Roll to School Day is scheduled for May 3, 2023.  Registration is now open.  The Miner and Payne cheerleaders are planning to perform.  If you school has student groups who are interested in performing, please let us know.

If you registered for a previous W6PSPO meeting, the link you received for that meeting will work for this and future W6PSPO meetings.  If you 

don’t already have the meeting link, you can register at

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAudOqsqDorHdOqNZKiWVfvLL0TPp_az3Wp.After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

2.  Councilmember Allen is sponsoring a Ward 6 Cleanup Day on Saturday, April 1.  Schools are encouraged to organize their own events to spruce up their school grounds.  

3.  We had a very good Middle School Principals Panel Discussion.  Sandra posted a tape of the discussion that you can share with your school communities.

4,  Thanks to all the schools that showed their crossing guards love on Crossing Guard Appreciation Day on March 17!  Your support of our crossing guards is much appreciated.

Hope to see you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

Video: Ward 6 Middle Schools Principals Panel – March 14, 2023

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, President and CEO of the Education Trust.

Join the Ward 6 Middle School Principals’ panel discussion – March 14, 7:00pm

Have middle school on the mind?

All of the principals of destination middle schools for Ward 6 elementary schools will share their schools’ programming, enrichment, and will answer questions.

EVERYONE is welcome! Register via: https://bit.ly/W6PSPO23MSPrincipals

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