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Parents United for the D.C. Public Schools
11 Dupont Circle, N.W. Room 433, Washington. D.C. 20036 (202) 518=3667; Fax (202) 319-1010

APRIL 2000

Council of the District of Columbia Public Hearing
The DC Public School Budget for FY 2001 — Next Year
Music Education in the DC Public Schools
DC Youth Orchestra Program Offers Scholarships
Join a DC Voice Action Group
Salute to Academic Excellence
Million Mom March
Reinvigorating Parent Roles in LSRTS Recommendations
Stanford 9 Blues
Emergency Board of Trustees Resigns
Council Committee Hearing Cancellations Hurt Parent Participation
From the Office of Parents Affairs, DCPS


Friday, April 7, 2000
441 4th St., NW (One Judiciary Square)
Council Chambers

We've told the Mayor what we want in our schools. Now, don't let the Council cut the fully funded budget submitted to them from the Mayor. Organizations will be permitted a maximum of 10 minutes for oral presentation and individuals a maximum of five minutes. Write your testimony and speak only to the important points. The lengthier statement and deeper arguments for full funding can be left to the written statement. To get your name on the witness list, call Kristy Tate at 724-8068.

Volunteer to visit ward and at-large Councilmembers. Call 518-3667. Prep session with school finance analyst, Mary Levy, 7 pm Thursday April 6 at Sumner School (17th & N, NW).

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Never in Parents United's 20 year history has a mayor proposed to fund our schools at the level the Superintendent requested. The Mayor's Proposed School Budget offers "Full Funding." We are always trying to get the Council to raise the Mayor's proposal. Now Council members, intent on giving a tax cut, want to reduce the Mayor's proposal for our schools. Attend the hearing and speak in favor of full finding.

To testify, examine your children's needs and what your school offers. Then develop a schoolwide framework for issues and present them at the hearing. Go to your Local School Restructuring Team and find out what they planned to eliminate when the school system told the teams to plan assuming they would only get 90% of their funding. That is what the consequences will likely be if the school budget is underfunded.

The Council determines how much money each agency receives. The "Budget Mark-up," when Councilmembers make final decisions on individual agency budgets begins on April 14' with the Education budget to be marked up on April 20th. Parents United will organize visits to Ward and at-large council members. If you can join us, call 518-3667. We will tell you our schedule. We encourage you and your friends to call, fax or e-mail your councilmember to say that you want formula funding for our schools with sufficient funding for transportation, special education tuition and DC Charter Schools. We want our traditional public schools and charter schools adequately funded. Contact numbers for councilmembers are below.

Chairman Linda Cropp: 724-8032; 724-8085 FAX;
Harold Brazil, At-Large: 724-8174; 724-8156 FAX;
Carol Schwartz, At-Large: 724-8105; 724-8071 FAX;
David Catania, At-Large: 724-7772; 724-8087 FAX;
Phil Mendelson, At-Large: 724-8064; 724-8099 FAX;
Jim Graham, Ward 1: 724-8181; 724-8108 FAX;
Jack Evans, Ward 2: 724-8058; 724-8023 FAX;
Kathleen Patterson, Ward 3: 724-8062; 724-8118 FAX;
Charlene Drew Jarvis, Ward 4: 724-8052; 724-8120 FAX;
Vincent Orange, Ward 5: 724-8028; 724-8076 FAX;
Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6: 724-8072; 724-8054 FAX;
Kevin Chavous, Ward 7: 724-8068; 724-8097 FAX;
Sandra Allen, Ward 8: 7248045; 724-8055 FAX;

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So Far, Full Funding for DCPS, Short Funding for Public Charter Schools

DCPS budget submission
DCPS students — based on DC's Uniform Per Student Formula $521 M
Other (state level — non-public special ed, transportation, state agency) $132 M

Total local funding

$653 M
Mayor's Recommended Funding, March 13, 2000 $653 M
Council: will decide in April — but members are threatening to provide much less.

DC Uniform Per Student Funding Formula: This is the DC Council's law to fund DCPS and public charter schools based on their enrollment. (Different from the Superintendent's Weighted Student Formula, which allocates money to individual schools within DCPS.) The Uniform Formula provides a "foundation" amount for general education and overhead of $5,500 per pupil, plus inflation since 1999. The foundation for FY 2001 is 55.''=8 per student. The formula also provides percentage additions of

  • 5-25% more for students in certain grade levels
  • 22% to 175° add-on for special education (depending on level of services), 40% add-on for ESL, and 10% add-on for summer school (when required for promotion).

The law bases DCPS funding on fall enrollment in the prior year, as verified by an independent audit.

State Level Functions: DCPS pays certain costs not borne by public charter schools. These are tuition for special education students in private schools including residential institutions for severely handicapped students, transportation of all special ed students entitled to it, educational costs for children in foster care and juvenile facilities, and "state agency" functions like the child census.

Public Charter Schools: About 7,000 students attend 27 DC public charter schools this year, and next year enrollment is expected to rise to almost 12,000 students in 35 public charter schools. Each school will be entitled to the same formula funding for each pupil as DCPS receives plus a facilities allowance of about $1000 per pupil, which is the equivalent of capital budget funding for DCPS. Charter schools are expected to need about $100 million but the Mayor has recommended funding of $51 million, plus $35 million from the city's reserve fund, which might not be available for this purpose. Thus, charter schools may be short by up to $15 million, or even $50 million.

What is the Per Pupil Expenditure? The $112 million for state functions in this year's budget ($132 next year) does not reach regular DCPS students. It supports special ed students in private schools, including wards of the city, and District-wide functions. Formula funding of $488 million this year ($521 million next) supports the approximately 68,800 students in regular DC public schools as follows:

Year Average per DCPS pupil Special ed per DCPS pupil ESL per DCPS pupil General education + overhead per pupil
2000 $7,088 $5,283 $2,516 $6,227
2001 $7,569 $5,880 $2,635 $6,623

Total DCPS Funding recommended by the Mayor for next year is 9% more than this year - but that is what the Uniform Formula requires. It is also only 20% more than DCPS spent six years ago, less than the increase in inflation. Two major changes occurred in between: (1) Large budget cuts led to school closings and to big cuts in central offices, custodians and teachers, and recent increases have restored some losses. (2) Costs of special education grew enormously, especially costs of private tuition and related transportation, which have tripled since the Control Board took over schools (what an accomplishment!).

FY 1994 Actual Expenditures FY 1997 Actual Expenditures FY 2000 Approved Budget FY 2001 Requested Budget
$545.7 M $545.0 M $599.6 M $652.9 M

Where Does DCPS Money Go? Overall, about 65% of the budget goes to local school instructional programs, and another 10% to local school facilities and security. Almost 20% goes to private school tuition for special education students and special ed transportation. The rest goes to central office management (6%) and state agency functions (1 %).

Of the increase requested, 58% will go into local schools: teacher and principals pay raises, staff and supplies under the Superintendent's Weighted Student Formula and academic improvement initiatives such as targeted assistance for low-performing schools, in school suspension programs. Most of the rest goes to special education transportation and tuition.

Central offices include instructional program supervision, educational accountability and testing, staff development, personnel, labor relations, accounting, payroll, budget, MIS, telecommunications, procurement, warehouse, mail, reproduction, equipment maintenance, management of food service and facilities, legal services, hearing and appeals, ombudsman, Channel 28, communications and parent involvement as well as the Superintendent, Deputy and Boards of Trustees and Education.

  FY 2000 Approved Budget FY 2001 Approved Budget


$$ mill % $$ mill % $$ mill
WSF school-based staff, supplies $367.9 61.3% $390.2 59.8% +$22.3
Other school-based instruction $22.4 3.7% $30.1 4.6% +$7.7
School-based security, repairs, etc. $58.4 9.7% $59.1 9.1% +$0.7

Subtotal school-based

$448.7 74.8% $479.4 73.4% +$30.7
Central offices $37.8 6.2% $39.0 6.0% +$1.2
Non DCPS special education / state $108.3 18.1% $122.8 18.8% +$14.5
Other — state agency, miscellaneous $5.0 0.9% $11.7 1.8% +$6.7


$599.8 100% $652.9 100% +$53.1

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CHIME (Community Help in Music Education) is working to get some music education into each public school. They will be featured on a segment of Metro Connection on WAMU (88.5 FM) between 11 - 12 am either on April I or April 8. You will hear recorder classes held for all 3rd and 4th graders at Bancroft Elementary School. There are currently 8 volunteer teachers giving weekly instruction to approximately 300 public school students. Others will begin in the fall. If you are interested, call Dorothy Marschak at 232-2731.

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D.C. Public School Students: The D.C. Youth Orchestra Program (DCYOP) has several scholarships available to study string bass, oboe, bassoon, French horn and trombone. If possible, the student's school should provide the instrument. There are some instruments available to rent from the DCYOP for a cost of $35 per semester and a refundable deposit of $50. Students will take the instrument home so they can practice and bring the instrument to classes which are held at Coolidge High School (located at 5th & Sheridan Sts., NW). All wind instrument students have a $20 music fee. Call 202-723-1612 for more information or to register your child.

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DC VOICE (District Community Voices Organized and Informed for Change in Education) is convening action groups this fall to facilitate broad public participation in the implementation of DC VOICE's three areas of work: constituency building, professional development and research and data. Each action group will work closely with a DC VOICE staff person to provide advice and support in the respective program areas.

April 5, 2000: Constituency Building - to strengthen the public voice in public education by engaging all sectors of the public and mobilize it to both support high quality education and hold the city and school system accountable for providing it. For more information call Erika Landberg, 986-8534.

April 6, 2000: Professional Development - to support the DCPS transition to standards-based instruction at local schools by using research-based methods for improved teaching and learning. For more information call Deborah Menkart, 538-7205.

April 13, 2000: Research and Data - to increase the reliability and availability of local school data; to increase the accessibility of available national research; and ensure that school reform efforts are informed by in-depth critical analysis of data by local stakeholders. For more information, call Glenda Partee, 775-9731.

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6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
Wednesday, May 31, 2000
Eastern Senior High School Presented by Parents United with the DC PTA and SHAPPE

PARENTS UNITED plans its first "Celebration of Academic Excellence" for public school students in grades 9-12 who have a 3.0 cumulative grade average. This is an event to let students bask in their accomplishments and receive the accolades of fellow students, parents and city officials.

Students, ask your school counselor for your application and further information. Only pre-registered students will receive certificates or be eligible for a few monetary awards that will be given to selected students. Students must be present to receive certificates and awards.

Parents, volunteer your time to make this event a success. We need volunteers during the event and support for committees on decorations, school contacts, publicity, awards, etc. Please call Parents United at (202) 518-3667 to support this celebration.

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Outraged by gun violence that has killed or wounded children, thousands of mothers are organizing the Million Mom March aimed at pressuring Congress to enact tougher controls on guns. On Mothers Day, May 14, 2000, mothers and "honorary moms" from across America will march in Washington, DC and in their own communities to encourage Congress to pass sensible gun legislation. If you are interested, call 1-888-989MOMS, or visit their web site:

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Parents charged their representatives on the Governance Committee for LSRTs with providing more effective support for participants in school improvement teams during the Parents United Winter Meeting on March 8th. The parent representatives on the Governance Committee - Delabian Rice-Thurston of Parents United, Alieze Stallworth of the DC PTA, Sonora Simpson of the Special Education Coalition and Donald Wyatt of the Brent PTA -- want to represent your views. Tell us whether any issues kept your LSRT from developing effective strategies to improve academic achievement.

Parent issues: Some meetings are called without notice or during work hours and parents are unable to attend. While the rules now require that at least one parent be present to have a quorum, that single parent can feel overwhelmed. Meeting times need to accommodate all participants. Parents are still disappointed that the number of parents does not equal the number of teachers on the LSRT. Teams need better training to understand how LSRTs are supposed to work, what makes an effective school, and what programs help children to be well educated.

PTA/HSA issues: Some PTA/HSAs do not hold real elections for LSRT parent membership, do not replace members who leave and do not hold those elected to the LSRT responsible for failing to participate regularly. In those schools without a parent organization of any kind, the system has made no provision for selecting parents to the LSRT.

Issues relating to principals: Principals need to show respect for parents' ideas by implementing programs parents want for their children if parents are to believe participating in an LSRT is worth their time. Principals do not always give parents the information they need to make recommendations - budget, spending data, parent satisfaction survey results. The cooperation of principals preparing and distributing notices is essential when LSRTs need to communicate with parents. The conflict between consensual decision making and the principal as final authority is not resolved and leads to tension and hard feelings.

LSRT structural issues: LSRT decision making rules for adopting the Local School Plan are no longer built around developing the consensus. The Superintendent now permits adopting the School Plan by a vote of 80% of the LSRT voting members. In addition, the vote of only one of the four parents is required to adopt the plan. The School Plan is focused on academic improvement. While this makes decisions easier than consensus, it does not force the group to adopt policies that everyone can "live with" as did the consensus structure. Parents cannot be certain their issues are presented strongly when decisions are made if LSRT parents are employees of the school or appointed by the principal, contrary to the rules for selecting parents by a vote of parents. Some LSRTs do not share their actions with their parents as required by the rules. Minutes are not posted in the library, parents do not understand that all meetings are open to the public, few parents attend the four meetings a year at which parents are allowed to speak.

The LSRT Governance Committee needs to know what makes LSRTs effective agents for raising achievement and what support teams need to be effective. Call Delabian at 518-3667 or Alieze at 543-0333.

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Is the Stanford 9 obsession driving your school to stop educating and focus on test prepping? We want to know what is happening in your school that takes time away from actual student learning. Wilson SHS, for example, spent one morning doing a whole school Stanford 9 test prep. Seniors and nontesters spent their academic day in the cafeteria. We have reports of schools with daily test-prep courses for all students.

If this administration is going to threaten principals with a loss of their job unless their test scores rise, we will continue to have a focus on test prep as a "sure thing" for raising scores 5%. Providing a high quality over all academic structure, demanding reading, requiring good writing assignments, requiring hands-on science experiences in schools, demanding that each student take high quality academic courses, providing good teachers to teach the courses is the indirect way to raise scores. It is indirect but a more substantive approach to high test scores.

High stakes testing is putting our system on a treadmill.

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The controversy over Paul Junior High's conversion to a charter school led all but one member of the appointed Emergency Board of Trustees (EBOT) to resign in anger. (Only the parent representative Nate Howard remains.) When the EBOT refused to give the Paul JHS charter school their building as permitted in the text describing whole school conversion, the Congress pressured the Control Board to give Paul its building. The members of the Board of Trustees then resigned when it was clear that the Control Board was nullifying the Superintendent's decision to share the Paul JHS space as approved by the EBOT.

The Congressional school oversight hearing held March 21st was focused only on the Charter school/DCPS relationship, particularly the Paul School conversion controversy. Arlene Ackerman, Constance Newman of the Control Board, Josephine Baker of the Charter School Board and Malcolm Peabody of FOCUS, an organization that supports charter schools, were the only people who testified. DCPTA and PUDC were not allowed to testify although they asked to.

For those who want a swift return to elected governance of our schools, perhaps the resignation of the EBOT is an unexpected opportunity. At this time, only the Control Board (and Nate Howard) oversee our school system. Parents United is aware of efforts to replace the EBOT with the elected School Board. Issues of which we are aware include whether the entire elected board should assume that role, whether the Control Board will limit participants, and the role of Nate Howard, an appointee, if elected members become part of the oversight body.

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The last minute postponement of the March 16'h Hearing on the FY 2001 school budget by the Committee on Education, Recreation and Libraries was infuriating. This is only the latest of these inconvenient cancellations blamed on Superintendent Ackerman's failure to attend in person. While her failure to attend was the rumored cause, the Superintendent had actually returned from an ailing father in time for the hearing. Committee Chair Chavous said, from the dais that the Council had so many concerns about the Mayor's overall budget that they needed time to assess the city's budget in order to ask the proper questions of the Superintendent. Without the Superintendent, Chavous believes there is no reason to have a hearing.

Parents United questions the rationale that there can be no hearing on the DC Public Schools without Superintendent Ackerman herself. Parents' desires for their children are not predicated on the fine points of municipal finance or educational administration. Our desires do not change because the city, or the school system do or do not have the funds, are or are not well administered. We have the right, the obligation to tell our leaders what we want for our children and appraise whether what the leadership is doing meets our children's needs. Our political leaders should listen. Quite frankly, we do not attend hearings to watch the Council and school system accuse each other of incompetence. We attend to obtain educational services and supports for our children.

These last minute hearing cancellations discourage public participation in city-wide decisionmaking. Parents United had made a significant effort to call PTA/HSA leaders and encourage them to attend and testify when the hearing was announced only four days earlier and did not make it into our newsletter. (Chavous' staff explained that the Council believed the Mayor's budget would be late and so did not issue their usual community flyer. The formal announcement in the DC Register may come out months earlier but many activists wait for the later committee flyer.)

A teacher from Garrison Elementary, the head of the principals' union and a handful of parents who were not informed of the change took their time to come and were not able to deliver their comments. Parents planning to attend "A Rally to Support the 2001 Budget" after the hearing were confused when those on the list to testify learned that the hearing was postponed. We commend representatives from Hyde, Jefferson JHS, Ellington SOA, Garrison, Wilson SHS, Oyster, Spingarn SHS; Miner, and Draper for participating in the budget process. Parents must do it again, in force on April 7th 2 PM - 6 PM.

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Community Meetings on the New Paul Magnet Program (Mathematics, Arts, Science, Technology): Informative discussions on a high quality and comprehensive curriculum. Dates and Locations: Aril 4 Shepherd ES (7800 14th St., NW, 7:30 - 9:30 pm April 5, Brightwood ES (1300 Nicholson St., NW - near 13th St. & Military), 6:30 - 9:00 pm (presentation given in Spanish) April 6, Backus MS (5171 S. Dakota Ave. NE - near Galloway St.), 6:30 - 9:00 pm

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For those of you (and you are probably in the majority) who received our last newsletter late, WE APOLOGIZE! It was a comedy of errors including our lateness in getting the UPDATE to the printer, there was a delay by the printer and a delay in the mailing and the post office was particularly slow in delivery. We hope this issue has gotten to you early enough!

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The editor of the UPDATE is Delabian L. Rice-Thurston, Executive Director of Parents United for the D.C. Public Schools. The Board of Parents United consists of Sheila Carr and Janice Autrey, Co-Chairs; Karalene Robbins and Wayne Proctor, Secretaries; Francesca Dixon, Treasurer; and At-Large Members: Brenda Artis, Mary Filardo, Sergio Luna, John Pfeiffer, Eluvia Sanchez, Lairold Street, Ron Stroman, Angela Thompson-Murphy and Meg Weekes. Parents United receives its funding from individuals, school PTA/HSAs and foundations, such as The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and the Woodward Foundation.

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