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CHPSPO Meeting April 23

Dear Capitol Hill Public School Parent Organization members,

CHPSPO will not meet on the third Tuesday of April because of Spring break. Our next meeting will be Wednesday, April 23 (note that we will not meet on April 22 as previously planned due to a hearing the Public Charter School Board is holding on April 22). The meeting will be from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

The Mayor’s Fiscal Year 15 DCPS budget was released on Thursday. Here is a link to the budget:
http://cfo.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/ocfo/publication/attachments/ga_dcps_chapter_2015.pdf

The City Council is holding a hearing on the budget on April 17. If you are in town, and want to testify, the hearing will start at 10 a.m. in room 500 at the Wilson building. Contact Jamaal Jordan at jjordan or call 724-8061.

Mayor’s Budget Townhall

Monday, April 21, 6:30-8:30 PM

Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan, 215 G St., NE

http://budget.dc.gov/community-meetings

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Boundary Review

Most of you received robo calls about the upcoming community meetings being held on the school boundaries and feeder patterns. These are important meetings to make your voices heard. There will be community meetings this Saturday at Dunbar and Saturday, April 26, also at Dunbar.

Center City Community Meeting #1
Saturday, April 5
Dunbar High School – Cafeteria
101 N St. NW
Information Fair: 9 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Presentation: 9:45 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Working Group: 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Center City Community Meeting #2
Saturday, April 26
Dunbar High School – Cafeteria
101 N St. NW

Information Fair: 9 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Presentation: 9:45 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Working Group: 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Visit http://dme.dc.gov/boundaries for more information.

Suzanne Wells

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Bike to School Day is May 7 – have you registered your school?

BTSD_2inch_ColorHealth and Wellness teams, Safe Routes to School committees, and cycling enthusiasts, have you registered your school for Bike to School Day?

The big day is Wednesday, May 7. Register your school here (for goodies from DC’s Department of Transportation) and plan your event or help plan a joint school event at Lincoln Park!

How can you help? Easy!

  • Reach out to your favorite bike-friendly group or business to solicit healthy breakfast snacks for kids, coffee for adults, reusable bags to distribute goodies at the Lincoln Park pit stop (Vigilante Coffee, Pound, Port City Java, Whole Foods, Georgetown Sports, Medstar Georgetown, DC Water, The Daily Rider, Bicycle Space, and Clif Kids have all supported us in the past)
  • Write a small grant request (from Capitol Hill Community Foundation, who always generously support us) to fund snack purchase and National Parks and Rec permit
  • Bring folding tables to Lincoln Park to set up give aways, snacks
  • Reach out to your favorite bike-friendly group, personality, local celebrity to say a few encouraging words at the event, and to help launch bike trains to school (Gabriella Boston, Capitol Hill Martial Arts & Fitness Academy, Eazy 8/Kathy Pugh, CM Tommy Wells, the Long-Short Walk, National Center for Safe Routes to School, and DC’s Dept of Transportation have supported us in the past)
  • Score useful swag for the kiddos (reflectors, bells, water bottles) to hand out
  • Arrange for local safety groups like MPD, DCFD to participate
  • Coordinate and lead bike trains to your schools
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY – get the word out to your school communities, local media and community groups to make sure they participate, and join in the fun!

Contact us at chpspo at gmail dot com to volunteer.

Brush up on your bike safety skills and sure you and your family attend Kidical Mass DC’s ABCs of Family Biking on May 3, 11-2 @ Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan (215 G Street, NE).

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Lottery results are in: Are you considering Payne ES for your child?

If yes, then please join the Friends of Payne, including current Payne parents, for an informal meeting on April 19:

  • What: an opportunity to hear from current Payne parents about their kids’ experiences at the school, including with the early childhood Tools of the Mind program.
  • Who: all prospective Payne parents are welcome!
  • Where: at the home of a member of Friends of Payne at 15th and A Streets, SE. For more details and to RSVP, please contact Amy Mauro at friendsofpayne@gmail.com.
  • When: April 19 at 10 a.m.

 

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Mayoral Candidate Responses to Citywide Education survey – #DCISION14

CHPSPO was proud to work with other education advocacy groups in the city to develop a questionnaire for the mayoral candidates focused on education issues.  Candidates Muriel Bowser, Jack Evans, Andy Shallal and Tommy Wells submitted the following responses to the questionnaire. Read the responses here.

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DC Public Schools FY15 Budget Hearing Testimony by Martin Welles, Amidon-Bowen ES

Good Evening Mayor Gray, Deputy Mayor for Education Smith, and State Superintendent of Education Aguirre:

My name is Martin R. Welles, Esq. and I have three children at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School and am President of the PTA.  While I am primarily testifying today on behalf of my interest in improving Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, it should also be noted that I am one of the Ward 6 Representatives on Deputy Mayor Smith’s Student Assignment and Boundary Committee, and have also recently been named as one of the parent advisors on Chancellor Henderson’s newly formed Parent Cabinet.  I think my interests as a parent are aligned with my interests in trying to have high quality educational options throughout our city.  The comments I make tonight, however, I make as a parent.

It takes a partnership to reform schools and I want to take this time to thank you each of you for allowing me to work with you over the years.  Mayor Gray, we have accomplished many of our goals at Amidon-Bowen, such as increasing enrollment from 229 students to 372 projected for next year (63% increase).   We had a nice 10 point gain in our reading and 4 point gain in our math scores last year and I’m told that preliminary indications demonstrate another successful year is in store for testing.  You can also see a noticeable change in school culture.  We have many partners in our success – from Everybody Wins!, DC United, Playworks, Target Foundation and Kid Power, and of course your office, to name just a few.  Deputy Mayor Smith, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to work with you on the student assignment and boundary issues – I feel our work has only just begun there.  Superintendent Aguirre we had a great partnership in improving Landsburgh Park while you were Director of Parks and Rec – the new basketball courts and community garden have taken hold, and the new dog park should be constructed this Spring.

Mayor Gray, although this is an operating budget meeting, I do want to take this opportunity to thank you for the capital improvements to the school – the Phase 1 renovation, playground renovation, and installation of the new windows which is scheduled to start as soon as Mother Nature cooperates. We are not done at Amidon-Bowen with capital improvements, and we really need to begin working on the renovations to the swing space soon to be vacated by Appletree Charter School, the gymnasium, cafeteria, and additional classrooms in the library.  We are growing rapidly and providing a standard classroom for all children – especially a high risk population like those at Amidon-Bowen is paramount.

There are a couple areas in the 2015 Fiscal Year Budget that I would like for you to consider as they pertain to Amidon-Bowen, and more generally across the District.

 

  •          Realignment of classrooms due to Growth

We are adding a third section of kindergarten and a third section of 2nd grade due to our growth.  We received the money for the operating costs, but there was no corresponding allocation for capital improvements.  We have the space, but we need capital money so that children are in the same wings as their cohorts.  Otherwise, one section of Kindergarten and one section of 2nd grade will be remotely located from their peers. (see attached drawing) It is an easy fix and we have the space, we just need to combine two small rooms in the kindergarten wings.  This will involve knocking down a wall this summer.  Then, we need to relocate the art and dance rooms so that they are in the space being vacated by Appletree Charter School. This will free up classroom space in the academic wing.  It’s relatively simple and straightforward – just building a couple walls, doors and installing the flooring and walls.  Relocating the art and dance rooms from the academic wing into the “specials” area will allow all classrooms to be in the same area with their peers.  Finally, we will need to install new lighting and doors and a fresh coat of paint in the parent resource room so that we can increase family engagement.  The FY 15 budget accounts for the operating costs, but it doesn’t account for the capital improvements necessary. We have other capital improvement projects to complete the school, but accommodating the 3rd section of Kindergarten and 2nd Grade is urgent and necessary prior to the start of next year. My estimate, unverified by DGS, is that these projects could be completed for approximately $300,000.

  •          Extended Day Program

I support an extended day program at Amidon-Bowen and also support year-round schooling.  There is a line on the budget for extended day next year.  However, it is my understanding that there is a collective bargaining agreement in place with the Teacher’s Union that requires a vote of support from the Union in order to extend the day.  Our teachers work long days and have many challenges and they should be fairly compensated for their work.  I believe Charter Schools have more flexibility in the work day requirements and so, if possible, I would like to see a leveling of the playing field in this respect.  Public schools, especially the lowest 40 performing, need more operations funding so that additional teachers/staff can be hired during the day to alleviate some of the work load and make the extended day program a reality at DCPS.  I would like to see funding for extended day as a line item on the budget, but also have some sort of tie-in to the “regular” work-day funding.  For example, the budget could reflect an additional half-day salary for each grade contingent upon the implementation of the extended day program.  This could give teachers the opportunity for a more flexible schedule during the “regular” day.  I just do not think that a vote by the Teacher’s Union should determine whether there should be an extended day program.

  •          Summer School/Year Round School

I also support year-round schooling and I think adding summer school at each school – especially the lower performing schools is an important first step in this initiative.  When summer school locations are consolidated, the children who need the educational continuity the most just do not attend a remote school – even with busing provided.  Therefore, I would like to see a 2015 budget allocation for summer school at Amidon-Bowen for Amidon-Bowen students, and other students on a space available basis.

  •          Charter School Discharges in October/February

Like clock-work, Amidon-Bowen receives two waves of students discharged from Charter Schools.  The first wave comes in October, after the official count day and after budget money has attached to each Charter and Public school.  The second wave comes around February before the DC CAS test.  Generally speaking, the children who arrive at Amidon-Bowen in October are children with behavioral issues (attendance, discipline etc.).  The February wave generally consists of students whose behavior might be fine, but are basic or below basic in reading and math levels.  While these may be generalizations, it defies logic to think that a Charter school would discharge a well-behaved, high performing student.  I have heard that the children who are nudged out of Charter schools because they are basic and below basic are sometimes promised an opportunity to re-enroll in the next academic year.  Because they re-enroll as “new” students the subsequent school year, the test scores for those children do not count.  If public schools, like Amidon-Bowen, are doing the heavy lifting for the children Charter schools discharge, then there needs to be extra budget money allocated for the October and February influx of children at Amidon-Bowen. I therefore ask for additional money in Amidon-Bowen’s 2015 budget to accommodate the October and February influx of Charter school students.

I thank you for your time and I look forward to partnering with each of you again this year.  We have a lot of work to do, but I am proud to be able to send my children to public school in the District of Columbia.

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Elizabeth Bacon

Parent at the Capitol Hill Cluster School and Vice President of the Capitol Hill Cluster School PTA

418 7th Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002

Fiscal Year 2015 Budget for Public Schools in the District of Columbia

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cardozo Education Campus

1200 Clifton Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009