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Cathy Reilly Testimony – DCPS Public Budget Hearing for FY20

DCPS Budget Hearing – November 27, 2018
Phelps High School- Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators Budget Testimony Cathy Reilly

It is my hope that one of the lenses DCPS will use as it crafts the budget for this year is that of how best to support the public infrastructure of DCPS schools. This would have to include an Education Plan written with your stakeholders, this is different than goals.

Middle Schools are our missing link and if we are not mindful our neighborhood high schools could follow. Mayor Bowser won in 2014 on a promise of Alice Deal for All. DCPS has opened up MacFarland MS and is poised to open a middle school at Coolidge. I support the elementary parents and neighborhood associations in the Shaw community in wanting their middle school in that central location. The elementary and neighborhood energy is the future of DCPS. Further, 3 of the 4 State Board of Education members elected came out strong as supportive of a strong DCPS neighborhood system. I hope that DCPS also has a plan for a middle school in southeast where we have only one feeder school to Woodson that also feeds into Eastern. This was the recommendation of the Student Assignment Committee after extensive outreach.

The funds are there for Banneker on time and within the generous budget allotted. We support their modernization on site as has been the recommendation. It is across from Howard University and they have access there to extensive recreation facilities. We can see from existing projects like School Without Walls, Roosevelt, Coolidge that a modernized building can be beautiful and functional.

The decisions so far this year have been to expand application enrollment through the Bard Early College Program, the Coolidge Early College Program and now a 300 student projected expansion at Banneker. We have not seen a full environmental impact study that would tell us how this might affect the existing high school structure DCPS and the city has already invested in. Announcing them both this fall has had a chilling effect on the remaining high schools working to improve and increase their own programs and enrollments. DCPS is separating students who aspire to be in a selective environment from students in their neighborhood schools, why? We could have looked at more programs like the one at Coolidge or other academies like the former Business and Finance Academy at Woodson.

This is what a further investment in our neighborhood infrastructure could look like:

The Ward 4 transition to middle schools should include the funding to expand the education campus pre-k 3 and pre-k 4 seats. It should also have a plan in place to ease the transition by ensuring that staff can follow their students and that remaining staff that stay to keep the education campus middle school programs operating, are retained with good future options. This will require a funding stream.

At the high school level, DCPS should use its advantage as a system. Each school should not have to operate essentially as an LEA. There should be support and economical purchasing options for technology and a technology plan that promotes this as well as flexibility at each site.
Most importantly DCPS should unveil a system of resources and supports that will meet students where they are at each high school. This should happen prior to the release of the report cards that will initiate the STAR rating system. It could include smaller classes, enhanced summer programs, rich extracurricular opportunities.

DCPS should be able to offer multiple language options across our schools instead of just two years of Spanish at many comprehensive high schools. We should have ways to share the fantastic career opportunities offered at a number of our schools as well as advanced math classes.

We would be delighted to work on this with you.

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