Fall Update: PARCC, Residency Verification, Facilities & More…

I hope that everyone has had a great start to the 2016-17 school year. As we’ve kicked off the new school year, the State Board has been hard at work. We’ve begun our work to bring the District into line with new federal accountability rules under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). I’ve also renewed my call for the Deputy Mayor of Education to come to #Ward6 to explain how the District’s School Facilities Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) was developed and to engage our community in developing a vision and priorities for our schools. I’ve also raised issues with the DC School Lottery about ways to promote enrollment stability. And, the Board is also working with OSSE to update the District’s residency verification procedures and requirements.

Please let me know if you have any question and please MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD on these on other important issues.

PARCC

books.PNGLooking for info on how your school did on the PARCC tests? Check out OSSE's new data tools or visit results.osse.dc.gov.

While the District did see growth across the board and a number of our #Ward6 schools saw continued growth, there remain persistent and troublesome gaps. As a city, we need to have a robust discussion on what works and invest in those strategies to bring dramatic improvement to our schools.

 

School Modernization

Hearing Notice:  Thursday, October 6, 2016 @ 11:30AM

The Committee on Transportation and the Environment and The Committee on Education will hold a Public Hearing on the “Summer Modernizations of District of Columbia Public Schools” and B21-831, the "Childhood Lead Prevention Amendment Act of 2016." Anyone wishing to testify should contact Ms. Aukima Benjamin, staff assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, at (202) 724-8062 or via e-mail at abenjamin@dccouncil.us.

Please stop by or send, via email, your comments on these two important issues. While this hearing focuses exclusively on the work done this summer, this is a part of the larger school modernization issues our city faces and I encourage you to join me in asking Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles to come to #Ward6 to explain how the District’s Capital Improvement Plan was developed and to engage our community in developing priorities.

My concerns with facilities in #Ward6 relate to the lack of community engagement in developing priorities and a lack of clarity in the scope of multiple different projects. In May, Deputy Mayor Niles joined the State Board of Education to discuss facilities. During that conversation, Deputy Mayor Niles stated that the District’s School Facilities Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) was developed with robust community involvement and promised to provide details on the process to the Board. She has yet to follow-up and has indicated to the Board that a response to our questions about school modernization will not be forthcoming. You can see a clip of the DME at the May 18th State Board of Education meeting discussing this here.

SWS_Thermometer.PNGWe do not have unlimited budgets and we will need to make difficult choices as we prioritize school modernizations. The process has lacked clarity and a clear understanding of those trade-offs. As alarming, project scopes continue to change and the process lacks transparency. At Maury ES the project is characterized in various places as a full modernization, in others as an expansion (which would not include renovations for any ‘common areas’ within the school). The future enrollment of Maury has grown to well over 500 students, making Maury one of the largest schools in the Ward while current plans underfund the project and do not take into account the limited outdoor space available for students. At Eliot-Hine MS rumors continue to circulate, but DCPS has yet to confirm, that the proposed budget includes the construction of “permanent” swing-space. Other projects such as SWS @ Goding are years out, yet basic systems have not worked this school year resulting in classroom temperatures over 90 degrees on many days. Work needed to support the learning environments at Jefferson Academy MS and CHM@L is years out; Shaw MS isn’t even in the planning stages.

My priority is to ensure that our community is engaged in determining priorities and that all students are in classrooms that meet their basic needs, as outlined in the DC Schools Master Facilities Plan 2008 for critical issues such as air quality, acoustics, lighting, and other environmental standards.

 

Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) for Residency Verification and Investigation

Earlier this month, OSSE released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Residency Verification & Investigation. I’m concerned that the proposal doesn’t go far enough to eliminate residency fraud, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. The Board will be working with OSSE over the coming months to finalize this proposal and I encourage you to submit your comments to OSSE and send them directly to me <joe.weedon@dc.gov>. I look forward to a spirited conversation with OSSE about this proposal and the ways that it can be strengthened.

 

Chancellor Search

What are you looking for in the next DC Public Schools Chancellor? Let the DME know!

 

Every Day Counts! Attendance Campaign

SBOE_logo.PNGThe State Board of Education (SBOE) and Deputy Mayor for Education’s jointly announced a new campaign to promote school attendance earlier this month.

It's no secret that I've been disappointed in policy and legal changes in our city over the past year that changed reporting criteria for schools. EVERY DAY is important.  We must end the practices of students being 'asked' to not go to school the last week and we must intervene when we see warning signs around attendance. It's time we change the culture around attendance and support our students.

 

Washington Post highlights needs in our schools

socks.PNGMy thanks to Petula Dvorak for bringing the issues that face our homeless students to the forefront of the conversation. I’m continually amazed by the impact that one person can have on our schools and our students. Thanks to everyone who donated clothing or school supplies to help ensure our students can focus on learning. There is more to do. If you'd like to help, reach out and I'll connect you to the school leaders who can help you make a difference.

And, please remember to register your loyalty cards and when you shop on-line to use Amazon Smile and select one of our #Ward6 schools to support.

 

Almost the entire D.C. school district is ignoring its PE requirements

While the District has some of the most ambitious Health and PE requirements in the nation, just 10 of the District’s more than 200 public and public charter schools meet the physical education standard, according to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), the body that oversees D.C. schools. We can do better. I understand the challenges and trade-offs that implementing this law will require, but we must ask ourselves what type of example it sets for our students when our schools selectively ignore the law.

 

Health & School Nurses

At a Ward 4 Education Alliance meeting on September 14, Dr. Schumacher of DCPS confirmed a rumor that schools will no longer have a minimum of one nurse per school but instead will have a minimum of 1/2 nurse per school as part of a larger initiative to increase coordination of care with physicians and community health organizations.  It was stated that these changes were intended to be implemented by January 2017.  I’ve also heard multiple reports that many students have failed to submit required health forms. Again, we can do better. If we are to change staffing at our schools, it should only be done after appropriately informing the community and gathering input from our families. We also must ensure that all students submit required paperwork to ensure that our students and schools are healthy.

 

Thank you for your support!

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