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

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W6PSPO Meets Tuesday, April 9 at CHM@L

The Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization will meet this Tuesday, April 9, from 6:30 – 8 pm at Capitol Hill Montessori@Logan (215 G Street, NE).  We’ll be joined by Theodora Brown with the Ward 5 Council on Education and Eboni-Rose Thompson with the Ward 7 Education Council.  They will share their ward council’s education priorities, and we’ll discuss ways we can support each other’s work.  We will also discuss city-wide impacts with the proposed SY19/20 budget.
Hope to see you on Tuesday.
Suzanne Wells
Status

W6PSPO Meets Tuesday, April 9 @ Capitol Hill Montessori@Logan

The Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization will meet this Tuesday, April 9, from 6:30 – 8 pm at Capitol Hill Montessori@Logan (215 G Street, NE). We’ll be joined by Theodora Brown with the Ward 5 Council on Education and Eboni-Rose Thompson with the Ward 7 Education Council. They will share their ward council’s education priorities, and we’ll discuss ways we can support each other’s work. We will also discuss city-wide impacts with the proposed SY19/20 budget.

Hope to see you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

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Suzanne Wells Testimony – DC Public Schools Budget Oversight Hearing – March 29, 2019

Committee on Whole and Education

Budget Hearing

on the

District of Columbia Public Schools

Friday, March 29, 2019

            Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.  My name is Suzanne Wells.  I am the president of the Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization, and the parent of an 8th grader at Eliot-Hine Middle School.

When the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) released the school report cards in December 2018, Eliot-Hine, a Title 1 school, was rated as a one-star school, ranked in the bottom 5% of all schools in DC, and designated as a Comprehensive Support School.  We learned last night that Eliot-Hine was selected to be a Connected School which will allow the school to become connected with partners and city agencies to offer a range of supports to students, families and staff.  Because of its Comprehensive Support status, Eliot-Hine will be receiving some additional funding.  Is the funding Eliot-Hine will receive enough?  No.  However, because of the school’s low enrollment, it is hard to justify funding it more.

While I don’t feel Eliot-Hine has served the current students at the school well, I am hopeful for its future.  This summer the planned renovation will begin.  We anticipate Principal Magrino will be back next year, and bring much needed stability and leadership to the school.  Training will be provided to staff this summer to strengthen the IB program. The DCPS enrollment team is working to make in-bound families aware of opportunities within the Eastern feeder pattern, e.g., the January Eastern Feeder Fest.  I firmly believe as result of all of these efforts, we will start to see more and more in-bound families choosing Eliot-Hine in the coming years.

We must ensure the same investments are happening at the schools in Wards 7 and 8 that have seen multi-year enrollment declines, and broken feeder patterns.  Targeted efforts in Wards 7 and 8 to fix broken feeder patterns and provide course offerings, experiences and safe passage to and from school that students in other parts of the city have will ensure Ward 7 and 8 families have what they say they want, i.e., quality in-bound schools to choose from, and will be the fiscally responsible thing for the city to do as families are attracted back to DCPS.

To date, as a city, we have not confronted the staggeringly inefficient use of resources.  Why when almost 18% of our city’s budget or close to $2 billion is spent on education are there discrepancies in offerings among our schools, and many school needs going unaddressed?  Why is there going to be a cut in, e.g., school librarians or technology maintenance?  I believe a key reason is we are inefficiently using our education dollars.

No one really understands the inefficient use of resources inherent in our two-sector school system, DCPS and the charter sector, that operates without any coordination.  DC has truly been a leader in investing in capital improvements to our school buildings, and I commend the Council for its support for the renovations of our DCPS schools. Yet many of these renovated schools are under enrolled.  Across the city we have many small and under-enrolled schools that cost more to run on a per student basis than a fully-enrolled school.   There’s no better example of this than our high schools where we fund nineteen high schools (four DCPS and 15 charters) that enroll fewer than 400 students.  These schools cost more to operate on a per student basis, and they don’t offer the students the educational opportunities and experiences they deserve.

Operating small and under-enrolled schools isn’t the only area where we see inefficiencies.  Taxpayers pay over $3,300 for a facilities allocation for every student attending a charter school while we have thousands of empty seats in many of the beautiful DCPS school buildings our city has renovated. And, there are 11 applications before the Public Charter School Board (PCSB) this spring to open new charter schools to serve 4000 additional students while we have over 20,000 vacant seats across both sectors.

In closing, I would like to ask the Council to explain why it makes sense to open up even one new school this year when there are vacant seats in both sectors.  I would also like to ask the Council to explain why it makes sense to open any new schools this spring instead of investing in strengthening the feeder patterns of our by-right school system.  And, I would like ask the Council to commission a budget study that identifies the inefficiencies in our City’s two sector/choice approach so we can reduce the inefficiencies, and put our tax dollars towards supporting students.

 

 

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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

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DC Council: Please Support Transparency, Stability and Success for All Public Schools, All Students

Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization
Please Support Transparency, Stability and Success for
All Public Schools, All Students

The Ward 6 Public Schools Parent Organization (W6PSPO) is an all-volunteer collaboration of parents, educators and community members helping to strengthen and support public schools in Ward 6. Ward 6 schools serve a diverse student population, including students from across the city. Almost 40% of students attending Ward 6 DCPS schools live in Wards 5, 7, and 8.

We believe the DC Council can play a significant role in demanding and shaping a stronger education system that supports success for every student. We ask the Council to leverage every tool in its toolkit, including adjusting budgets, demanding action by DCPS in oversight, requesting a performance-based budget, amending the School Reform Act, stopping administrative actions that have not included robust public engagement and may negatively affect communities, to implement the following recommendations.

Ensure Transparency for All

Transparency for All Schools and LEAs. Parents and students must know that they are safe and supported. We support the Public School Transparency Act and urge the Council to take swift action to pass it.

Strong Oversight. We need strong oversight over both sectors and our education system as a whole to ensure transparency so that parents and the public are never kept in the dark about proposals, decisions or the impact of decisions on students, educators and school communities.

Stabilize School System and Supports

Invest in School Improvement and Stability. Having access to a predictable, high-quality elementary to high school feeder pattern is the most important predictor of in-boundary participation rates. We continue to see the opening of new schools that don’t take into account impacts on feeder patterns [1], pull students out of their in-boundary schools, and spread our precious education dollars thin. We see regular closures of schools causing great disruption and confusion to families. We need strategies for filling under-enrolled schools, particularly middle and high schools, and meeting the needs for middle schools that take into account what communities want. And, we need to continue to build on specialized programs such as language immersion programs by providing them a feeder path that continues those specialized programs.

Invest in Teacher and Principal Retention. Excessively high teacher and principal turnover creates tremendous instability throughout the school systems. An October 3, 2018, DCSBOE report on Teacher Turnover found that “teacher turnover is higher in DC than in other comparable American cities, including New York, Chicago, and Milwaukee, and higher than the national average. The yearly teacher turnover rate, averaged over three years, across both traditional public and public charter schools is about 25 percent, compared to a national average of approximately 16 percent and an average of 19% among a selection of urban districts. In both sectors, schools with the highest percentages of at-risk students tend to suffer from the highest rates of teacher turnover.” We recommend that the Council take action on the recommendations outlined in the report:

  • Create and maintain a single comprehensive and publicly available source of teacher and principal turnover data
  • Require the state to work with LEAs to ensure richer data collection on teacher and principal characteristics
  • Support a new, sustained research project exploring linkages between teacher and principal turnover and student success

In addition, as Chancellor Ferebee said at our recent W6PSPO meeting “Often people don’t leave jobs, they leave leaders.” We must ensure that the principal evaluation system includes effective processes for feedback from staff, students and parents. And we must be sure we are doing all we can to ensure our teachers and principals have the support they need to help all students succeed.

Develop and Follow a System-wide Master Facilities Plan. The master facilities planning by the Administration lacked authentic engagement and is unworkable as it only looks at planning for half of our students. We need a system-wide structure for planning and decision-making around school facilities for all public schools, both DCPS and Charter, including accurate projections for enrollment and vacant seats, strategies for filling under-enrolled schools, and community-responsive and community-engaged planning for new schools. System-wide plans should include coordination and strategy around opening, closing and changing the programmatic focus of schools.

Community-School Supported DC Research Collaborative: Kick off and fund the DC Research Collaborative, guided by a robust, diverse steering committee not comprised of majority mayoral appointees, that ensures safe and full sharing of data to support the work of the Collaborative, grounded in the needs of students and school improvement from the perspectives of those on the ground.

Ensure Adequate Resources and School Budgets

Educational Technology, including IT Support and Teacher Training: The DCPS technology initiative in the Mayor’s budget focuses on computer hardware and is a good first step. However, schools also need adequate IT support and teacher training to ensure that technology is used effectively. A comprehensive, multi-year plan for DCPS technology, as called for by the DCPS Student Technology Equity Act of 2019, is needed. Additionally, Council should press DCPS and OCTO on how it will support school technology for the remainder of this school year, in advance of online PARCC testing.

Adequate and Equitable Education School Budgets: Each year, costs increase faster than increases to school budgets. As a result, many schools are faced with staffing cuts each year. Schools can’t close achievement gaps and ensure college and career readiness for all with fewer and fewer resources each year. We must provide enough resources so every school has a strong base budget that builds on the previous year’s budget. In addition, at-risk funding must supplement, not supplant, other funding. Solving this challenge will likely involve increasing DCPS’s budget allocation from the Mayor as well as “looking under the hood” in DCPS central office budgeting, and at citywide costs for operating both DCPS and a charter sector. We highly recommend that Council (1) require and fund the DC Auditor to conduct a DCPS and PCSB budget audit and (2) commission a school budget expert to investigate these issues and make recommendations to mitigate unstable school budgeting and continued reductions in school staffs in the years to come.

Adequate Capital Budget for School Facilities: We must ensure that our DCPS schools that have yet to be modernized see a fast track to modernization and that we have robust funding for ongoing maintenance, repair and stabilization needs. We must also ensure safe, healthy, and modern school buildings.

  • Ensure an Effective Partnership between DGS and DCPS: Currently, school buildings are not being maintained efficiently and effectively. School communities too often have to turn to Councilmembers, media and social media to turn work orders into action items. We need significant oversight that will lead to new policy or funding that will ensure DGS and DCPS can work together efficiently and effectively to quick-response action that ensures the safety and health of students and faculty at every school.

  • Ensure Healthy and Safe Schools: Significant attention needs to be paid to ensure agencies are adequately protecting the health and safety of students, educators and staff in schools. We need to ensure transparency and support for lead-free schools and water and keep schools safe from other environmental hazards. We need to ensure transparency and allow the public access to observe implementation of the Water Filtration and Testing Protocol.

Support and Demand Effective Public Engagement

Effective Local School Advisory Teams (LSATs): LSATs are a critical aspect of ensuring school budgets are implemented effectively and are responsive to educator, student, and school community needs. However, LSATs are implemented unevenly and with varying degrees of success across schools. There should be significant research and oversight to understand the current state of LSATs and solutions uncovered to ensure robust engagement of LSATs across all schools.

Agency Support for Authentic Community Engagement: We need a robust conversation about how to improve community engagement in education issues involving the Mayor’s office, DME, DCPS, OSSE and the PCSB. From the lack of engagement in the Chancellor search to lack of regular engagement with communities about how to problem-solve together, DC has generally failed in engaging parents and communities in productive solutions. We believe that authentic engagement can be a critical lever in accelerating progress for students. Oversight is needed to uncover how engagement can be improved and systems put in place to ensure its effective use. Specific examples include major disconnects between agencies and those on the ground (e.g., educators and parents) on issues such as modernization, stabilization, school budgeting, school openings, strengthening feeder systems, school technology needs, etc.


[1] DCPS will open a new selective high school this year, Bard High School Early College and plans to double the capacity of  Banneker Academic High School, and the PCSB is considering 11 new applications this spring that include six stand-alone middle or high schools.

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Goodbye CHPSPO, Hello W6PSPO!