Danica Petroshius Testimony – At-Risk School Funding and School Based Budgeting and Transparency Amendment Acts of 2019 – June 26, 2019

Testimony of Danica Petroshius

Hearing on Transparency

June 26, 2019

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am Danica Petroshius, parent of two children at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan (CHML).

I strongly support the At-Risk School Funding Transparency Amendment Act of 2019 and have attached specific ideas for strengthening it. I also support the School-Based Budgeting and Transparency Amendment Act and the Public School Transparency Amendment At of 2019.  Together, all of these bills will move us a step closer to transparency in our education system.

Today I testify on behalf of the over 300 parents and community members who signed a letter asking for transparency around sexual abuse – and some of those parents are here with me today.

Almost everything I have had to testify about over the past 8 years as a parent in DCPS has boiled down to lack of transparency: hiding data on lead in the water, hiding data on crumbling school assessments, preventing parents access to basic meetings and activities; lack of equity in access to FOIA and opaque budgeting practices.

But the bottom fell out of transparency 2 weeks ago. On June 8th, we at CHML were told that an employee of Springboard was removed for misconduct. On June 10th we were told by email that “no Springboard student was involved.” Only on June 11th – when WAMU broke the story – did we find out a student minor at our school was the victim of sexual abuse. And, we found out that Springboard ran programs in 21 sites across DC and had no record of its background checks and was therefore in breach of contract. On June 14, Fox 5 let us know that there was a second allegation against the same person.

For parents, panic and fear set in; we hugged our children and we consoled each other.

We asked city leaders for answers to what happened, why communication failed and what policies are in place to protect students.

We began to research and found out:

  • There are at least 13 charter and DCPS schools with serious sexual assault cases since November 2014 – this is not a one-off, this is a system problem
  • There is no one system-wide safety policy for all kids in every district in DC
  • There is no centralized data system for tracking background checks across systems
  • There is no regular monitoring and compliance to ensure the safety of students
  • We wrote a letter to city leaders on June 12 asking for answers to our questions
  • We shared our research and questions in addition to policy solutions (you have all of this in attachments)

The response from the city completely lacks transparency, urgency and care.

  • There has been no answer to our letter to city leaders, only vague emails that only lead to more questions (I have annotated those emails in the attachments)
  • We have had no action from Council to demand answers on our specific situation, no call for a hearing, no response to our recommended solutions beyond the School Safety Act
  • This year Council did start to improve systems through the School Safety Act which asks districts to implement policies and trainings over the next 2 years, and for OSSE to provide models. Two years is too long to wait.
  • The School Safety Act is a start, but it does not improve and expand data collection and reporting; it does not centralize reporting, monitoring and compliance; it does not ensure all children have the same level of protections; and it does not mandate a full review of our system to ensure our city agencies implement the gold standard for protecting students.
  • There are pending DCPS FOIAs because there is no transparency. Yet parents in charter schools where Springboard operated cannot FOIA their districts because we have no law to protect those students when transparency fails.

The system of transparency and accountability is broken. We should not have to write letters, testify and go to the media to get answers on the most fundamental policy of protecting the safety of our children. We cannot move to the real work of teaching and learning if we aren’t first and fundamentally doing all we can to protect our youth.

We must move the bills being considered forward. In addition, we also must act urgently to implement full transparency in our education system – there is no time to lose.

If our education system, led by the Mayor, embraced transparency then

  • our communities would understand as soon as the MPD investigation allowed, what happened and how our children were protected
  • it would be easy to find the policies and practices in place to protect our children
  • every child would be fully protected in the same way in every school regardless of being in DCPS or a charter school, and every parent would have the same access to protections to get key information about their children through FOIA
  • would be easy to maintain, track and upkeep records of all safety procedures in one centralized location so every parent – regardless of school or sector – can be sure their children are safe.

If our education leaders embraced transparency, we would have trust.

Please work with us to achieve full transparency for all children.


Supplemental documents, recommendations research, timelines:

Kent Withycombe Testimony – At-Risk School Funding and School Based Budgeting and Transparency Amendment Acts of 2019 – June 26, 2019

WLC

Kent Withycombe, Education Justice Project Director

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs 

Testimony Before the Council of the District of Columbia

  For the June 26, 2019 Joint Public Hearing on:

(1) B23-0239:  School Based Budgeting and Transparency Amendment Act of 2019; and

(2) B23-0046:  At-Risk School Funding Transparency Amendment Act of 2019

I.               Introduction

Thank you Council Chairman Mendelson, Education Committee Chairman Grosso, and all Councilmembers for this opportunity to testify.  I am Kent Withycombe, from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, where I work to advance education justice in DC.

Since the late 1970s, the Committee has been committed to fighting for equity in the D.C. schools.  In particular we have focused our advocacy, particularly for families of color that come from neighborhoods that we as a city have historically deprived of resources and support.[1]

We are committed to ensuring every student’s right to an excellent public education.   Budget, planning and transparency issues are inherently civil rights issues, as they all must be done with a keen eye towards actually achieving equity and providing quality opportunities for students in all of our public schools.

Community input is a critical component of ensuring that DCPS and the public charter school LEAs are accountable to the students and parents that they serve.  Transparency into the operations of these schools and how they make decisions about budgeting and planning allows community members to provide meaningful input.  We support the intent of many provisions in the School Based Budgeting and Transparency Amendment Act, as it intends to give more local control over budgets to Principals and their school communities, and it applies DC’s open meetings laws to all public schools.   However, we recommend that the law also require each Local Education Agency to comply with the District of Columbia’s Freedom of Information Act.   We also support and urge the Council to pass the At Risk School Funding Transparency Amendment Act provisions, as it also gives more local control over budgeting to schools, and it will increase transparency and accountability to ensure that DC public schools are using At Risk funds for the direct benefit of their students who are living in acute poverty.

II.  The School Based Budgeting and Transparency Amendment Act of 2019

Access to information by advocates, journalists, school communities and voters strengthens the District’s schools, improves policy and practice, and helps expose misconduct, waste, and inefficiency.  Investigations into school operations demonstrate the value of subjecting all of DC’s public schools to open meetings and public records requirements.

We learned, for example, from the press, advocates, and teachers that DCPS attendance and graduation rates at Ballou and other schools were actually far below what they were initially reported to be, exposing deep inequities in the quality of education that some students were receiving.

Conversely, at Chavez Prep Public Charter school, which is not currently subject to open meeting laws, teachers, parents and students were kept in the dark about school finances, the plans to consolidate schools, and then the ultimate decision to close Chavez Prep.  The community had little opportunity for input or recourse.

The School Based Budgeting and Transparency Amendment Act will achieve better transparency for stakeholders and policymakers to evaluate schools and the quality and equity of educational experiences that those schools provide.  It will provide opportunities for communities to monitor their schools and provide input at key junctures.

However, the Act does not go far enough, and we are particularly concerned that this Act does not require charter school LEAs to comply with the D.C.’s Freedom of Information Act.  This mechanism is necessary to ensure meaningful public accountability.  This bill should require that all LEAs comply with FOIA, just as Councilmember Allen’s Transparency Bill does.   Making charter LEAs subject to the same FOIA requirements that DCPS is subject to is critical, as it will increase transparency and accountability to school communities and build trust.   Ensuring broad public access to the same types of information across all of our public schools is key in understanding, assessing, and closing the persistent achievement and opportunity gaps among students, particularly with respect to students of color, our At-Risk student populations, students with disabilities, and English Language Learners.  The National Research Council’s 2015 Evaluation of the Public Schools of the District of Columbia repeatedly emphasized this point.[2]

DC’s exemption of charter schools from public accountability laws like FOIA is out of step with national norms.  National charter organizations endorse compliance with public records requests as Best Practices.[3]  Moreover, representatives of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools told the Washington Post that DC’s charter sector was unusual in not being subject to public records requests as compared to the rest of the country.[4]

In fact, 39 states require all schools to comply with public records requests.  Research by In the Public Interest found that this vast majority of states, including both Maryland and Virginia, require operators or schools to hold open board meetings or post minutes of board meetings, and to respond to requests for public records.[5]  Most recently, California adopted this year a measure that would subject all of California’s 1,300 charter schools to open meetings laws and public records requests.

While the PCSB recently made some transparency improvements, they do not go far enough to provide the kind and variety of types of information that parents, school communities and advocates need to create true accountability.  Nor do these changes provide the depth and breadth of information that would be available through FOIA requests.[6]  We cannot rely on PCSB to be the gatekeepers of information for publicly funded charter schools.

Responding to FOIA requests should not be a significant financial or time burden for charter LEAs.  The DC Public Charter School Board has not been inundated with FOIA requests.  Between October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018, the DC Public Charter School Board received 74 requests for information, with 59 processed within 15 days, and the rest in more than 16 days.[7]  The total cost for the PCSB to comply with FOIA requests during that year was $22,600.  For smaller charter LEAs who need assistance in responding, the bill can follow the lead of Councilmember Allen’s Public School Transparency Act and direct the PCSB to assist Charter LEAs when needed in responding to FOIA requests.

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee supports the School Based Budgeting provisions that will give Principals and their school communities more autonomy to allocate their local dollars and the ability to build their budgets based on their students’ needs, rather than DCPS Central Office mandates.

This Act can significantly improve transparency over two areas of expenditures that are currently obscured in school budgets.  First, the Act should require charter schools to disclose all contracts rather than only contracts for more than $25,000.  The current formulation allows schools and contractors to divide up contracts to avoid disclosure.  For example, a $48,000 contract for goods and services could be split into $24,000 for goods, and $24,000 for services, and neither would have to be disclosed under the proposed legislation.

Second, the bill should require charter schools to publicly report employee salaries.  Councilmember Allen’s bill requires publishing all charter teacher salaries, as DCPS is required to do.  At a minimum, charter schools should disclose st year salaries, 5th year, 10th year salaries and average teacher salaries, so that teachers will have reliable compensation information to drive their choices about where to work and so that parents and education advocates will be able to compare each year how much schools and LEAs are spending on teachers versus administrators and other expenses. [8]

Overall, the Committee supports the following provisions and strongly encourages that the Council strengthen the remainder of the proposed legislation:

  1. Require both the Public Charter School Board and individual charter schools to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act, including the Open Meetings Act.[9]
  2. Urge all public schools to use similar definitions and line-items in their budgeting.
  3. Require charter schools to publicize not just their budgets, but also their expenditures.
  4. Require charter schools to delineate how At-Risk Funds are being spent.
  5. Require that the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) publish school budget expenditure information in a way that ensures the public can compare expenditures by LEA and by school in a clear manner.[10]
  6. Require DCPS to use a school-based budgeting model to fund schools, as opposed to the comprehensive staffing model, and submit that to the DC Council.

II.              At Risk School Funding Transparency Amendment Act

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee is in favor of the At -Risk School Funding Transparency Amendment Act.   Reliable, targeted and adequate At-Risk funding is a significant way to improve education equity in the public schools of DC.   Schools need an At-Risk supplement that is fully funded to meet the needs of the community.  The current At-Risk supplement, about $2,400 per student, is 40 percent lower than the Deputy Mayor for Education’s 2013 Education Adequacy Study recommendations.[11]   In addition to the improvements incorporated by the proposed legislation, the Council should also increase the amount of the per student At-Risk funding.

The transparency and accountability provisions will help to achieve three important equity goals:

  1. Giving principals and school communities more voice in how At-Risk funds are used;
  2. Requiring the collection of information on how At-Risk funds are used that will assist in evaluating the impacts of this funding on student outcomes; and
  3. Ensuring that At-Risk funds are used to supplement, rather than supplant, school-based spending and services, which is a persistent problem that both the DC Auditor and Mary Levy have studied and reported in recent years.[12]

The Act accomplishes these goals by shifting spending decisions for At-Risk funding from DC Public Schools’ Central Office to principals and school communities, as principals must consult with Local School Advisory Teams on how at-risk funds should be used.

It also adds new reporting requirements for all public schools receiving At-Risk funds so that parents, the public and the Council can better track how the At-Risk funds are used and if they are effective at improving educational outcomes for At-Risk students at that school.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

In summary, the Committee supports the intent of the School Based Budgeting and Transparency Amendment Act, as it intends to give more local control over budgets to Principals and their school communities, and it increase transparency into the operation of our public charter schools.  We recommend that the law also require each Local Education Agency in DC to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests, just as DCPS is required to do.

We also support and urge the Council to pass the At Risk School Funding Transparency Amendment Act, as it also gives more local control over budgeting to schools, and it will increase transparency and accountability to ensure that DC public schools are using At Risk funds for the direct benefit of their students who are living in acute poverty.

[1] The Washington Lawyers’ Committee was founded in 1968 to address civil rights violations, racial injustice and poverty-related issues in our community through litigation and other advocacy.  The Committee has a long history of working to address racial and other inequity in the DC public schools, which includes its Parent Empowerment Program and its School Partnerships among law firms, businesses and more than 55 DCPS Title I schools.  We work closely with the private bar to bring litigation, pursue policy initiatives and support the academic enrichment and other goals of our DC public school communities.

[2]http://sites.nationalacademies.org/dbasse/BOTA/Evaluation_of_the_Public_Schools_of_the_District_of_Columbia/index.htm

Page 3-20:  Public access to comprehensive data across DCPS and all the charter LEAs in the city would support tracking and analysis of key information about schools and students, particularly with respect to students with disabilities and English-language learners.

Page 3-27; Conclusion 3-3:   Accountability to the public requires that information about administrative operations be transparent and easily accessible and that mechanisms be available for DC residents to express their preferences and concerns.

Pages 7-13 to 7-14;  Recommendation 3:  the primary objective of the District of Columbia for its public schools should be to address the serious and persistent disparities in learning opportunities and academic progress across student groups and wards by attending to [a]cessible, useful, and transparent data about D.C. public schools that are tailored to the diverse groups with a stake in the system.

[3] See Recommendations and Model Laws by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the National Alliance of Public Charter Schoolshttps://www.qualitycharters.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/NACSA-Principles-and-Standards-2018-Edition.pdf ;

https://www.publiccharters.org/sites/default/files/migrated/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/ModelLaw_P7-wCVR_20110402T222341.pdf

[4]  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/should-dc-charter-schools-follow-the-same-rules-as-traditional-campuses/2019/02/04/544cfb36-2644-11e9-81fd-b7b05d5bed90_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6ee9b1ee6afb

[5] https://www.inthepublicinterest.org/d-c-s-charter-school-transparency-policies-fall-short-of-nationwide-state-level-standards/

[6]  On March 18, board members voted on the DC Public Charter School Board’s new transparency changes, which would require individual schools to publish, among other things, which meetings are open to the public, board meeting minutes, the salaries of the five highest-compensated individuals, employee handbooks, and funding plans for at-risk students.  https://www.dcpcsb.org/public-comment/notice-new-policy-school-transparency-policy-reopened-public-comment . Some of the information that the DC Public Charter School Board is proposing that schools publish on their own websites is already available on the DC Public Charter School Board’s Transparency Hub, which launched last April.  https://www.dcpcsb.org/transparency

[7]  See The District’s Annual FOIA Report: https://os.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/os/page_content/attachments/FOAI%20FY18%20Annual%20Report%20updated%202.25.19.pdf

[8] https://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/city-desk/article/21045319/dc-charter-administrators-have-some-of-the-highest-school-salaries-in-town-their-teachers-some-of-the-lowest

[9] National charter organizations endorse compliance with open meetings laws as Best Practices.  See Recommendations and Model Laws by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools.

[10] This gives parents and policymakers clear information and allows stakeholders to see across all schools how tax dollars are being spent.  This is done in several large school districts around the country, such as L.A Unified School District, which publishes the entire budget of every school (more than 500 schools) that advocates and school communities can compare and digest.  See http://projects.scpr.org/applications/lausd-2014-2015-school-by-school-budgets/  and  https://achieve.lausd.net/cms/lib/CA01000043/Centricity/Domain/123/25_2019-20%20Superintendents%20Final%20Budget%20Online%20Combined_nopg.pdf

[11] DC Deputy Mayor for Education’s 2013 Education Adequacy Study at 116-117.

[12] See http://dcauditor.org/report/budgeting-and-staffing-at-eight-dcps-elementary-schools/ at iii and 61-63; and  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-is-misspending-millions-of-dollars-intended-to-help-the-citys-poorest-students/2018/04/14/6006c02a-3788-11e8-9c0a-85d477d9a226_story.html?utm_term=.ba26c5171293

Liz Koening Testimony – At-Risk School Funding and School Based Budgeting and Transparency Amendment Acts of 2019 – June 26, 2019

Liz Koenig 

Public Testimony on B23-0046 and B23-0239

June 26, 2019

Good morning, my name is Liz Koenig, and I am a part of EmpowerEd’s teacher council.  I worked as a charter school teacher for seven years and sent my daughter to a charter school for the last two.  The School-Based Budgeting and Transparency Bill takes several important steps to increase trust in our public institutions, such as requiring charter schools to detail expenditures as well as budgets and requiring all schools to detail how they spend their at-risk funds.  Budget transparency is a worthy goal, and incredibly important against this city’s backdrop of underinvesting in the most marginalized communities.

The transparency aspect I wanted to focus on today is one that has been most important to me as a charter teacher and parent.  I enthusiastically support making charter school board meetings open to families, staff, and the public. This is an important step in connecting charter schools to the communities they serve in a way that is currently lacking.  While charter schools are granted great independence in how they run their schools, they should not be released from the obligations public schools have to their communities.

Beyond having open board meetings, I believe that teachers – who are closest to the students and who deliver the instruction every day – should be guaranteed representation on each charter school’s board.  Teacher voice is essential to strong, quality schools and, while it is prioritized and respected in many schools, it should be guaranteed in all.

Requiring charter schools to have open board meetings is an essential first step, but I believe it does not go far enough.  Charter schools should also be subject to DC’s Freedom of Information Act, giving the public the right to request documents relating to how these schools are spending public dollars.  Adding this piece of transparency to the Budgeting and Transparency Act would be complementary – charter schools have to report expenditures and citizens are given a tool to verify the details of these submissions.  The mechanics of how FOIA would work for charter schools still need to be, and can easily be, fleshed out with collaboration and creativity.

The reason all these measures are necessary is because accountability means more than test scores or a PMF rating.  Accountability means school leaders should be face-to-face with families and teachers when making decisions that will affect students’ education, most critically when those decisions are unpopular ones.  Accountability means school leaders should not be able to avoid answering for mistakes made – not when students and teachers have to live with the fallout. Accountability means that the public should be able to follow tax dollars from collection to payment, in greater detail than the broad strokes of an annual report or a 990.  

Accountability means that when the stakes are this high, you should not be able to hide behind the empty platitude, “trust us.”  Schools in both sectors are still falling short of the high standards we expect them to have in educating our city’s children. Transparency is an issue across sectors in DC.  There are committed advocates who work to hold DCPS accountable to their students every day, and I fully support their efforts. Those who wish to put the same democratic pressure on the charter system have fewer tools.  

While the PCSB is there to hold schools academically accountable, families and teachers care about more than just “outcomes,” a term which often just refers to two-dimensional test scores and graduation rates.  They care about the inputs and the processes of a school – How are students treated? How are teachers valued? What kind of social emotional and discipline practices are used? What is the school doing to protect its children from health and safety hazards, including predators?  Whose input is being solicited and listened to? As Councilmember Robert White has said, “Not everyone who has an interest in our schools has an interest in our students.” We need to empower those who have genuine interests in students’ safety and success.

Recent events have made this year feel like a watershed moment in this city for the future of our educational system.  There have been too many failures, too many hollow mandates, too many repetitions of our same inequitable history – in both charters and traditional public schools.  Asking for more transparency is absolutely not a condemnation of one type of education or another. Asking for transparency is asking for respect from our school leaders and city officials.

Status

W6PSPO Meeting Notes – April 9, 2019

April 9, 2019
Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, 215 G St. NE, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

  1. Theodora Brown & Raenelle Zapata (Ward 5 Council on Education) and Eboni-Rose Thompson (Ward 7 Education Council) – Ward Council priorities and how we can better support each other

Ward 5

  • Founded in 1995. Traditionally, conducted an annual survey of all schools – talk to staff (secretaries/custodial staff, etc).
  • Under Rhee, all Ward 5 middle schools closed, and became education campus models. Middle school students were not accommodated; no pre algebra, no world language, and therefore, Ward 5 students could not apply to School Without Walls or Banneker. Ward 5 Education Council fought to reopen middle schools, and DCPS opened Brookland Middle School and McKinley Tech Middle School
  • Schools in Ward 5 still struggle from underfunding. None of schools in Ward 5 have full-time librarians.
  • Today: Priority is to revitalize Ward 5 Council on Education
    Paul Kihn joined in March; inviting CM Allen & Grosso to talk about Transparency legislation

Ward 7

  • Budget
  • Reasons behind budget shortfall by ~$15M
    • New costs like security
    • Extended year ending
    • Enrollment projections are unclear and inaccurate
    • Over-saturation of schools; capacity exceeds demand and students are scattered
    • Combination of above, seeing hits beyond 5% yet schools are losing stabilization funds
    • Budgets came out late; after oversight hearings, so schools did not show up during hearings to address budget cuts; lag in information
    • Priority – stop the bleeding; Ward 7 only second to Ward 8 vis-a-vis school age kids, but not many go to in-boundary schools.
  • Action
    • Joining ANC meetings to discuss a resolution to support additional funding for the DCPS schools in Ward 7
    • Ensure every ANC passes resolution
    • Eboni-Rose to email resolution to Suzanne
    • Budget advocacy cheat sheet for individuals. Not all schools have PTAs; not every issue specific to one school – helpful to speak with a collective voice
    • Working to come up w/ a # around funding gap
  • Obstacles
    • Ward 7 has STEM and language immersion schools, but there is little support for the programs.
    • Feeders are broken in Ward 7, e.g., H.D. Woodson High Schools’ only feeder school is Kelly-Miller Middle School which also feeds into Eastern High School.
    • Transportation is another important issue, especially for Kelly-Miller. Transportation was raised at the Strategic Planning Cabinet meeting.
    • Parents invest, but DCPS is not matching the investment; parents are willing to be partners, but not risk it all without investment by DCPS
  • Feeder Strategy
  • People are less concerned about the type of programming at a school, and more concerned about what the feeder pathway is. Looking to DCPS to support vertical articulation (path for language, path for STEM, etc)
  • Think more creatively about Sousa? Are there cluster situations to be leveraged?
  • Programming strategies? Every conversation with DCPS = how to better invest in schools in ways that translate to families.
  • Address Woodson’s lack of adequate feeder pattern – Kelly Miller has rights to Eastern and Woodson
  • CM Trayon White drafted resolution for Ward 8 schools that had support from every at large CM

2. C4DC Budget Proposal (see DC Fiscal Policy Institute budget analysis and this WUSA9 report and the C4DC budget tool)

Proposal

  • Important for communities to have access to by right schools w/ predictability through high school
  • Target increased funding to DCPS schools hardest hit in Wards 7 & 8. The students who need the most are getting the least in this year’s budget.
  • Stable feeder patterns are needed across city; how to support feeder systems across the city and how do we ensure the schools fill the needs of kids in each community
  • A stimulus investment is needed for the under enrolled feeder patterns to attract students to them, and over time it will cost the city less due to factors such as more efficient use of school buildings.
  • Timeline: currently gathering feedback. Education Committee report May 2, this is where Ed committee will show how it intends to increase funding for schools
  • Discussion
    • Q: Will focus include guidance around where DCPS should put the money? A: We’ll give them some direction. It will be critical to give direction in order to defend the amount we’re asking for.
    • We will need to make the case for why the Council should fund DCPS and not the charters with additional funds. There is justification in the law, in the high gain of DCPS students throughout the year. Ward 7 is asking for the at risk funds to be restored. This may be the largest hurdle.
    • Part of the pitch is we will not accept any more closings; this council cannot be the one that oversees the death of DCPS
    • Believe CM Mendelson will add $ to schools. The question is how much? Acute need is in DCPS.
    • Justifying cuts w/ enrollment, which are guesses; w/out investment in schools, enrollment will drop.
    • Enrollment reserves are not being used
  • How can we support:
    • Testify at Council meetings; help our councilmembers DME Hearing April 25
    • WTU Rally on April 25 – 4:30pm

3. DME Hearing April 25 & W6PSPO Testimonies

4. Bike-to-School Day is May 8, 7:30-8:15 AM @ Lincoln Park. All schools are invited.

Next CHPSPO Meeting: May 21, 2019

Upcoming Events

  • April 20 – National Park Service Easter Egg Hunt at Frederick Douglass House (10am-1pm)
  • April 25 Deputy Mayor for Education Budget Oversight Hearing
  • May 8 Bike-to-School Day, Lincoln Park

Visit W6PSPO on the web at http://chpspo.org

Status

W6PSPO Meeting Notes – March 19, 2019

March 19, 2019
Payne Elementary School, 1445 C Street, SE, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

  1. At-Risk Funding Overview – Betsy Wolf, Amidon-Bowen parent [See presentation]
  • Inequity in school funding in DCPS
    • DCPS funds look like they are equitably allocated across schools in that schools serving greater % at-risk get more funds. But schools serving greater % at-risk also serve more students with IEPs. Taking out special education funding, no longer see equitable funding across schools in DCPS.
    • Why not? Where is at-risk money going? It’s going to cover core general and special education positions in many cases. At-risk money is not truly supplementing the base funding.
  • Achievement gaps
    • DC has a large achievement gap because it has large income inequality. Nationwide, achievement gaps are the highest in places with the greatest income inequality.
  • Interventions to target achievement gaps
    • To target the achievement gap, you need to supplement instruction for the lowest performing students. Small-group instruction and tutoring have been shown to be the most impactful interventions in education research. But schools don’t have enough extra money to fund positions like reading specialists across the board.
  1. Open discussion with Chancellor Ferebee
  • Budget: trying to address decline in enrollment w/in schools in East DC vs
    https://twitter.com/VJablow/status/1108737079670964224

    Community response to Chancellor Ferebee’s characterization of FY20 budget

    overcrowding in West DC 

  • Pointed to Council legislation re: stabilization to support schools in enrollment decline (cap at 5% of resources)
  • Confusion remains around DCPS budget/follow the $?
    • Start at per pupil allocation, then add $
    • Comprehensive staffing model adds to ‘blur’
  • Re: recommended interventions to target achievement gaps (like small group/reading specialist):
    • School based decision today; do we create a model that is mandatory
    • Influence of great teachers/school leaders is not necc equitable
    • Believes in autonomy, but also in sharing with schools research-based strategies to inform their staffing and budgeting decisions.
  • Cross-sector planning (W6PSPO → community members; CF: Chancellor Ferebee)
    • W6PSPO: Proliferation of charters and impact on overall resources. CF: Approaching coordination carefully;
    • W6PSPO: Need planning and stability w/ policy around it; Need Chancellor to be ‘cheerleader’ for DCPS
  • Inequity w/in schools
    • W6PSPO: Resources/visibility w/in schools are focused on early childhood families (engagement is higher from early childhood families), but schools are being judged by test scores at 4/5th grades
  • Teacher Turnover
    • W6PSPO: When classrooms are without a teacher for extended period of time, is there an accountability model parents can follow up with beyond the principal? (Principals are not always responsive nor give priority to staffing gaps). CF: Instructional superintendents are first point of contact.
  • School Leadership:
    • W6PSPO:What can the DCPS do to strengthen teacher/principal retention? CF: Exploring multi-year principal contract (today, principal contracts are renewed -or not- annually);  Committed to engaging w/ WTU on IMPACT; Solve for great leadership
    • W6PSPO: Principals are able to use IMPACT to evaluate and retaliate against teachers; teachers don’t have a meaningful way to give feedback on principals. CF: DCPS tracks data about whether teachers return. Understand that there are independent evaluators under IMPACT. W6PSPO: Correction – WTU did not want evaluators who didn’t know them, the school community and requested peer evaluators. Suggest DCPS pursue meaningful feedback from teachers when evaluating principal’s performance;
  • Modernizations/Community Engagement:
    • W6PSPO: Modernization/PACE act – suggestion to engage parents who have gone through SIT process to get a view ‘under the hood’ how policy plays out in practice.
    • W6PSPO: What can we hold DCPS accountable for vis a vis lead in drinking water? CF: DGS/DCPS committed to communicating at each step of the process.
    • W6PSPO:  DCPS central office staff need to spend more time in the schools, understand what happens on the ground
  1. Open discussion with Jessica Sutter, SBOE W6
  • State board voting on priorities Weds, March 20
    • STAR report/dc school report card
    • OSSE survey on report cards: 3 year cycle for changes, except High school growth model
    • High school graduation requirements/Credit recovery
    • Committees
      • Teacher/leader turnover
        • Teacher/leader working group 
      • Research 
      • Social studies 
      • Rich curriculum 
      • UPDATE: State Board members will meet monthly in working groups related to school visits (first Tuesday), teacher retention (third Friday), rich curriculum (fourth Monday), research (fourth Monday), and social studies (fourth Monday). These working groups will be an opportunity for members to discuss key issue and focus areas that the State Board has identified as priorities for 2019. The discussions will provide members the opportunity to share thoughts, recommendations, and next steps for the SBOE. Thank you! ~ Paul Negron, Public Affairs Specialist, SBOE
  • Ward 6 DCSBOE Rep Proposed Priorities (JS = Jessica Sutter; W6PSPO → Community members)
    • OSSE STAR Rating Feedback: JS: Will use OSSE Survey and SBOE surveys as starting point for community level discussions. How best to do the OSSE/STAR feedback for Ward 6?  W6PSPO: Best at school level; better opportunity for collecting feedback, esp from teachers. Focus group model.
    • Middle/HS paths: Ward 6 families have expressed frustration around middle and high school options. (in particular lack of strategy around dual language continuation) Middle and high schools (mostly parents from dual language programs have reached out and are dissatisfied w/ feeder options). Looking at options for bringing solutions for Tyler and Stokes communities. W6PSPO: Should start conversation with DCPS; feeders patterns would be affected.
    • Advocacy Coordination Across Sectors: JS: should W6PSPO broaden advocacy efforts to also include charters? W6PSPO: overall, priorities are not necessarily always aligned. Currently, W6PSPO has hands full w/stabilizing feeder patterns, DCPS budget, technology, etc. W6PSPO always open to coordinating with charter schools when it makes sense on specific issues common to all schools.  Some common areas might include standardizing grades (like grade middle schools start, e.g., 5th for charters, 6th for DCPS; SpEd student imbalance (neighborhood schools and open enrollment schools bear the brunt of SpEd-heavy communities, while charter and selective DCPS schools have low SpEd population).

4. Wilson Building Visits – Danica Petroshius –

  •  Friday, March 23 10AM-4PM. Danica to follow up via email to W6PSPO


5. CHPSPO’s new name →
W6PSPO 

 

Next CHPSPO Meeting: April 23, 2019 (Note:  4th Thursday due to spring break)

Upcoming Events

Budget Oversight Hearings – Register to testify here–> http://bit.do/educationhearings

  • March 27      State Board of Education, Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education, and the Office of the Student Advocate
  • March 29      DCPS (Public Witnesses Only)
  • April 4          Public Charter School Board
  • April 9          Office of the State Superintendent of Education
  • April 25        Deputy Mayor for Education

March 25      Capitol Hill Community Foundation Spring Grants deadline

March 29      Ferebee Friday, Pretzel Bakery, 8 – 9:30 am

Visit W6PSPO on the web at http://chpspo.org

Status

CHPSPO Meets Tuesday, March 19 @ Payne ES

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, March 19, at 6:30 pm at Payne Elementary School (1445 C St., SE).  Chancellor Ferebee and W6 SBOE representative Jessica Sutter will join us at our meeting.  We’ll also be deciding on CHPSPO’s new name!  I hope you can join us.

Suzanne Wells

————————

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization

March 19, 2019

Payne Elementary School

1445 C Street, SE

6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Mission Statement – To promote cooperation among the parent organizations of the public schools on Capitol Hill in order to improve the education received by all children attending our schools.

6:30 – 6:40 Welcome and Introductions

6:40 – 6:50 At-Risk Funding Overview – Betsy Wolf, Amidon-Bowen parent

6:50 – 7:30 Open discussion with Chancellor Ferebee

7:30 – 7:45 Open discussion with Jessica Sutter, SBOE W6

7:45 – 7:50 Wilson Building Visits – Danica Petroshius

7:50 – 8:00 CHPSPO’s new name

Next CHPSPO Meeting: April 23, 2019 (Note: 4th Thursday due to spring break)

Upcoming Events

Budget Oversight Hearings

March 27 State Board of Education, Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education, and the Office of the Student Advocate

March 29 DCPS (Public Witnesses Only)

April 4 Public Charter School Board

April 9 Office of the State Superintendent of Education

April 25 Deputy Mayor for Education

March 25 Capitol Hill Community Foundation Spring Grants deadline

March 29 Ferebee Friday, Pretzel Bakery, 8 – 9:30 am

Visit CHPSPO on the web at http://chpspo.org

Status

CHPSPO Meets Tuesday, February 12, at the Wilson Building

Dear Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization Members,

We’re doing things a little differently this month. CHPSPO is meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of the month (this Tuesday, February 12), and we’re going to have our meeting in hearing room 120 at the Wilson building (1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW). The meeting will run from 6:30 – 8 pm.

We’ll be joined at our meeting by Betsy Wolf, an Amidon-Bowen parent, who is going to share research she’s done on how at-risk funds are distributed and used across schools in DC, and interventions that appear most promising for increasing the achievement of at-risk students.

We are meeting at the Wilson building because on February 12 there is a public roundtable on the confirmation of Dr. Ferebee as DCPS Chancellor, and a number of CHPSPO members are testifying. The hearing starts at 2 pm, and is in hearing room 412. If the roundtable ends before our meeting is over, Dr. Ferebee plans to attend the CHPSPO meeting.

Hope to see you on Tuesday at the public roundtable and the CHPSPO meeting!

Suzanne Wells

Agenda    At-Risk Funding and the Achievement Gap (1)