Support Our Schools: Fix the Budget and the Process

DC City Council

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BACKGROUND

[updated May 12, 2017]

The Council tried to avoid what has become a perennial drama around school budgets calling on the State Superintendent for Education to convene a Working Group to make realistic recommendations for the coming year. The Working Group recommended a 3.5% increase in per student funding of the Uniform per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF).

The Mayor initially incorporated a 1.5% increase. On May 11th, she proposed an additional, one time, 0.5% increase, which brings the operating budget increase to just 2%, short of the 3.5% the Working Group called for. Even with the Mayor's proposed revision, for the third year in a row, investment in school budgets on a per student basis has declined in real terms.

It is not surprising that given the failure to keep pace with inflation and the fact that local DCPS school communities are presented with budgets at the 11th hour, that hundreds attended the recent Education Committee hearing on the budget to air concerns and ask for help resourcing their programs.

The Mayor also touts her commitment to school modernizations. But, her proposed six-year capital plan for school modernizations represents the lowest commitment to that critical effort since at least 2007. The Mayor's average six-year commitment falls more than $320 million below the average for the previous nine years.

Our school age population is growing quickly and the demands on our education infrastructure will only increase in the coming years. If we were done modernizing all our DCPS schools and just had to maintain them, the decreased investment might make sense, but as of 2017 34 DCPS schools have yet to be fully modernized and are not in design or construction. These schools and communities deserve investment commensurate with those already completed.

Coalition for DC Public Schools (C4DC)
Petition by
Washington, District of Columbia

To: DC City Council
From: [Your Name]

Support Our Schools: Fix the Budget and the Process

We urge the Council to:

* Increase the foundation amount by at least 3.5% -- a 2% increase over Mayor Bowser’s original proposal.

* Demand a report from DCPS outlining how those addition funds will be used exclusively in schools and how they will be used to address shortfalls identified in this budget process.

* Require DCPS to start a school planning and budget process for SY18-19 in October 2017 developed in partnership with school communities that is based on needs assessments, including for potential enrollment changes, and programming and services targeting at risk and special populations.

* Insist that the Mayor present a capital plan by January 2018 showing how the city will complete the modernization of all DCPS schools within eight years including those that have to date received only partial upgrades.

Signed,
DC Public School families, teachers, school officials, and community members