City Council Members of the District of Columbia
United States of America

New analysis of the DCPS budget gives the Council the opportunity to make important adjustments that will support a high quality of education in every DC public school next year.

We appreciate Council Member Barry and his staff for providing thorough and expert analysis on the DCPS budget. We are encouraged by the possibility that the Council can address some of the deep cuts that were made to local schools this year without radically disrupting other programs. In your capacity to exercise both oversight and budget authority, you now have a rare opportunity to give schools much more of what they need to do their important work, and to support the mission of public education.

DCPS increased the funds set aside for fringe benefits beyond what was necessary. The actual expenditures have been increasing annually by about 8%. However, for both this year and next, the increase budgeted is 27%. This amount totals close to $18 million for FY 2012 and FY 2013. The actual for 2012 is not yet available. There would have to be significant rationale to support a change in the projected fringe benefit increase from 8% to 27% especially given the cuts in other parts of the DCPS budget.

DCPS has also set aside more than the actual expenditures for fixed costs of utilities for next year, increasing this budget by close to 8 million dollars, an increase of 20%.

In addition DCPS initiated a 10 million dollar one year incentive fund for special projects “Proving What’s Possible” which would allow (primarily) the 40 lowest performing schools the opportunity to compete through a grant process for additional funds. These schools sustained heavy losses in the budget allocation process, the funds are actually needed and may not be viewed as extra.

We understand it is a serious matter to adjust an agency budget at this stage of the process. However, the cost of the loss the schools are sustaining is substantial and will heavily affect their ability to provide a quality education to the children and young adults they serve.

You have the opportunity to address the substantial loss at each school and leave funds to address innovation and the other basic functions.

We listened to the budget hearings and heard these staffing losses cited often and passionately across many schools. We strongly urge you to exercise your authority as our representatives. Our suggestion is to take 5 million dollars from each of the three funds identified above for a total of 15 million dollars.

We request that the City Council require DCPS to re- program the 15 million dollars. Our suggestion is to take the funds from fringe benefits, fixed costs and the PWP grant in order to fund these identified basic vital functions.

Restore the teacher/ pupil ratio at the secondary level which as it stands will raise class size for middle grades to 26.5 and in the high schools to 29- 32.

Restore librarians – one third of the DCPS schools are losing librarians;

Restore the supply and equipment budgets which were cut by 25%;

Restore the special education coordinators – the GAO budget book shows that special education funding is flat. The testimony indicated that the large amount of documentation required may not be accomplished by a school psychologist who is working with the students and their families as a psychologist not a coordinator.

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The Support DCPS Schools petition to City Council Members of the District of Columbia was written by Cathy Reilly and is in the category Education at GoPetition.