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CHPSPO Meets Tueday, April 19, at Stuart Hobson

CHPSPO will meet on Tuesday, April 19, at Stuart Hobson (410 D Street, NE). We will be joined by the 21st Century School Fund members who have been involved in creating on-line DCPS budget and capital improvement tools. We’ll also discuss follow up to last week’s budget hearings (Ward 6 had a terrific showing at the hearings!!!), Bike-to-School Day (May 4), and share how schools get transportation for field trips.

Hope to see you on Tuesday.

Suzanne Wells

041916 CHPSPO Agenda.docx

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Evan Yeats Testimony – DCPS Budget Hearing – April 14 2016

Testimony of Evan Yeats

Parent, J.O. Wilson Elementary

to the DC Council Committee on Education

April 14, 2016

For more information: evan.yeats (at) gmail (dot) com

 

Good evening members of the committee. My name is Evan Yeats, and I’m the parent of a pre-kindergarten student at J.O. Wilson. I’m a resident of Petworth in Ward 4, and we’re one of many out-of-boundary parents that have found a home at J.O. Wilson.

I wanted to start by thanking both the Chairman and the Mayor for working to find a system to determine when school renovations occur that is based more in data and less in politics and influence. It’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Perhaps it’s because my son’s school gets left behind in these calculations, but I can’t help but worry about four criteria that got left off the funding formulas:

ADA accessibility: you’ve heard this concern from the other two parents up here, and I can’t help but emphasize it again. We believe that all children should be able to get the quality education our children are getting, and right now, that’s not possible. Right now, we have no idea if or when that issue will be fixed and urge you to include ADA accessibility as part of your renovation formula. A school should be accessible for the whole community.

Date of last renovation: By not considering the scope of the renovation, this scoring negatively impacts schools that have been already negatively impacted by the now-abandoned phased renovation system. At J.O. Wilson, we received phase one of a three phase renovation – a phase that mainly consisted of replacing windows and the HVAC system over a portion of the building. A large portion of the building was not touched by this phase one, and the needs are clearly far greater than just new windows. Under this committee’s scoring system, we receive the same score as a school that was constructed new on the same date, while clearly our building is not in the same condition.

Health and safety concerns: while the formula used by this committee reflects the DGS “grades” assigned to the facilities, they don’t reflect real health & safety concerns of the population that are using them. The District is probably already be tracking, for liability purposes, a more useful metric – like building-related injury reports. If students and community members are being injured due to the condition of a DCPS facility, that should count in your rankings.

Equity of access to facilities: An indoor activity and play space, like a gym, is essential for elementary school children in a climate like Washington’s where a substantial portion of their recreation time is likely to be spent indoors. J.O. Wilson doesn’t have a gym, and that paired with high enrollment and high building utilization means that there is essentially no indoor recreation space. My son’s class takes indoor recess by literally running laps in the halls. In the committee’s formula, our school is the same priority as a (hypothetical) school that has a gym, an auditorium, a separate cafeteria or even a pool.

I believe, that like the parents and families at J.O. Wilson, that the Mayor and the members of this committee want to provide facilities for DCPS students that enable our children to learn and succeed. I admire the committee’s efforts to make a fairer, more transparent process for renovations. But I think that these categories need consideration, as well.

Thank you.

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Bike to School Day is May (the) 4th – save the date!

BTSD_2inch_Color

What: Bike to School Day

When: WEDNESDAY, MAY (the) 4th, 7:30 AM – 8:20 AM
(Star Wars jokes, compliments of our very own Laura Marks!)

Where: Lincoln Park (East Capitol St between 11th and 13th Streets)

Who: All our neighborhood students + friends from the National Center for Safe Routes to Schools + local and national celebrities!

Look out for details about the special activities planned!

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Sandra Moscoso Testimony – DCPS Budget Hearing – April 14 2016

Testimony by Sandra Moscoso

Education Committee DCPS Budget Oversight Hearing,

April 14, 2016

 

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.

I am a member of the Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization (CHPSPO), a DCPS Parent at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan and a DC Charter School Parent at BASISDC PCS.

My ask of Council given your influence over education budget are:

  • Be transparent in how decisions are made.
  • Be consistent in your support of and honor commitments made to student, families, and educators.
  • Get the most out of limited funds by supporting TRUE coordination between DC public and DC charter schools.

On transparency, while city education agencies have made great strides over the past few years around making data and policy more accessible, there is still a long way to go for the lay (or even savvy) parent to understand the rationale behind how decisions are made.

This is due to the lack of transparency and lack of consistency around how funding decisions are made. Capital funding decisions in particular.

In the absence of transparent inputs, processes, and evidence-based decision-making, there is plenty of room for lack of trust. Sadly, this is where many (if not most) of parents like me sit today.

On consistency, honor commitments our students depend on.

I think back to my daughter’s school, Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan. On April 6, 2011, I sat in the school’s multi-purpose room, along with about 100 parents, teachers, and students, as we learned about our school’s future home. The then Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization of DC Public Schools delivered a presentation of plans for the building we would be moving into August of that year. Those plans included basic repairs to get the school ready to safely accommodate our students, with plans for Phase 1 modernization in 2014.

While disappointed that we would wait 3 years for modernization, we trusted in the system and patiently waited our turn. 2014 has come and gone, and now our students (most of who will have aged out) will have to wait over a decade for a modernized building?

We ask a lot of our students (and their teachers). We ask them to sit through long days, 10-20 minutes to scarf down their lunch, and dwindling recess. We ask them to tolerate hours of skill and drill, and assessments every 6 weeks (if not more). We ask them to adjust to bouncing around schools, yo-yo access to resources, and initiatives du jour. On top of this, our students live with the pressure that if they do not perform well on standardized tests, their teachers or principal could get fired. This is the type of responsibility we put onto 3rd graders, 9 year olds.

In turn, can we really not accept the responsibility for ensuring their learning environments are adequate? We owe them modern, beautiful spaces to learn.

Finally, I recognize that resources are limited and funding is scarce. I believe that funding two public education sectors without strategic coordination between them exacerbates the issue of scarcity.

I have children in both sectors, and the problems I witness in both are quite similar. Aging facilities in need up updating, scarce resources for programming. I cannot understand how it is possible that the city is willing to open a school in the same neighborhood where a similar, up and coming but highly under-resourced school exists. I have seen first-hand how this reckless practice has hurt my children’s DCPS and Charter middle schools, as well as all of my neighborhood middle schools like Eliot-Hine, Stuart-Hobson, and Jefferson Academy.

Fund the schools here today adequately (DCPS and Charter) give them a chance to succeed, and put a hold on opening new ones or we’ll never find our way out of this cycle.

Ensuring there is true coordination between the two sectors should be at the top of EVERY councilmember’s agenda. Doing this well will mean better use of resources, and equity around how those resources are distributed.

Back to trust, if we cannot count on our elected officials to find a way to get the most out of our education sectors, I wonder whether we have the right officials in place. I am very sorry to put it this way, but the argument of “Congress gonna Congress” cannot possibly be tolerated when it comes to addressing our city’s education challenges.

I have faith in this Council, I hope that I can continue to say you have my trust.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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Jablow testimony, DME Budget Hearing 4/13/16

I am Valerie Jablow, testifying about the ineffective public education stewardship of the DME’s office that I have experienced as a Ward 6 public school parent. This lack of effectiveness comes at the expense of by right schools and their students, who are the majority of children in DC.

 

Here are some examples:

 

Renovation of DCPS’s Eliot-Hine Middle School has been delayed again, despite mold, rodents, and persistent HVAC issues. Since Eliot was built 85 years ago, its upkeep and improvement have been minimal[1]—as has city investment in most other Ward 6, by right school facilities[2].

 

In the meantime, with charter middle schools starting in 5th grade and actively marketing themselves to Ward 6 by right elementaries,[3] Eliot-Hine’s feeder system has been decimated, and it has lost enrollment for years running.

 

The DME’s office has not addressed these crises.

 

In 2014, then-DME Abigail Smith offered a nearby closed school to charters, presenting data showing hundreds of empty seats at DCPS schools around and including Eliot-Hine.[4] When asked why create another public school in an area where her own data showed a glut of seats, the DME had no answer.

 

Then, during her performance oversight hearing last month, the current DME noted how the city created the misalignment of middle school grades between charters and DCPS[5]—leading to the depopulation of many DCPS elementary and middle schools. The DME testified that she has no idea how to solve this problem.

 

Another example:

 

In March, the DME rolled out data on programmatic capacities of public schools.[6] Charter schools estimated their own capacities, according to current and future uses, curricula, and staffing. Capacities of DCPS schools were estimated by DGS mainly according to square footage.

 

My daughter’s DCPS school, Watkins Elementary, as a result appears to be slightly underenrolled even though it has been fully enrolled—and not meeting ed specs–for decades.

 

And yet, on the basis of this data, the DME analyzed DCPS school utilizations and outlined plans for schools thusly considered underenrolled.[7]

 

But the DME did not outline charter school utilizations–not even for the 44 charters currently in former DCPS spaces.[8] Nor did the DME’s data account for the high closure rate of charter schools,[9] despite both pieces of information being vital to any comprehensive public education planning in DC.[10]

 

The mayor and her deputy supposedly oversee all public education in DC. The buck stops with them for misalignment of middle school grades; poor conditions at schools like Eliot-Hine; and underenrolled schools.

 

And the buck stops with them for equitable planning that would prevent these problems in the first place. Saying “I don’t know how”; pretending no one has oversight of charter schools or enrollment; or shifting the burden to a temporary, volunteer group (the cross sector task force) are excuses that hurt kids.

 

Here is how things could be better—tomorrow, if you and the mayor wanted:

 

–All charter and DCPS middle school grades aligned starting SY17.

–No school created or closed before the poor conditions at Eliot-Hine and other unrenovated schools are completely remedied.

–No school created until empty seats at existing schools are filled.

–School capacities and uses equitably analyzed across sectors—and, until they are, no school openings, closures, or new uses.

 

Our kids deserve education leaders who work for all DC public education students. Thank you.

—————-

Footnotes

[1] See http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/30291/eliot-hine-a-dc-middle-school-is-falling-apart/ and DGS data used to prioritize FY16 capital spending.

 

[2] In a March 2016 presentation, the 21st Century School Fund presented data on DCPS capital expenditures from 1998 through 2015 by ward. Expenditures for Ward 6 were the lowest in the city, both as measured in costs per square foot as well as per attending student:

 

Ward 1: $44,076/student; $169/sf

Ward 2: $48,038/student; $214/sf

Ward 3: $54,373/student; $323/sf

Ward 4: $36,078/student; $149/sf

Ward 5: $59,244/student; $254/sf

Ward 6: $29,426/student; $126/sf

Ward 7: $33,362/student; $165/sf

Ward 8: $44,541/student; $148/sf

[3] This is obvious to anyone who lives on Capitol Hill and has children in its public schools, but it was recently documented in a story on March 2, 2016 on WAMU (see http://wamu.org/news/16/03/02/5th_grade_dropoff) and also on the blog educationdc.net (https://educationdc.net/2015/09/08/where-have-all-the-4th-graders-gone/).

[4] This was the offer of the closed DCPS elementary Gibbs. Besides the glut of seats, the community around Gibbs objected to its reopening as a school and the process by which that was undertaken. See http://anc6a.org/wp-content/uploads/GibbsProcessConcernsDGS.pdf

 

[5] This was on March 2, 2016, at the performance oversight hearing before the council’s education committee. The exchange on the DME’s recognition of misalignment of middle school grades between charters and DCPS began at the 4:17 mark. At 4:21, Charles Allen asked, “Is this something on the table for the cross sector task force?” The DME responded that the task force would be “truly collaborative,” but warned that “decision rights” are not on the table and she would not enact a “fiat.” She then stated, “I don’t know how we are going to solve it.” The charter school board, she noted, would have to choose to have schools to start at certain grades—and then said that it is not in her power to make them do that. See here: https://educationdc.net/2016/03/24/performance-oversight-tidbits-deputy-mayor-for-education/

[6] Some of this data was used for facts sheets for the cross sector task force, but most appears to have been part of the master facilities plan supplement.

[7] See page 6ff of the MFP supplement, available here: http://dme.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dme/publication/attachments/SY15%20MFP%20Annual%20Supplement3%207%2016.pdf

[8] It is not clear if the city still has the public information about square footage and programmatic capacities for these buildings—but it should, given that many are still owned by the city and leased.

[9] Depending on how one calculates this, the charter closure rate goes from a low of 33% to a high of 40%. The NRC report on mayoral control of schools (http://sites.nationalacademies.org/cs/groups/dbassesite/documents/webpage/dbasse_165783.pdf) noted that 102 charters have been granted in DC since 1996, with 38 since closed and 8 never opened, making for a charter closure rate approaching 40%. A report from the Progressive Policy Institute (http://www.progressivepolicy.org/slider/tale-of-two-systems-education-reform-in-washington-d-c/) notes that a third of all charters have closed between 1998 and 2015, making a closure rate of 33%. See https://educationdc.net/2015/10/07/predicting-the-education-future-in-dc/

 

Adding in DCPS closures makes the school closure rates even more stark. Using 21st Century School Fund data, I counted all DCPS schools closed since 1996, when charters started here. I got 65 schools closed. If you add to this the NRC number of closed charter schools since 1996, you get a total of 103 public schools closed (65 + 38) since 1996, for a closure rate of 51 public schools per decade–or 5 entire public schools closed every year on average in the last 20 years.

 

That is a huge number to sustain for both communities and resources in our city. Add to that the fact that the head of MySchoolDC, the DC public school lottery, testified in March before the council that the most important factor for parents choosing schools is proximity to their home.

 

Our high rates of school closures simply prevent parents from enacting school choice, all the while decimating communities that depend on those schools.

 

[10] Let us not forget another piece vital to education planning: the growth of the student population and the growth of the number of schools. In DC, we do the latter far more than the former. In 1999-2000, DC had 185 public schools serving 74,800 students. In 2014-15, DC had 223 public schools serving 85,400 students (data from the 21st Century School Fund).

 

Thus, over a decade and a half, with a gain of 10,600 public school students (14% growth), we have 38 more public schools (20% growth). Each school created requires infrastructure and staffing, raising costs overall. The mismeasure between those numbers adds to those costs.

 

And adding to all those costs is the high rate of school closures, as detailed in footnote 9 above.

 

Simply put, if we want to plan well for our public school students and save money while doing so, we need to stop creating and closing so many schools.

 

I have found nothing among the materials the DME cites or creates that mentions this.

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CHPSPO Meeting Notes – March 15 2016

Capitol Hill Public Schools Parent Organization
Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan, 215 G St., NE

March 15, 2016 – 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m.

 1) Report out on meeting with DME, Marty Welles and Suzanne Wells

  • Issues raised:
    • Funding/support for Ward 6 middle school Eliot-Hine & Jefferson renovations
    • Task Force; grade misalignment
  • DME suggested issues raised should be heard by charter school leaders/board
  • DME will be responsible for drafting Mayor’s capital improvement plan
  • DCPS now in charge of renovations, but DGS in charge for implementation

2) Discussion of school security procedures, Caroline Kopek-Pezzarossi

  • Are schools locked all the time? Including drop off and pick up?
  • Reports from Miner, Maury, Van Ness, Amidon-Bowen, Tyler, CHM@L, SWS, Watkins, Stuart-Hobson, JO Wilson, Eliot-Hine
  • Variances on front doors being open all day vs locked all day vs locked between 9-3 and after 3:30,
  • DCPS Security Tips Hotline here: http://dcps.dc.gov/page/school-safe

3) Bike to School Day, Sandra Moscoso-Mills

  • Wednesday, May 4 @ Lincoln Park
  • Partnership with National Center for Safe Routes to School
  • Connect with DCPS Cornerstone
  • Reach out to DDOT
  • Follow up planning w/ George, Beth, Danica, Suzanne & Sandra

4) Budget Oversight Hearings – Who is testifying on what – Everyone

 

Next CHPSPO Meeting:  April 19, 2016

UPCOMING EVENTS

Cross Sector Collaboration Task Force

March 21, Education Counsel, 101 Constitution Ave. NW, Suite 900), 6 pm 

Council Performance Budget Oversight Hearings Register at http://bit.ly/EdOversight16

Tuesday, April 12:  PCSB and State Board of Education

Wednesday, April 13: DME

Thursday, April 14 (10 a.m. and 5 p.m.): DCPS (public witnesses)

Monday, April 18: OSSE

Ward 6 Budget Town Hall

April 21st, 6:30-8:30PM Ward 6 CM Allen to host budget town hall, DHS H St Service Center (645 H St. NE) http://www.charlesallenward6.com/fy17budget

Eliot-Hine Enrollment Nights

Tuesday, April 5th and Wed, April 13th (overlap with PTO mtng at 6pm), from 4:30pm – 6:30pm – 1830 Constitution Ave NE

School Auctions

March 19, Maury at the Market, Eastern Market North Hall

April 30, Brent’s Taste of the Hill, Capitol Skyline Hotel

Bike to School Day – May 4 at Lincoln Park. Save the date!

Lion King – May 20 – 21 at Stuart Hobson.  Save the date!