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21st Century School Fund Press Package on DC School Reform
January 21, 1998

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Press Release
Press contact: Mary Filardo, 21st Century School Fund
Wednesday, January 21,1998
745-3745

Parent and Community School Advocates Demand Oversight and a Greater Community Role in DC School Reform

Representatives of school advocacy groups from across the District today challenged the DC public schools administration to build on the knowledge of DC parents and advocates and to learn from the last 14 months of crisis in the DC public schools as well as the mistakes of its predecessors. The groups, part of a coalition of education advocacy and parent organizations, demanded that there be public monitoring and oversight of the DC public schools and that parents, community and advocacy organizations be allowed to be a part of solving problems. Without more informed decisions - decisions taken in consultation with parents and community - real reform will not take hold. They called on the Control Board to start over with a spirit of cooperation and to reach out to parents and the community.

"At this moment, the system is undergoing unprecedented change," said Marlene Berlin, Ad Hoc Parents Coalition. "We have got to make sure that reform is moving in the direction parents and community want. Parents want change that will be deep, broad, and sustainable. Edicts from the top without buy-in from the community won't work."

The groups noted the administrative confusion over the last 14 months: the chaotic school closings of the spring, the three week delay in schools opening, the roofing audit, the survey of principals, and the continuing crisis in special education.

"Becton has made this harder than it needs to be," said Sarah Woodhead, of the 21 st Century School Fund. "DCPS must start accepting partnership with parents, activists, and community members. We have experience and resources, we're locally based, and we have to live with the results of the current reform efforts."

The groups point out the major difference in Chicago's takeover, where the public saw significant change within six months, and the DC public schools experience: in Chicago the community was inside the process.

The coalition presented a poll conducted of parents across the District. Some of the findings were:

  • More than three quarters of parents reported class sizes the same or larger than in pervious years.
  • More than three quarters of parents reported the same or fewer course offerings as last year.
  • A majority of parents reported the loss of good teachers from their schools.
  • Many parents found that the loss of educational aides has had an adverse impact.

The coalition asked the DC public schools to:

  • Introduce the proposed new standards aligned to the curriculum to parents and the community. Get the buy-in of parents and align standards, assessment, curriculum, and budget before imposing the sanctions implied by high-stakes testing

  • Recognize that parents and communities are partners in school reform. Establish communication channels for two-way flow of information between parents and the school system.

  • Develop competitive recruitment and retention packages for quality teachers. Revisit the decision on standard certification of new teachers, focus on a variety of qualification indicators and pay teachers accordingly.

  • Establish plans, structures and procedures for school facilities maintenance and for a comprehensive modernization program. DCPS must develop a maintenance and modernization program that will provide educationally-appropriate as well as safe learning environments for all students.

  • Establish checks and balances on the DC public schools budget and policymaking. There must be a governance structure in place that enables parents and communities to have a say in the allocation of public funds and the type and quality of education being designed for them.

  • Provide quality services to special populations in the DC public schools. The situation can only be described as "in crisis." Parent groups are eager and prepared to work together with the DC public schools to find solutions to current service delivery problems. Stop missing filing dates for federal funds for special education.

The education advocacy groups represented at the press conference are: 21st Century School Fund, the Ad Hoc Parent Group, PACE, Project VOICE, the Washington Parent Group Fund and the Shaw Targeted Education Program.

These and other parent and education groups have undertaken an initiative to build a coalition of organizations that will be major participants in the current school reform. The mission of the coalition is to:

  • Build a broad-based constituency of individuals, community organizations and the business and foundation community to participate actively and constructively in the school reform;
  • Monitor and encourage a high standard of planning for facilities maintenance and school modernization;
  • Review initiatives and programs of the DCPS administration with other stakeholders to assess the benefits and drawbacks of these actions; and
  • Take positions on issues or school system actions that can benefit from higher visibility and greater public discussion.

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PRESS STATEMENT

21st Century School Fund
JANUARY 21, 1998

The 21st Century School Fund is a small organization, which has as its mission building the public will and capacity to modernize schools in the District of Columbia. Our interest in school modernization is to ensure the facilities support educational programs and that they stabilize and enhance neighborhoods and communities. We also work to develop alternative ways to finance school construction and are responsible for providing information and assistance to other urban school districts on facilities master and capital planning and on public/private development partnerships.

In November of 1996, the Control Board fired Superintendent Franklin Smith, reduced the Board of Education to an advisory board and put in a CEO, and an Emergency Board of Trustees. The Control Board gave the CEO broad powers in budget, procurement and personnel. The Control Board took these drastic measures because, in its words, "In virtually every area, and for every grade level, the system has failed to provide our children with a quality education and safe environment in which to learn."

As organizations and individuals committed to the reform and revitalization of the DCPS the problems in DCPS were all too well known to us.

It was our hope and understanding that the District of Columbia Fiscal and Management Authority's actions would at least address the fiscal and management shortcomings in the public school system. It is exceedingly difficult to educate children, but basic office and bureaucratic functions, like counting students and personnel, reporting expenditures, preparing budgets, procuring goods and services, responding to requests for information, communicating with local schools and the public _ these seemed manageable. Many school systems, even those with large numbers of students who are a challenge to engage in traditional schooling, are able to do these things well.

We have been stunned by the extent to which this new administration has failed first to understand, and then to address the fundamental management shortcomings of the public school system. What we have witnessed is rather than building institutional capacity, in the name of crisis and emergency, anything goes. We are here today to say NO to the crisis, emergency and siege mentality of this administration. These are still public buildings and they are public dollars and as Bonnie likes to point out, they are our children, your students.

The objective of this emergency administration should be to establish systems and processes that build capacity for a well-run school system. This administration coming in using emergency rules, read no rules, for achieving objectives, will leave the District far poorer, and without having addressed the fundamental cause of the dysfunction in the first place.

In school facilities management, which the 21st Century School Fund tracks comprehensively I, offer you the following indication that we are seeing the same fundamentally flawed management for which we are paying an even higher cost than we have before.

  • Even though there is considerable skepticism about the number of students reported in the school system, the DCPS has not significantly revised its method for counting students and has not contracted to do an independent census of its students to establish a credible base line.
  • The school systems long range master plan revealed an unwillingness, or inability to build on work already done, and a willingness to settle for lower quality rather than work with progress made before they arrived on the scene.

The insistence on proceeding with a plan even though it would cause the schools to remain closed for weeks into the school year indicated a complete disregard for the fundamental purpose of a school system – that of educating students.

Let me give you some information, which if you have been listening to the administration you would never know. I suggest, that the new administration does not even know this.

  • Before this new administration, during the period from 1987 through 1996, roofs on 70 schools had been replaced.
  • During the period from FY1991-FY1995, DCPS had $217 million worth of projects in planning, design or construction.

There were significant problems with the management of the capital program before and this administration is following the same path, only with more money.

  • The premium paid by DCPS for its emergency management was not $7.2 million. This is understated and unsubstantiated, the GAO is doing a fiscal audit which should address this directly. In the meantime, there some clear indications that the school system wasted closer to $15 million dollars.
  • DCPS determined to replace – not repair roofs. They spent $8.9 million replacing roofs on 13 schools that had had roof replacements within the last 9 years, according to DCPS records.
  • The average cost to replace the built up roofs was $19 per SF, before all change orders are in. Prince Georges County pays on average between $6-$8 per square foot for roof replacement on their old schools. This means DCPS paid between $6 to $7 million on just 17 of the roofs they replaced.

Okay, so we paid a lot, and the work was done outside of a public procurement process. Did we get good work??

We do not know the answer to this. It appears that DCPS does not know the answer to this either. One of the areas in the contract files consistently not addressed was evaluation. We are calling on the Control Board to undertake an engineering audit to determine whether or not the work done was acceptable.

We also urge the GAO to complete its fiscal audit of the capital program as soon as possible.

One can say these were exceptional times, it was early in the new administration, they made mistakes, it won't happen again. But it is clear from the FY 1998 estimates, that we are not out of the woods. The DCPS is estimating that it will spend $18 million to replace windows at 22 schools. This is an average cost of $800,000 per school. During FY1991-FY1995 when DCPS replaced windows in 15 schools the average cost for design and construction was $339,995. Included within these 15 schools were Cardozo and Wilson Senior High School 2 of the largest schools in the system. Even when you adjust for inflation, the DCPS is estimating window replacements at a rate 100% higher than even DCPS typically higher costs. The same is true for their estimates for boiler replacements. If the DCPS historic cost of boiler replacement is used, based on boiler replacements in 15 schools completed between FYl991 and FY1995, the average cost was $145,153. DCPS is estimating a cost to the public of an average of $650,000 for boiler replacement for FY1998.

The District of Columbia can not afford to do local government like disaster relief or the pentagon. We need to use processes and procedures which are subject to public scrutiny and oversight. The schools are public buildings and the dollars are public dollars. We need to stop this nonsense now.

Contact:
Mary Filardo
(202) 745 3745

Sarah Woodhead
(202) 832-3870

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Attachments

Table 1 from the report by Cotton & Company
Facilities Management section from the Moving Toward an Exemplary System report

Comparison of Number of Students Tested on Stanford 9, Spring 1997, and Official DCPS Membership 1996-97 SY

Official Membership 1996-97 78,648
Preschool (not tested) -1,105
Kinder (not tested) -7,469
7th grade (not tested) -4,875
9th grade (not tested) -4,951
12th grade (not tested) -3,042
NONGRADED (not tested) -3,581
Special ed students tested 2,688
100% of official membership to be tested 56,313
# of students actually tested -43,445
Difference (22.8%) 12,868
If absentee rate is 10% -5,631
Students unaccounted for 7,237

Sources: DCPS Official Membership, October 3, 1996
District of Columbia Public Schools, School-by-School Results for Spring 1997 on the Stanford 9 Achievement Test
Prepared by the 21st Century School Fund

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FY 1997 Roof Projects

Roof Information from DCPS Court Documents and DCPS Contracts Administration, Contract Status Report as of 10/9/97

School Built Last Repair on Roof DCPS Capital Budget DCPS Capital Budget Est. Total Roof Sq. Ft. Sq. Ft. of Roof Replaced Sq. Ft. 20Y Warranty % New Roof Price Cost per Sq. Ft. Contractor
Cleveland 1912 1978 FY98 $63,938 10,390 0 0 0% DCPS
Adams 1930 FY97 $159,600 20,880 960 960 5% $63,000 65.63 Beta Construction
Wilson 1935 1987 FY97 $1,140,000 96,005 14,743 14,743 15% $433,040 29.37 Napa Construction
MacFarland 1923 1988 FY97 $501,600 50,440 8.498 8.498 17% $727,000 85.55 Beta Construction
Winston 1976 FY98 $486,594 37,800 7,600 7,600 20% DCPS
Lafayette 1931 FY97 $771,880 53,825 12,248 12,248 23% $520,000 42.46 Beta Construction
Anacostia 1935 1990 FY97 $501,600 102,228 27,298 27,298 27% $468,750 17.17 North American Telecom
Jefferson 1940 FY97 $570,000 48,355 15,508 15,508 32% $544,000 35.08 Beta Construction
Young 1931 FY98 $136,733 59,615 26,894 26,894 45% $621,687 23.12 MTA Construction
Deal 1926 1987 FY97 $684,000 56,502 28.808 28,808 51% $1,150,000 39.92 Roofers Inc.
Spingarn 1941 1987 FY97 $957,600 59,943 31,625 31,625 53% $1,300,000 41.11 Roofers Inc.
Bunker Hill 1938 FY98 $339,630 26,752 14,352 14,352 54% $460,000 32.05 Beta Construction
Fletcher- Johnson 1977 1988 FY97 $2,074,800 90,052 52,482 52,482 58% $592,900 11.30 Turner Construction
Barnard 1926 1988 FY97 $427,500 36,007 20,997 20,997 58% $474,620 22.60 Roofers Inc.
Bell 1915 FY98 $462,300 17,870 10,620 10,620 59% $488,000 45.95 D. Gibson Restoration
Gage Eckington 1977 FY98 $462,913 34,317 20,789 20,789 61% $687,740 33.08 Roofers Inc.
Roosevelt 1932 FY97 $855,000 117,201 71,705 71,705 61% $1,921,000 26.79 Roof Depot of Va.
Green 1965 1983 FY97 $57,000 40,276 24,713 24,713 61% $617,500 24.99 U.S. Roofing
Shaed 1971 1984 FY97 $228,000 25,739 18.139 18,139 70% $395,000 21.78 Beta Construction
Maury 1890 1969 FY97 $330,600 24,420 24,220 17,220 71% $413,000 23.98 Beta Construction
Phelps 1934 1983 fy98 $739,200 79,708 62,962 62,962 79% $1,339,700 21.28 Urban Organization, Inc.
Browne 1931 1988 FY97 $342,000 76,079 61,335 61,335 81% $930,000 15.16 Urban Organization, Inc.
Park View 1916 1987 NO 33,394 28,354 28,354 85% $838,458 29.57 Roofers Inc.
M.M. Washington 1912 FY97 $433,200 24,345 20,725 20,725 85% $411,000 19.83 Beta Construction
Dunbar 1977 FY97 $798,000 92,124 84,632 84,632 92% $2,380,000 28.12 Beta Construction
J.F. Cook 1921 1988 FY97 $228,000 18.344 17,282 17,282 94% $646,432 37.40 Roofers Inc.
Bancroft 1924 1993 FY97 $312,533 20,400 19,300 19,300 95% $269,000 13.94 Napa Development
Ketcham 1909 FY97 $285,000 46,625 44,525 44,525 95% $189,000 4.24 Napa Development
Randle Highland 1912 1984 FY97 $285,000 26,131 25,623 25,623 98% $596,700 23.29 North American Telecom
Burrville 1980 FY97 $558,600 42,844 42,244 42,244 99% $1,088,000 25.76 North American Telecom
Birney 1950 1987 FY98 $342,000 22,019 21,803 21,803 99% $474,000 21.74 North American Telecom
Francis 1927 FY98 $864,125 53,300 53,000 53,000 99% $556,255 10.50 MTI Construction
Bruce Monroe 1973 no 41,141 40,985 40,985 100% $696,000 16.98 Beta Construction
Aiton 1960 1983 no 24,768 24,720 24,720 100% $540,000 21.84 U.S. Roofing
Beers 1942 1988 FY97 $57,000 32,550 32,550 32,550 100% $610,000 18.74 Beta Construction
Benning 1976 FY98 $474,240 34,414 34,414 34,414 100% $635,000 18/45 North American Telecom
Garfield 1868 FY97 $570,000 23.267 23.267 23.267 100% $670,000 28.80 Beta Construction
Ludlow Taylor 1969 FY97 $171,000 30,331 30,331 30,331 100% $525,851 17.34 Roofers Inc.
M.D. Lee 1971 FY97 $456,000 34,242 34,242 34,242 100% $909,000 26.55 Beta Construction
Merritt (GSA) 1976 FY97 $1,499,000 49,100 49,100 49,100 100% 0.00 GTC
Nalle (GSA) 1959 1970 FY97 $444,600 33,122 33,122 33,122 100% $269,000 8.12 Napa Development
Orr 1974 FY97 $912,000 39,724 39,724 39,724 100% $488,300 12.29 North American Telecom
Ross 1896 NO 5,000 5,000 5,000 100% $119,069 23.81 D. Gibson Restoration
Shadd (GSA) 1955 1988 FY97 $342,000 31,100 31,100 31,100 100% 0.00 GSA
Sharpe Healt 1959 ` FY97 $148,200 42,400 42,400 42,400 100% 0.00 GSA?
Stuart Hobson 1927 FY97 $570,000 41.031 41,031 41,031 100% $637,000 23.56 Roofers Inc.
Truesdell 1908 FY98 $143,655 29,623 29,623 29,623 100% $697,810 15.52 Beta Construction
Tyler (GSA) 1949 1980 FY97 $160,000 17,500 17,500 17,500 100% $221,000 12.63 ESI (Phase 1)
GSA Various Roofs A, 3 roofs $1,098,687
GSA Various Roofs, 6 roofs $3,963,240
TOTAL $22,282,703 2,042,853 1,423,093 1,416,093 75% $33,675,739 23.78

Prepared by the 21st Century School Fund, 12/2/97

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1/20/98

Action Alert! Action Alert! Action Alert!

Parents of DC Public School Students

Our school workers have not had a raise in 7 1/2 years. DCPS custodians, cafeteria workers, building engineers, school bus drivers and warehouse workers of Teamster locals 639 and 730 were promised pay raises in the 1990-93 and 1993-96 contracts. Principals and teachers had a modest raise, but not our school workers. They lost wages during furloughs, hours have been cut back and fellow worker shortages have increased their work. They have had enough!!

Help avoid a crisis by telling the District to resolve this dispute now. Right before Christmas DCPS paid a small part of what they owe, but unless they resolve this dispute, DCPS custodians, cafeteria workers, building engineers, school bus drivers and warehouse workers of Teamster locals 639 and 730 will strike February 1. Without heat, food service, custodial work and transportation for special education students, schools will be forced to close.

Support our school workers. The support staff in in the local schools is vital to the education of our children; their efforts have a constant and crucial impact on the quality of life within every school in the District, all day, every day. Along with our teachers and principals, their constant efforts directly affect the learning environment of every classroom in DC. If the front line work force is neglected, abused or mistreated, no amount of management will make this city or our schools work.

CALL TODAY and tell our city leaders to resolve this dispute and keep our schools open.

Mr. Andrew Brimmer
Chairman of the Control Board
(202) 504-3400
(202) 504-3431 Fax
General Julius Becton
CEO/Superintendent DCPS
(202) 724-4222
(202) 724-8855 Fax
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Delegate for the District of Columbia
U.S. Congress
(202) 225-8050
(202) 225-3002 Fax
Anthony Williams
Chief Financial Officer
District of Columbia Government
(202) 727-2476
(202) 737-5258 Fax

Our children cannot afford to miss even one more day of education.

21st Century School Fund (202) 745-3745; Parents and Communities for Public Education (PACE) (202) 526-2494: Project Voice (202) 783-2727; Ad Hoc Parents Coalition (202) 362-8866; Parents United for DCPS 833-4766.