Testimony of Andrea Tucker
PTA President, J.O. Wilson Elementary
to the DC Council Committee on Education
April 14, 2016
For more information: andreatuckerhomes (at) gmail (dot) com
Good evening, Chairman Grosso and members of the Education Committee, and thank you for holding this budget hearing and inviting public testimony. We appreciate the opportunity to be here to represent our school at JO Wilson Elementary. We are Title I school that serves kids from Preschool through Fifth grade and we located in the heart of the NoMa/H Street community.
My name is Andrea Tucker and I am proud parent of three children at J.O. Wilson. I am also the President of the school’s PTA, a native Washingtonian and a proud Alumni of J.O. Wilson. J.O. Wilson holds a special place in my heart. I have watched the school grow over the years as I have lived in the community right behind the school growing up.
My early education at J.O. provided me with the tools and opportunities I needed to succeed and I’m confident that it’s going to provide that same excellent education and opportunities for my children.
J.O. Wilson’s enrollment has grown tremendously in the five years since my children have been in attendance there and this year we have more than 500 children that attend our school. Our numbers are continuously increasing yearly and we are maxing out capacity. According to the Deputy Mayor’s annual facilities review, we are currently at 96.4% capacity – one of the highest among Ward 6 elementary schools. Based on our enrollment projections for the 2016-2017 school year, we will be at almost 99% utilization come this time next year.
J.O. Wilson services children from all over the city and most of them are there all day. We have 77% of our children that participate in aftercare, which is one of the highest rates in the city. Our Early Childhood program starts kids off on the right foot with a 94% attendance rate, which also is one of the highest rates in the city. Most of our students stay at J.O. Wilson through the 5th grade. We have 3 classes on every grade level which is unusual for an elementary school and an important first step to fixing our city’s difficult middle school challenges.
Our successes could quickly be set back if our facilities continue to languish and do not meet the high expectations that we expect from our scholars. Our children should be proud to come into a school that is warm and inviting and they feel comfortable learning in. Despite the challenges we face at our school, some of which are an inaccessible and non ADA compliant facility, a building that is literally falling apart in places, a lack of gym space and an outdated and inefficient cafeteria, we’ve succeeded.
The city has done a wonderful job with the High Schools, it’s now time to focus on our Elementary Schools to create strong pathways. Elementary School is the beginning of our children’s education and without a firm foundation and adequate facilities our children cannot even advance and be prepared for the next level of education. Our students at J.O. Wilson have lots of challenges already. Many of our families are impacted by poverty, homelessness or other unconventional living situations, as well as language barriers. In fact, for the upcoming school year it is projected that almost half our students will be considered “at risk” of academic failure. Let’s not let the conditions of their school building be a challenge as well. Thank you.