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)


Jessica Sutter Testimony – Roundtable on At-Risk Funding – February 1, 2019

February 1, 2019

Jessica Sutter

Testimony at Council Oversight Roundtable on At Risk Funding Transparency

Thank you Chairman Mendelson and Members of the DC Council for inviting public testimony today. My name is Jessica Sutter and I have the honor of representing Ward 6 on the DC State Board of Education. I am testifying here today as an individual, and not on behalf of the SBOE.

I support the goal of this bill: to help guarantee that the original purpose of the at-risk funding mechanism—promoting equity of opportunity in education—is fully realized. Increasing equity of opportunity for all young people is why so many educators decided to work in or with public schools. But we have not yet realized the goal of providing all DC children with equitable opportunities to succeed and I believe that some modifications to the bill can help us get a bit closer than we are today.

I have three requests to modify the bill as currently written.

First – there is simply a need for more funding to serve students who are identified as “at-risk.” We know this. The 2014 Adequacy Study from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education recommended for $3906 per student identified as “at-risk.” Our current funding is nowhere near that. In order to best serve the diverse needs of our diverse student body in Ward 6, and all across the city, we need the UPSFF to be adjusted to weight “at-risk” funding at the recommended level. This will benefit early childhood students at Amidon-Bowen ES and AppleTree PCS, it will benefit middle school students at Eliot-Hine and it will benefit young people in the alternative education programming at Kingsman Academy. All Ward 6 students – and all students District-wide – who meet the definition of being “at risk” deserve these funds as a matter of educational equity. I ask that you increase the funding to the recommended level and ensure that school leaders have the power to spend it in ways that can best serve the needs of children in their care.

Second, I’d recommend streamlining the reporting on how at-risk funds are spent. As written, the bill would require LEAs to provide reports to the Council each year that explain how each school used its at-risk funds. Rather than create an additional report, it would be great to see this information reported as part of the DC School Report Card, allowing students and families a chance to gain an understanding of schools’ budgeting priorities and spending histories. This would increase school budget and funding transparency – a matter for which parents and teachers across the city are currently advocating. DC PAVE has selected school funding and budget transparency as one of their key advocacy issues for 2019.

The ESSA Task Force of the SBOE is working with OSSE to establish how data on per pupil expenditures will be displayed on the School Report Card (starting in December 2019), the at-risk funding expenditures could, perhaps be displayed in the same section. This would streamline information for the public, especially families, and it could reduce the administrative burden on schools that are saddled with many reporting requirements to their LEA, to OSSE, the federal government, and other external partners and grantors.

Finally, adding a standardized set of terms and definitions—like a common set of expenditure categories—to the language of this bill would ensure all LEAs are reporting the same data points and pieces of information. It would also allow for easier at-a-glance understanding of how schools use these funds to promote both well-being and improved achievement among at-risk students, and better (if still limited) comparisons across schools. Common categories would allow for public transparency in considering how schools spend these funds, while also acknowledging that the kinds of expenditures that benefit students classified as “at risk” are often hard to tie directly to immediate (i.e. – within year) academic outcomes.

I thank you for your consideration of these recommendations and for allowing me time to speak today.



Grace Hu Testimony – Roundtable on At-Risk Funding – February 1, 2019

Grace Hu
Amidon-Bowen Elementary PTA
February 1, 2019

My name is Grace Hu. I serve on the PTA of Amidon-Bowen Elementary and have previously served on the Amidon-Bowen Local School Advisory Team.  On behalf of the Amidon-Bowen PTA, I would like to thank you for holding this hearing and specifically thank Councilmember Charles Allen for introducing legislation on the important topic of at-risk funding.

Earlier this week Comments on CM Allen At Risk Funding bill Jan 29 2019. Our PTA contributed to and endorses those comments. My testimony today provides additional views specific to our school community.

Chronic underfunding not an excuse to misuse at-risk funding

Amidon-Bowen Elementary, the neighborhood elementary school for Southwest DC, serves approximately 350 students, of which more than 70% have been identified as “at risk”.  Our parents notice that staffing positions are on the chopping block each year and students lack basic resources (e.g., computers to support online testing and curricula, paper, other supplies) in the classroom. We wonder how are we expected to close the achievement gap (and overcome our 2-star OSSE rating) without a serious investment of resources?

But while we believe there is a chronic underfunding of our schools, we also believe that chronic underfunding is not an excuse for the misuse of at-risk fundsAs long as at-risk funding is being used to cover budget gaps at our neediest schools while schools without at-risk funding are provided base positions and resources without this shell game (see footnote [1]) of moving around at-risk money to cover shortfalls, funds that are designed to provide equity will continue to be used to create inequity.

At-risk funds and student achievement

Although the intent of existing law is to improve student achievement among at-risk students, we currently use at-risk funding on things like social workers, psychologists, and afterschool staffing. These provide significant value to our students and families and should be available, but they are not specifically targeted to closing the achievement gap. If we want to narrow the achievement gap, we have to be more intentional about targeting instructional resources to at-risk students. Research shows that biggest bang for your buck in improving student performance is supplementing instruction, for example, providing more staffing to enable small group tutoring and smaller class sizes.

We have seen encouraging early evidence of the impact of supplemental instructional support at Amidon-Bowen. Last year was the first year that Amidon-Bowen employed both a reading specialist and a math intervention coach. The math intervention coach provides small group and intensive tutoring to roughly 30 low-performing students in grades 4 and 5. The reading specialist provides intensive tutoring to 25 low-performing students in grades 2 to 5. The initial results are promising: a higher percentage of students receiving additional math support met their middle-of-the-year growth targets compared to students who did not receive the additional support. 80% of those who met with the reading specialist met their growth goals, and average gains for “below basic” students who met with the reading specialist were higher than those of similarly low-performing students who did not receive this support.

Despite this progress, we’ve been told by DCPS to not expect these positions to be continued in future years. One of these positions was funded with at-risk funds; the other was gifted to us because we could not afford it in our budget.

If we could focus all of our at-risk funding (~$500K per year) on instructional supports with a direct tie to student achievement, we believe our school could make significant academic progress. Instead our at-risk funding is used to cover legally mandated special education (even though the majority of our at-risk population are not students in need of special education services) and other positions that should be covered under a base budget.

Lastly, transparency and other requirements related to at-risk funds should apply to all Local Education Agencies (LEAs) across both sectors to ensure all at-risk students are getting the supplemental support they need and deserve.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

[1] School budgets should be equally funded according to the comprehensive staffing model before at-risk funds are allocated. In Title 1, this is called “Title 1 neutral” and is guidance we follow every year. Instead, in DC it’s easy to tell which schools receive at-risk funds before they’ve been allocated. The budgets of schools with high percentages of at-risk students have holes in core staffing. DCPS then uses at-risk funds to fill these manufactured gaps. Large gaps in core staffing only exist at our schools most in need.


CHPSPO Meeting Notes – December 2018 and January 2019

Miner Elementary School – 601 15th Street, NE

January 15, 2019 – 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.


  1. 2019 Performance Oversight and Budget Hearings, Laura Marks and Anne Phelps
  • Budget Presentation. See presentation.
  • Important to make priorities heard by Mayor before it is transmitted to Council (March 20), as agencies are formulating their budget now. Citizen priorities are captured in decisions.
    • Email Jenny Reed (Director, Office of Budget & Performance) , John Falcicchio (Mayor’s Chief of Staff), (see more on slide 19).
    • Look up Mayor’s schedule (
    • Only chairman has scope to re-fund/fund priorities. Typically, this cannot be done at committee level (committees develop recs).
    • Attend hearings:
    • Education-related committee changes:
      • Grosso is chair; Mendelson somewhat co-chairing. Possibly joint hearings for performance and budget – Education; DCPS, DME, OSSE, Library
    • DGS now under Robert White
  • Timing
    • Once Mayor’s budget is transmitted to Council, it will be published on (circa March 20)
    • DCPS has slightly different budget timeline; Council does not engage in school-level budget recommendations on Operating budget. However, Council has some discretion on Capital Budget. (See slide 13)
  • Highlights
    • Of 14.6B, 8B are used locally; education is second largest allocation (18.2%),
    • Of 1.67B Capital budget, DCPS 20.9%
    • DC Public Library – many opportunities for collaboration w/ DCPS, and libraries need adequate budget support
  • Requests:

2. FoodPrints Funding, Jennifer Mampara

  • In 13 schools in all wards but ward 3. In Ward 6: Watkins, Peabody, LT, SWS, Tyler –
  • Funded by OSSE, PTAs, Federal Grants, Private Donors, Indiv School Budgets through contract by DCPS Office of School Nutrition Svcs
  • At the end of the school year, DCPS contract funds will run out, OSSE grants are for kickstarting (not ongoing) programs
  • Requesting from DC Gov, fund existing programs,
  • Letters to Mayor, DME, DCPS advocating for food education programming in schools. High demand
  • Language to include in testimony. See language.

3. Technology Advocacy, Grace Hu

4. Wilson Building Visits, Danica Petroshius

  • Early to mid Feb; refresh on CHPSPO; set agenda
    • ~10 per day + twitter amplifying
  • CHPSPO Strategic Plan
  • STAR Rating

5. Chancellor Selection, Group Discussion

6. It’s time for CHPSPO to change its name (come with ideas for names, new logo, etc.), Group Discussion. Suggestions:

  • Ward 6 Education Council
  • Ward Six Public Schools Parent Organization (WSPSPO)
  • Capital Helpers for Public Schools and Parent Organizing (CHPSPO)
  • Creative Help for Public School and Parent Organizing (CHPSPO)

Next CHPSPO Meeting: February 12, 2019


Capitol Hill Montessori@Logan – 215 G Street, NE, December 18, 2018

December 18, 2018 – 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

  1. Safe Passages Program, Office of the Student Advocate
  • Who is Office of the Student Advocate? See presentation
  • 50% of Ward 6 Requests for Assistance to Student Advocate are re: Safe Passage
  • Parent and Family Go To Guide. See guide.
  • Safe Passage Toolkit
  • Potomac Ave (MPD)
    • MPD Daily juvenile conference call
    • MPD Detail at L’enfant plaza
    • MPD Daily usually start at stadium and l’enfant and follow groups
    • Casual/plain clothes anti-terrorism which focus on Eastern Market and Potomac Ave
    • Fights/violence are priority; fights can turn into robberies
  • MPD Resource Officers focusing on youth advisory council ; suggestions
    • School leaders and school staff present at ‘hot points’ can be a deterrent
    • Lighting the path; stand out on the street between 3-5
    • Advocate for heads of school to join the calls
  • Next Steps: Fulcrum host DME, Office of Student Advocate, MPD, and Potomac Ave community planning around Safe Passage. Contact Tom Kavanaugh

2. LSAT Coordination, Steve Bowen, Payne LSAT

  • What is the best way to coordinate across LSAT members?
    • Mailing list
    • LSAT training in May; alongside with Council budget presentation

3. School Report Card reactions, Group Discussion – Deferred

4. CHPSPO 2019 Strategic Plan Action Items, Danica Petroshius and Suzanne Wells – Deferred

5. Is it time for CHPSPO to change its name?, Group Discussion – Deferred

Next CHPSPO Meeting: January 15, 2019


Connect on DCPS Chancellor: DC Council Public Rountables and Acting Chancellor Meet and Greets

Chancellor Confirmation Public Roundtables:

DC Council’s Committee of the Whole and Education will host a series of Public Roundtables on Chancellor of DC Public Schools Resolution of Confirmation on:

  • Wednesday, January 30, 6:00pm
  • Wednesday, February 6, 6:00pm
  • Tuesday, February 12, 11:00am

Visit for details and register to testify here.

Acting Chancellor Meet and Greets:

DCPS’s Acting Chancellor Ferebee will host a Ward 6 meet and greet on Friday, March 22, 8-9:30 am @ The Pretzel Bakery (257 15th St., SE – near Payne Elementary School!).

screenshot 2019-01-30 12.11.27