Make your voice heard, FY16 Budget Hearings, PCSB Hearings

Friends -

I want to thank everyone in the Ward 6 community for helping to support our schools during this year’s budget season. As I wrote last week, I was extremely disappointed to learn that the city’s FY14 budget pushed the already delayed renovations of Eliot-Hine MS and Jefferson Academy MS long into the future. I didn’t note in my message, but have noted in my conversations with our city council members, that the budget also cuts or delays needed capital investments at Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan, School within a School @ Goding, Tyler ES, JO Wilson ES and several other communities. The budget also fails to plan for a promised new middle school for the Shaw community. In total over $80m in funding will be removed from the Ward 6 capital budget over the next five years.

I am sympathetic to the limitations in the capital budget and respect the Mayor’s efforts to ensure that the city is being honest and not making promises that cannot be fulfilled. But, I also believe that there needs to be a public process before decisions of this magnitude are made and am especially concerned that these decisions were announced after families had to make choices about their educational paths through the My DC School Lottery.

I recognize that capital improvements are only one element of building successful schools. Our schools also need strong academic programming and thriving community support – elements that we see across Ward 6. I will continue to advocate strongly for our schools to receive promised and much needed capital improvements and encourage you to do the same. Together, we can ensure that Ward 6 has school facilities that meet the needs of our children and that reflect the outstanding work that teachers and school leaders do on a daily basis.

Please let our city council members know your thoughts. I encourage you to contact Chairman Phil Mendelson as well as the members of the Education Committee (especially Chairman David Grosso and Anita Bonds). I have worked closely with Councilmember Charles Allen over these past few weeks and thank him for his work on our behalf of our community's schools.

I also invite you to join me in testifying before the Council’s Education Committee on Thursday, April 23. You can sign-up to speak at either 10:00 AM or 5:30 PM. A large contingent of parents plan to stop by the hearing shortly before it begins at 10:00 AM. Click here for details on the hearing and to sign-up to speak.

 

Washington Global PCS & New Charter School Applications

In two weeks, the Public Charter School Board (PCSB) will be holding two public hearings:

Monday, April 20 at 6:00 PM, the PCSB will holding a public hearing for these charter applications. The hearing will take place at Paul PCS, 5800 8th Street NW.

Tuesday, April 21 at 6:30 PM, the PCSB will be holding a hearing during their regularly scheduled board meeting on Washington Global Public Charter School’s intent to locate its facility to 525 School Street, SW. This meeting is scheduled for the PCSB offices at 3333 14th Street NW, Suite 210.

I encourage everyone who speaks at these hearings to encourage the public charter school board to work more closely with our city's other education leaders and to ensure a more open and transparent process for the approval and locating of our public charter schools. We must recognize that both DCPS and public charter schools are public schools and serve our children; that each decision either school system makes will have an impact on other school communities. We must work collaboratively to ensure that no child is harmed by the decisions of adults.

As you may know, Washington Global PCS was approved to open by the PCSB in May 2014. I have met with their leadership, and while I believe the city lacks a plan to minimize the impact of opening Washington Global PCS on Jefferson Academy MS, I do believe Washington Global PCS will be good neighbors, invest in our community and provide a great school option for public school families from Ward 6 and across the city. 

My concern with the opening of a new middle school on the SW waterfront relates to process. Washington Global PCS stated a desire on its application for a license to operate a desire to locate in Wards 4, 5, 7 or 8. After being unable to find a suitable location Washington Global PCS identified space and is planning to open this fall in Ward 6 near L’Enfant Plaza. While I share the concerns of the public charter community about the inability to locate adequate spaces for schools throughout the city, this does not eliminate the need to have a public process that includes meaningful public input before a school location is selected. Because Washington Global PCS’s application did not include Ward 6 as a site for the location of the school, our community did not actively weigh-in during the approval process. Further, once a potential site is identified, the local ANC should be involved in the process to discuss impacts relating to traffic, the creation of safe routes to schools and other community issues.

I’ve encouraged Washington Global PCS Leadership to meet with neighborhood school and community leaders and to engage the ANC. I look forward to helping them ensure their opening in the fall is successful.

Thank you for your support.  

Have a great Spring Break.

joe

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