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Bike to School Day is May 9 – Save the Date!

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How to plan a fantastic party on wheels with all your school friends….

  • Step 1: Mark your Calendar –> May 9, 7:30-8:30 AM @ Lincoln Park.
  • Step 2: Register your school‘s event (or your participation in the Lincoln Park event)!!
  • Step 3: Tell all your friends about Steps 1 and 2!
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Heather Schoell Written Testimony – DCPS Budget Hearing – April 19, 2018

Thank you for the opportunity to share my perspective. I’m the parent of a 10th grader at Eastern and an 8th grader at Eliot-Hine. I’m the PTO secretary at the former, the PTO president at the latter, and LSAT secretary for both schools. I have been involved in improving public schools since 2005.

Middle School Outcomes. I want to bring to your attention the struggle of middle schools and why the funding allocation is a square peg. Middle schools have only three years to work with students. Eliot-Hine, the feeder school for Maury, Miner, Payne, and SWS @ Goding, has not typically gotten the top-performing students from each feeder’s 5th grade. (Those kids are often taken out of their elementary school at 5th in favor of charters.) Two-thirds of the Eliot-Hine student population comes from Wards 7 and 8. Wherever they come from, Eliot-Hine inherits kids who read significantly below grade level, and staff has only three years to try to mitigate the deficiency.

That’s the way it’s been for years. How is that fair, then, to hold Eliot-Hine to a funding standard as they work to undo the damage that’s been done to these kids, when elementary schools (or other middle schools if they’ve transferred in) have failed to teach them to read? Reading is fundamental. We can’t expect academic success when children aren’t reading at or near grade level, let alone when they’re four or more grade levels behind. And when they can’t read, they can’t do math, social studies, or science. Reading is everything. It’s a struggle to thrive when you feel ashamed, and know that these kids absolutely feel shame about their reading levels.

Until someone stands up for these kids and does something different at both the elementary level for prevention and the middle school level for remediation, we can expect the same outcomes in middle and high school (and beyond). We can expect low levels of academic success, and we can continue to pour money into the same baseline budget formulas based on enrollment, and parents of the top students can continue to choose schools outside of their neighborhood, citing low test scores and/or the unrenovated building.

Funding can remain the same, or you can step up and right this wrong. Make the commitment to show that these kids are worth the investment. Fund a full-time librarian so she can continue to help students find the books that will inspire them to read and help them to do successful research for their IB projects. Fund City Year for Eliot-Hine, which will not only help with small-group differentiation in the classrooms, but would also serve as mentors. Mentors can alter the path of a child’s life.

Heath and Welfare. I’ve testified about this before, but I’ll say it again and again. Take the mental health and social worker positions out of the schools’ budgets! Put the onus on DBH and CFSA to embed their people in schools so students get the help they need and schools can hire teachers instead of social workers. This way it’s more equitable and needs-based, and more direct. This would help with attendance, too, as so much time is wasted in the process of noting chronic absence and doing something to address and mitigate it. And of course, good mental health and welfare directly correlates with the level of academic success. We need to have the courage to admit that what we’re doing isn’t working and fix it.

Conclusion. One thing is for sure: we can’t do the same thing and expect different outcomes. We’re talking about the same problems this year as we did five years ago. That can’t feel good, sitting where you are. It certainly doesn’t feel good to the students who aren’t getting what they need. Invest in prevention in elementary and targeted intervention and remediation in middle school. Have the courage to make big changes that will make a difference. Raise the bar – we rise to the level of our lowest expectations.

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Kristina Vidal Written Testimony – DCPS Budget Hearing – April 19, 2018

I’m writing today to advocate for Eliot-Hine Middle School, an International Baccalaureate (IB) school in Ward 6 that draws a significant number of students from Wards 7 & 8. As an IB school, our curriculum is based around 8 core content areas, and though it aligns with the Common Core standards, the way that content is taught is approached differently. Not surprisingly, an IB school’s staffing model looks a bit different than a typical school, too. DCPS has actually developed guidelines for staffing IB schools, but since Eliot-Hine’s accreditation as an IB school in 2015, we have yet to receive a budget allocation that matches those guidelines. Instead, every year is a struggle to lobby for the resources that our school needs.

For example, in the FY16 School Budget Development Guide developed by DCPS, Middle Years Programme (MYP) schools (grades 5-10) should have “a full-time IB Coordinator”, “classroom teachers for all grade levels; all content areas” and “2 World Language teachers (must service the whole school, the entire year)”and have a “Specialist – Library/Media. I have been an LSAT member for Eliot-Hine for the past two years, and we’ve never received an initial budget that covers those four guidelines. Instead, are forced to use money that would otherwise go to instituting programs like a Saturday Academy to cover deficiencies. if we include FY18/19, we’ve had a half-time Librarian for 3 out of 4 years, we only got grade-level teachers for ELA and Math content as of SY17/18 (and don’t have that for Science or Social Studies), and we’ve only had a single World Language teacher in the building for the last three years.

Why does this matter? At MYP schools, every 8th grader is required to complete a year-long IB Community project, which is based on a need that they see within their community that resonates with them. Research, both skills and access to appropriate resources, is a vital component of this project, and Eliot-Hine students and teachers have leaned on our Librarian to help students complete their projects. The Eliot-Hine community has aggressively pursued library resources in recent years to address known deficiencies in the size, age and quality of our media collection. In the past 3 years, we’ve successfully brought in over $15,000 in new books and audio books to support readers across a broad range of reading levels and interests. We have created a Spanish- language collection from scratch and have been deliberate in selecting books with diverse characters and global themes to support the global-mindedness of our IB curriculum. However, next year’s school budget will yet again only cover a half-time Librarian, which means that our students not be able to get full use out of our collection. We would love to have a fully-funded Librarian position for SY18/19.

For middle schools, the IB Middle Years Programme is an inclusive model, which means that every student benefits from a globally-minded, inquiry-based education with a significant service learning component. Every student should have access to a World Language in this model, and we’ve been able to find ways to make that work with just one language teacher in the school. However, the fidelity of implementation of the IB curriculum is being undermined by the failure of DCPS schools to get students to grade-level proficiency before they enter sixth grade. Eliot-Hine has approximately 150 students this year who require a reading intervention period to help them close the gap to get back on grade level. In SY17/18, many students missed out on an elective, such as Spanish, so that their schedule could accommodate their required intervention block within their class schedule.

At the same time, we have a small (but growing) cohort of students whose achievement is well above grade level, which means that within our classrooms there is often a wide range of ability and mastery of subject content. With only one instructor and no ‘tracking’ of high and low performing students, teachers have to split time to handle re-teaching, grade-level content and enrichment activities within a single class period. With classroom technology, some of the challenges of differentiated instruction could be met with technology, but with only 82 functional laptops for 208 students, we are only able to provide laptops to one content area at a time. And since schools seem to live or die by their PARCC scores, our ELA and Math classes have gotten priority for these resources, which means that Social Studies, Science and Spanish have had to go without. Again, while some schools have a PTO that can bring more laptops into the building, our PTO doesn’t have the means to do so, and even if we did, the lack of clear guidelines in terms of what OCTO will support for classroom technology in the future means we are at risk of buying Chromebooks or other devices that won’t be supported by central resources from SY18/19 onward. We cannot afford to buy devices that will become obsolete.

While we are providing interventions to the students that need them, they’re often in a large-group setting, which makes the one-on-one interaction that really helps students achieve growth much less likely. Our school budget does not provide for Aide positions outside the requirements for our Special Education population, and again, our PTO cannot afford to cover salaries for additional staff to help out in the classroom.

We feel our community would be particularly well-served by a program like City Year, but when we’re scrounging to find the money to fill the holes in our IB staffing model, there is barely enough left over for basics like copy paper and custodial supplies. But on a dollar-for-dollar basis, City Year represents a fantastic bargain for a school like Eliot-Hine, which sorely needs both classroom aides and additional adults in the building to support climate and culture goals as well as student clubs and activities. For the cost of one additional full-time DCPS teacher, we could bring 8-10 more adults into our building to serve our school in a host of ways. We urge you to help us bring this program to our school in SY18/19.

Literacy has already been identified as a primary focus for SY18/19. We feel that bringing both a full-time Librarian and City Year to our school are actions that align extremely well-aligned with this focus and will help to make a difference with our kids, many who have been chronically underserved by DCPS prior to their arrival in middle school.

Sincerely,
Kristina Vidal
Mother to DCPS 4th & 7th graders
PTO Treasurer and LSAT member for Eliot-Hine Middle School

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Michael N. Kruger Testimony – DCPS Budget Hearing – April 19, 2018

Good morning Members of DC Council, thank you for allowing us to come and testify here today.

My name is Mike Kruger and I am a parent of a first grader and rising EC-3 student at J.O. Wilson Elementary.

I am proud of the J.O. Wilson community and, like many parents, feel that the physical building doesn’t provide our children the best learning environment.

J.O. Wilson underwent the beginning of the Phase One renovation in 2013. That was an improvement, but there is still much to be done.

Since then, there have been some improvements. In 2016, the kitchen received a $450,000 renovation that included a new walk-in fridge and second serving line for our 100% free and reduced student population.

In 2016 and 2017, we worked closely with DGS to get the lead out of our water. While that process wasn’t easy, we do appreciate the final result of lead-free water.

Finally, last summer, we received new exterior doors that have improved the attractiveness of the entryway.

However, we still have some real impediments to learning. As you will hear, we are not ADA compliant and need ramps or lifts at our entries plus an elevator. There were verbal commitments to Principal Haggerty that the elevator would be installed this summer. I was informed on April 9th by Ms. Carla Watson that the elevator wouldn’t be installed until FY19. She did say, “We are working to install a lift or ramp this summer,” which isn’t very useful or valuable without an elevator.

The current configuration of the school building is not how it was when the HVAC system was designed and installed. Therefore, we have rooms without heat vents or returns. In the winter, students have to put on their coats to attend “specials” or go to the library. In the summer, they are unable to use some of the rooms due to the heat.

Our façade doesn’t not adequately drain when it rains. Therefore, the concrete chips and falls off. There have been many repairs in the last three years. Each one working as poorly as previously, and only making the school appear in disrepair from the street.

Also, water seeps into classrooms. Every room on the front (south) of the building has water stains on their ceiling. Given health concerns about indoor air quality and mold, it is frustrating this problem is not addressed.

Finally, in the recent PACE scores, J.O. Wilson was the school most in need of modernization in Ward 6. While not an honor we are especially excited about, it is one that clearly demonstrates with data what many parents feel about our building in their hearts. It doesn’t meet the challenges of educating students in the second decade of the twenty-first century.

The funding for the renovation would be in FY24, but it appears the project wouldn’t be completed until August 2026. My first grade son will be a freshman in high school and my daughter, who starts at J.O. Wilson next school year, will be in the third grade before the renovation is completed.

That’s too long. We look forward to having further conversations about how to improve the facility while our children are still there.

I call on the Council to reprogram the budget to ensure the elevator and HVAC issues are addressed this summer, while providing planning dollars for the water damage and falling façade that can be addressed in next year’s budget.

Finally, given the community interest in the school, we’d ask for a small amount of money to help facilitate school and local community engagement to begin planning for the renovation.

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Kaylynn Flemons Testimony – DCPS Budget Hearing – April 19, 2018

Good Afternoon Members of DC Council, thank you for allowing us to come and testify here today.

My name is Kaylynn Flemons and I am a 5th grade student in the wonderful school, J.O. Wilson Elementary. I have attended J.O. Wilson for the entirety of my academic career thus far, going as far back to preschool. You should listen to me because I am a active contributor to my school. Since preschool, I have worked hard to be a role model to fellow students. Last year, I was the treasurer of our student government, got 100% on the Anet test, scored advanced on PARCC, and in 3rd grade won 2nd place in the school’s science fair.

Thank you for giving us the things we needed in the past, including the glass front doors that helped with our safety, but now we need your help with a MAJOR issue. I am here today to share my personal story.
Earlier this year, on February 12th, I had major surgery on my knee. After my surgery, I was restricted to a wheelchair. My mom asked my school, “How is she going to continue with her classes” since most of my classes are on the 3rd floor. My only option was to to try to walk up the stairs. Because of this need, I had to meet with a physical therapist to learn how to use crutches correctly on the stairs. Once I got upstairs on the 3rd floor, I was able to use my wheelchair. I missed several weeks of classes, to include lunch and aftercare, that were on other floors because I was unable to go up and down stairs throughout the day.

This leads to my issue: J.O. Wilson is in desperate need of an elevator. To add to my story, at first going up stairs for me was a struggle, four sets of stairs may not sound like a lot, but from my point in view, and anyone else with similar limitations, let’s just say it’s harder than it looks. When I walk up the stairs, it feels like every time I go up a set, another set of stairs adds on like a infinite journey. It’s not only hard to walk up the stairs, it takes time from class so every time I go up stairs for the day I miss a little bit of class every day.

A new elevator would positively affect not just me, but injured kids, disabled kids, even injured or disabled family members like the time a disabled father came to see his child at a performance but could not go. Kids in my school neighborhood who are disabled cannot go to our neighborhood school.

Also, when some of my peers injure their leg, knee, ankle or foot, worried parents either don’t allow them to go to school or spend a lot of time advocating for them. With an elevator, all of these problems can be solved. If you do decide to help us, I would ask that you make it a top priority since we have actually been promised an elevator in past years.

The elevator is important because of safety. Besides education, safety is the number one thing parents want. Without an elevator, an injured or disabled kid will definitely be at risk of getting more injured. For example, one time while I was walking down the steps, a second grader zoomed down the steps almost knocking me over while I was on the crutches.

You may think “why should she care, she’s leaving this school year”, but I care about my school and I have faced that same problem twice during my time at J.O. Wilson– besides, I’ll have lots of friends and three brothers still at the school next year, and I don’t want anyone to have the same challenging and unsafe experience in the future.

Once again, thanks for listening and we hope the elevator that has been promised for the last few years will actually be installed this year. Please make it a top priority, our safety and education depends on it.

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Suzanne Wells Testimony – DCPS Budget Hearing – April 19, 2018

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Suzanne Wells. My daughter is in 7th grade at Eliot-Hine Middle School, our family’s in-bound neighborhood DC public school. I am on the school’s LSAT.

Last night four Eliot-Hine students attended and reported on the America’s Promise Alliance gala that was at the Newseum. The America’s Promise Alliance seeks to keep five promises to the youth in this country that form the conditions they need to achieve success as adults. One of those promises is an effective education.

The parents and community members of the Eliot-Hine Middle School LSAT expressed our concern to DCPS that the SY18/19 budget allocation for Eliot-Hine is insufficient to meet the needs of the student body given the large percentage of students who are below grade level in reading and math. Last year, 88% of the students performed below grade level or partially met grade level expectations in math, and 73% performed below grade level or partially met grade level expectations in English language arts. That translates into almost 150 students being one or more grade levels behind in reading and almost 175 students not performing at grade level in math. These students came to Eliot-Hine not reading or performing math on grade level. It is not a problem Eliot-Hine created.

Despite focusing almost all of the school’s budget on classroom teaching in core subjects, the LSAT did not believe the current budget allowed for a staffing framework that will support students and empower them to make significant gains in their learning. We requested a relatively small additional outlay from DCPS that would 1) allow the school to partner with City Year, which would provide substantial additional classroom support at a low cost to help the school meet the needs of the large number of students performing significantly below grade level in both reading and math, and 2) fund a full-time librarian to both support student literacy as well as the implementation of Eliot-Hine’s International Baccalaureate program.

City Year is designed to provide one-on-one or group tutoring before, during and after school to help students who are struggling with their academic work. If the school is provided with an additional $105K, it would be able to have ten City Year staff who would work under the direction of the classroom teachers to provide one-on-one or group tutoring to the students who are significantly below grade level in both ELA and math. Individual and small group work has shown to be successful at helping students who are below grade level achieve growth.

The current budget only allows for a 0.5 librarian. A library resource specialist is a critical component in advancing student literacy and supporting student improvement. These specialists also play a central role in supporting the International Baccalaureate curriculum in general and specifically in supporting our 8th grade students as they research and implement their year-long IB Community Service projects. Our school community has invested a lot of effort in building up the library resources, and a full-time librarian also ensures our collection, which includes resources for readers ranging from several grades below grade level to several grades above grade level, is fully accessible and can support our school’s literacy goals and growth targets for individual students. A full-time staff person is also more invested in the school community and has more time to support literacy initiatives outside of the classroom, such as facilitating book clubs or broader school-wide reading initiatives.

In addition, the Eliot-Hine budget does not allow the school to meet DCPS’ own International Baccalaureate staffing requirements that include providing the students with two world languages. Like this year, the school will only offer Spanish, and not a second language.

A student who is performing below grade level at the 6th grade has only a 25% chance of graduating from high school on time. As a city, we should be investing most heavily in those schools with the greatest needs. Let’s not wait till the Eliot-Hine students are about to graduate from high school and determine they are neither college nor career ready. As a city, let’s help them today by adequately supporting Eliot-Hine so these students can reach their full potential. Let’s keep our promise to them that they will get an effective education.

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Katy Thomas Testimony – DCPS Budget Hearing – April 18, 2018

Chairman Grosso, Councilman Allen, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I really appreciate this opportunity since I was out of town for spring break during the original DCPS Budget Oversight hearing in late March. I am not an education policy expert or an education budget analyst. This is our family’s second year participating in DCPS and the first school year I have really tried to pay attention to not only what is happening in our school building, but what is happening with our school system. I clearly picked the wrong year to start taking notice.

I serve as the Civic Liaison for the Miner Elementary PTO, where two of my children are enrolled (Kindergarten & PK3). Miner is our in-bounds neighborhood school, three blocks from our house and is in the home stretch of ending a really great year. We were thrilled to have Bruce Jackson named as permanent principal in February; our new administration team has infused the school with excitement and positive changes for students, teachers, staff, parents and the community.

In preparing for today’s hearing, I reviewed parent testimony from the last time Miner representatives testified before this committee, in February 2016. Three Miner parent leaders cited the years of failed efforts by waves of Miner parents working earnestly to end the cycle of failure for Miner students. Something that struck me from their testimony was the following:
We sit before you as the next wave. Will you help us break this cycle? If you don’t, then be prepared for the saddest Groundhog Day ever – where at next year’s hearing, a new wave of earnest parent leaders will come before you and tell you the same story, as others have done before us. And once again, hundreds of poor black and brown students will again spend another year failing to get the education they deserve. This is an embarrassing cycle that must be broken; we shouldn’t have to work so hard for an amazing public education for our children. That should be just what our kids get.
Sadly, all three of those parent leaders from 2016 have since left Miner for schools with more dynamic programs, presumably where they don’t have to work so hard to get their kids an amazing education. So, here I sit….part of the new wave of earnest parents seeking more for Miner kids.

Like many other DCPS Title 1 schools, Miner has dealt with a wide variety of challenges throughout the past, some within the control of the school community, but the majority a result of a failed system. Many of the challenges for us could be resolved with a more common-sense based budget. The Miner FY2018-19 budget fails to provide enough resources for us to continue to afford a STEM teacher, adequate reading intervention support and SPED inclusion/resources. Sixty-six percent of our student body is classified as “at-risk”, sixteen percent of the student body has special needs with IEP’s, our math scores are 16 percent, ELA scores are 8 percent and we continue to face declining enrollment. The commitment by our new school leaders, combined with a more involved and engaged parent body signals a positive new direction, but our new earnest administration leaders and parent body cannot do this alone.

FACILITIES
Miner’s current building is relatively new, yet our outdoor campus is in desperate need of comprehensive renovations to provide safe, suitable and age-appropriate outdoor learning and play-based experiences for our students. One of the best and most recent examples of investing in outdoor learning facilities is just a few blocks away at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary. By partnering with school leadership, parent leaders and community members, all Capitol Hill families can be proud of the improvements at Ludlow-Taylor. Miner parents, school leaders and community members are ready and willing to make that success story happen at our school.

Throughout the past few years, Miner’s outdoor campus has been the victim of a number of vandalism incidents, including arson during non-school hours. A top priority for our PTO is to work with all appropriate city agencies to install a complete upgrade of our outdoor security systems to address the continued irresponsible use and vandalism during non-school hours. We understand DCPS has initiated a process to identify the many outdoor security needs, yet the most robust plans cannot make an impact if left unfunded. Based upon conversations with our ANC leaders and community advocates involved in neighborhood playground renovations, we estimate this endeavor will require a minimum $1 million budget in order to update all outdoor security systems, play areas and learning spaces. We strongly advocate for a deliberate and cohesive approach to improving and securing the campus.

AT-RISK FUNDING
The Washington Post article by Perry Stein published April 14, 2018 put a new spotlight on how DCPS budgeting is not meeting its obligations for our schools and more importantly, at-risk children within our schools. This article comes on the heels testimony you have recently heard from many witnesses, including DCPS budget analyst volunteer extraordinaire Mary Levy, who pointed out to you in her March 28 testimony, DCPS continues to use at-risk funds to supplant core program funding in direct violation of the law. Additionally, the October 2017 report from the Office of the D.C. Auditor (ODCA) provided great detail regarding schools being forced to use at-risk resources to fund core staffing positions and other fundamental school needs. ODCA reported Miner is compliant with CSM standards, only because 1.5 related arts positions were funded through at-risk dollars. “ Five of the eight schools in this study—Bancroft, Barnard, Miner, Nalle, and Moten—funded some of their related-arts positions using supplemental at-risk dollars. Without the positions funded by at-risk dollars, Barnard, Miner, and Moten would have fallen short of the related arts staffing levels prescribed in the CSM.”
The recommendation from the October 2017 ODCA report to the Council was to provide careful oversight on how at-risk funding is being utilized and whether those uses are consistent with your legislative intent. The Post article from last weekend quoted Chairman Grosso as recognizing the seriousness of the problem, but having no solutions to remedy this widely-acknowledged breach of intent. In a city brimming with smart, highly compensated, Type A personality professionals, I reject the sentiment that there are no avenues to hold the school system accountable. We don’t have the luxury to hit the pause button to get through the scandal de jour; students still need educating, buildings still need maintenance and at-risk kids still need more resources.
The ODCA report also highlighted the wholly inadequate budget made available to schools with students facing extraordinary challenges outside the classroom. At four schools—Noyes, Miner, Nalle, and Moten—interviewees stated that the challenge of serving needy students from struggling communities overwhelmed the social-emotional resources of the school. There is “never enough mental health support,” one teacher stated, because “students see so much outside of school that they bring to the classroom.” Another teacher explained that even the outstanding social-emotional staff at her school cannot meet the needs of children who have limited capacity to learn because they are trying to survive. Similarly, a parent who stated that his school needed more counselors noted that, “A lot of these kids are raising themselves.”
I echo the recent testimony of fellow Ward 6 parent leader, Heather Schoell, who pressed this committee to explain why so much non-education support, such as social workers and psychologists consumes such a significant amount of the education budget. Schools cannot succeed in doing their prescribed job of teaching when they have to cut the number of teacher positions in order to provide social/emotional support. Schools receive resources from other agencies such as MPD for school security offices, Department of Health for school nurses and Department of Transportation for crossing guards, yet are required to use education funds to pay for social/emotional supports. The Department of Health and Child and Family Services are designed to provide the means to address social and emotional support and should be providing the necessary budget to meet these needs for our school children.

TECHNOLOGY
Last fall, I was encouraged to read then-Chancellor Wilson’s commitment to address inadequate technology funding of DCPS schools in his response to the ODCA report. Specifically, the report made four recommendations to DCPS, including one focused on technology:
Recommendation #4:
DCPS should create and make public a multi-year technology needs plan to define and provide adequate technology to each school. The plan should include expected costs and and planned funding sources.
DCPS Response: DCPS agrees with recommendation #4. Prior to the issuance of this draft audit report, DCPS’ Office of Information Technology began work to develop a comprehensive Technology Roadmap. Our roadmap includes five key areas: devices, infrastructure services, shared technology platforms, technology proficiency and data reporting. These core focus areas will provide mass enhancements in all areas of concern as detailed in the report. To date, the initial draft of our Technology Roadmap has been shared internally within DCPS’ central administration to obtain feedback from internal stakeholders. Additional feedback will be sought from school-based leaders, teachers, students, parents and members of the community. Upon completion and approval of the Technology Roadmap, the associated funding requests will be presented during the FY19 budget process.

The response from ODCA recognized DCPS’ response to draft a Technology Roadmap, but pushed back with the need for a multi-year technology plan to that defines and funds the school system’s technology needs while also providing ongoing maintenance and upgrades of existing equipment. Chancellor Wilson’s response to the ODCA report was the first and last I’ve heard or read about a DCPS Technology Roadmap or any funding requests for FY19.

I urge the Committee to inquire on the status of the Technology Roadmap, a timeline for engagement of school-based leaders, teachers, students, parents and members of the community and whether students and schools will have to wait yet another year before the overwhelming need for technology is addressed. At minimum, any DCPS Technology Roadmap should standardize how many devices are required per classroom/student in each grade; how many Smart Boards/projectors and other technology-based teaching implements are required and the frequency with which each should be refreshed. Those identified needs and requirements should be fulfilled by DCPS or individual school budgets provided enough resources to meet the requirements.

Prior to the start of SY2016-17, DCPS removed eighty (80) computers from Miner that were approximately a decade old. In return, central office provided thirty (30) laptops for teacher and staff use, but the devices were configured for students instead of staff, which made actual utilization by staff a headache. To mitigate the overwhelming need for additional computers, a staff member acquired a small number of used computers, yet significant needs remain. The 2017 ODCA report quotes a central office staffer noting, “Miner student technology is in desperate need of an upgrade.”

Current DCPS budget guidance on technology is for schools themselves use their budget to refresh one-fourth of technology, so that everything ends up getting refreshed every four years. However, budget allocations don’t provide anywhere near enough to refresh one-fourth of computers per year. To illustrate the bare minimum budget needs:
Twenty (20) general education classrooms times five (5) computers/class (average) x $500 per computer (cheapest student computer on menu from DCPS) = $50,000 x 1/4 = $12,500 per year from the school’s budget. This illustration does not include teacher computers, tablets, printers or projectors or any other technology, nor does it include special education classrooms, specials classrooms OR providing more than five computers per classroom.

For FY19, Miner’s proposed budget provided approximately $5,000 for “at-risk technology”. The budget guidance for at-risk technology states: To successfully compete in a global workforce, all students must be able to be comfortable with and capable of using basic technology. Technology in schools must also support instructional goals and support online assessments. In order to ensure all DCPS students have an equitable distribution of, and access to technology, DCPS is allocating additional funds for technology to schools with at least 25% students identified as at-risk for academic failure.
This is a really inspiring statement that comes nowhere near reality. At a November 2017 DCPS budget field hearing, I challenged Chancellor Wilson and his staff to perform their jobs on the technology utilized by Miner students and staff. Today, I pose the same challenge to members of this committee and the Council at large. I suspect living up to the at-risk technology statement detailed above and investing in technology would soon find its way to becoming a budget priority if my challenge was accepted.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE INITIATIVE
Miner is a participating school in DCPS’ Restorative Justice (RJ) Initiative for both community building and as a response to student behavior. We have seen an overwhelming reduction of suspensions this year compared to last. For this initial year of RJ implementation at Miner, a handful of trained adults are using reactive circles in order to respond to occurrences of misbehavior; teachers are encouraged to conduct community building (proactive) circles; and one of our fifth grade teachers will soon begin hosting an optional morning PD for teachers on restorative justice practices. Over the course of the next two school years, Miner will fully develop the RJ program so long as budget resources are made available.

Unfortunately, Miner is not provided with adequate resources from DCPS to ensure RJ is comprehensively implemented schoolwide. Our administrative leaders have had to expend their limited time tracking down and applying for non-DCPS grant funds in hopes to achieve the full positive impacts of RJ. Additionally, the middle and high schools in our feeder pattern (Eliot Hine and Eastern) are not participating in the same manner as Miner in this highly-effective program due to the lack of funding. Successful implementation of RJ takes three to five years in order to fully develop the skill set among staff, teachers and students. It would be a significant step backwards for a student moving from an elementary school with RJ into a middle school or high school without RJ programs implemented. DCPS has a publicly stated goal of developing a three-year ongoing implementation and support plan to scale the program; I urge the committee to fully fund the RJ program and ensure the DCPS implementation plan will prioritize scaling within the same feeder pattern, rather than randomly increasing the number of schools participating each year.

Despite this being the first year I have taken the time to educate myself about our school system, I sincerely appreciate the years and years of hard work this committee and countless others have invested to make improvements for our students. Clearly there is more work to be done, more investment to be made and more accountability and oversight to happen. I look forward to working with the committee to ensure we are doing everything possible to set our children up for success.

Thank you again for the opportunity to be here today.

Status

DME’S Advisory Group on Community Use of Public Space – Public Meeting April 25

The Advisory Group on Community Use of Public Space will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, April 25th at 6:30pm at the Woodridge Library, 1801 Hamlin St NE, Washington, DC 20018.  The Advisory Group, called together by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education and comprising residents of the District of Columbia who utilize public spaces, will discuss initial recommendations, community use of non-permitted spaces, and the deliverable schedule.

The role of the Advisory Group is to provide advice and recommendations to the DME regarding District policies and procedures related to community use of public spaces, including fields, gyms, classrooms, meeting rooms, and other District facilities.

Goals of the Advisory Group include ensuring equitable access to public space, streamlining the reservation of public spaces, increasing transparency around processes and fees, and encouraging greater use of public spaces overall.

Individuals and representatives of organizations who wish to comment at the public meeting are asked to notify Alex Cross in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education in advance by phone at (202) 727-9543 or by email at alexander.cross@dc.gov. Individuals should provide their names, addresses, telephone numbers, and organizational affiliation, if any, by the close of business on April 23, 2018, and should submit one (1) electronic copy of their testimony in advance for the permanent record.                        

Date:                     April 25, 2018

Time:                    6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

 Location:             Woodridge Library

                                1801 Hamlin St NE, Washington, DC 20018

 

Contact:               Alex Cross

Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education

(202) 727-9543

alexander.cross@dc.gov