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Testimony of Heather Schoell ▪ Eliot-Hine Middle School PTO President ▪ Eastern High School PTO Secretary ▪ LSAT Secretary for Both Schools ▪ 21-year Ward 6 Resident ▪ Budget Hearing 4/27/17

Budgets:

I’m not at all confident that allocations for schools are accurate. At-Risk funds are supposed to be used at the discretion of the schools. I’m on the LSAT at both Eastern and Eliot-Hine, and those funds were not broken out. This is a blatant violation of the mandate that At-Risk funds supplement regular funding, not supplant it, and that the funds be separate in the budget. Beth Bacon may have just figured out how schools were shorted in the per-pupil allocations, but errors shouldn’t take a data wizard. Budgets should be transparent, and we should have more time to work with them and more autonomy within them.

At Eliot-Hine, despite seeing a 13.3% projected increase in enrollment, the school’s total budget will be cut by 3.6% from FY17 levels. Not only that, but the initial budget allocation for Eliot- Hine MS was developed per the DCPS Comprehensive Staffing Model, not as School Budget Development Guide, section 3.1.16, indicates it will be developed for IB programs. This results in an understaffing of approximately 5.9 positions in the budget allocation and 3.5 positions in the final staffing model (assuming At-Risk funds will be used to supplement the level of staffing required for the IB programme; At-Risk funds add 2 additional teaching positions to the school). And if Beth is right, Eliot-Hine was shorted $29,000. That’s a huge difference to us – that means art supplies, music supplies, cleaning supplies, classroom books, copy paper, and toilet paper (or conversely, none of those things).

Though our LSAT was strongly against it, DCPS rejected our petitions to support the proper IB model and changed our budget to include 2 half time positions. Half time teachers are not highly effective teachers – literally, according to their own data, there are no DCPS half time teachers who have been rated highly effective. The Chancellor’s latest email missive read, “Research indicates that the number one factor leading to increased student achievement is the presence of an effective teacher. More than any other factor, a student’s academic growth is influenced most positively when they are taught by a talented and caring teacher.” And yet, our staffing model that they’re insisting on is setting us up to fail.

There’s no one for us to tell. No one will listen.

DBH in Schools:

Talk about messing up the budget! A middle school with 71%at risk students can’t be without social/emotional support. Because of DBH’s sudden decision to pull counselors out of schools right before school budgets hit, Eliot-Hine had to allocate $100,000 to make up for this loss. That means we’re down to one world language teacher for the whole school. There goes language level differentiation. That also means we’re down to a half time librarian – our library will be locked half the week. That means our teachers won’t be able to have students do research projects, which is essential to an IB curriculum. The classrooms don’t have but a few computers – for a whole class to work, they have to go to the library!

Modernization:

In 2008, Eliot was merged with Hine, and at that time, it was supposed to be renovated. My daughter Olivia was in 1st grade. In 2010, Eliot-Hine was slated for modernization in FY13. Olivia was in 3rd grade, and the reno was to be done while she was in 6th grade. It seemed so far in the future. It was pushed back again and again until FY16, when the reno was to be complete in time for her 8th grade year. But it happened again, and now work is to be done in 2020, when Olivia will have just graduated from high school. This is shameful. All students deserve a school with heathy air to breathe. They deserve to hear the lesson, and see the lesson. We need to modernize all schools so they at least have functioning light, acoustics, and climate control.

Failure Shouldn’t Be an Option:

Most of what is on this page could be solved with common sense. The new chancellor has said he is 100% in favor of supporting social/emotional needs and the opportunity for students to advance. Our principal should be allowed to lead our school with her vision and management, which supports the Chancellor’s vision exactly, but we’re cut off at the knees and set up to fail. Eliot-Hine needs budget autonomy and oversight by people who actually know and support the IB programme.

I wish I could be there today because you always ask good follow-up questions, but I have a lunchtime club at Eliot-Hine every Thursday, and it’s more important to me that I don’t let the kids down than be one of 100 at the hearing.

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