ESSA, Residency, New Chancellor, Charter School Rankings & Modernizations

As we near the end of 2016, I want to thank everyone for their input into the work the State Board of Education is doing to develop a new accountability system for our schools under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and highlight some important decisions that will be made in the coming weeks.

First, I want to thank everyone who provided testimony at the State Board of Education’s November 16 public meeting. The Board heard
loud and clear that the community wants to see our city look beyond test scores as we evaluate our schools under the new ESSA regulations. We look forward to working with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in updating the draft proposal to include more emphasis on individual student growth, a survey of school climate and culture, and other performance measures (in-seat attendance, re-enrollment, etc).

It’s not too late to make your voice heard. Email me at with your thoughts.

There are also a number of other education topics of interest happening in our community.


Residency Verification

The State Board, at our November public meeting, also voted to approve OSSE’s promulgation of new regulations for residency verification. The regulations are designed to clarify the policies and procedures required to ensure District residents have access to available space at local schools. They provide clear definitions for how to establish residency and custody while ensuring that vulnerable populations are protected. I look forward to approval of the final regulations later in the spring and working with the City Council in the spring to update the documents that can be utilized to prove residency.


Updates from DCPS

Last week, Mayor Muriel Bowser named Antwan Wilson as the new Chancellor of DC Public Schools, effective February 1, 2017. You can read the Mayor’s announcement here and coverage from the Washington Post here and here. I look forward to meeting with Chancellor –designee Wilson and discussing his vision for our #Ward6 schools.

Councilmember David Grosso and the Committee on Education will hold a series of public roundtables on the nomination of Mr. Wilson. 
They will be held:
  • Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 5:00pm - Brookland Middle School - 1150 Michigan Ave NE
  • Monday, December 5, 2016 - 5:00pm - Benning Neighborhood Library - 3935 Benning Road NE
  • Thursday, December 8, 2016 - 10:00am - John A. Wilson Building - 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

For details or to sign-up to speak, click here

DCPS held their annual Budget Hearing today at Kelly Miller MS to gather feedback about the upcoming Fiscal Year 2018 budget. This is the first of many opportunities for school communities to learn about DCPS’ priorities for the coming year and make your voices heard.

Updates from DC Public Charter School Board

The Public Charter School Board released its rankings of the best performing public charter schools. You can see coverage of the release here.


School Modernization -- Maury ES Expansion

Our school facilities impact academic achievement. My first priority – a priority that I’ve heard again and again from residents from across #Ward6 – is to ensure that ALL students are in facilities that meet basic standards for air and water quality, lighting, acoustics, heating and related factors that directly impact student health and learning. I also believe that the community should be involved in establishing needs and priorities for our schools and our wider school communities.  In a system fraught with mistrust and overspending, we deserve no less.

Maury Site PlansIn recent weeks, the Maury ES SIT has heard from DCPS about the school’s planned expansion. Currently, DCPS is considering two options for the expansion, creating a school that could serve either 457 or 539 students (details are available here). If DCPS selects the larger capacity option, the addition will severely limit outdoor space, creating crowding and unsafe conditions. If DCPS selects the option with the smaller capacity, Maury’s matter-of-right population will soon exceed the capacity requiring either the creation of a cluster, likely with Miner ES, or changes to Maury’s recently expanded boundary. DCPS informed the Maury community earlier this month that a decision would be made by the end of the year. As of today, no public meetings or conversations with the community have occurred and I once again call for DCPS leadership to meet with the Maury and surrounding community BEFORE a decision is made.

Among the questions that we have to ask ourselves is why are we expanding a school (Maury) when another school located just blocks away (Miner) is under enrolled (a 2015-2016 enrollment of 398 students in a building with a 550 student capacity)? This question is especially relevant when other neighborhood schools lack not just modern amenities, like science labs, that we should expect in all our schools but also basics like windows that open and functioning AC/Heating units.

Ultimately, this decision will not be made by the State Board of Education nor will the Board have any role in the decision-making. However, I urge our community to consider how we can best serve our entire community, ensuring that all students receive the best possible education in a warm, welcoming and diverse environment.


Additional Modernization / Facility Updates

The Eliot-Hine School Improvement Team (SIT) will be meeting on November 30th, 2016 in the school’s Media Center. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:00 PM.

DCPS is soliciting nominations to serve on the Eliot-Hine SIT.  The SIT committee members participate in the development of the school education specifications and schematic design and assist with disseminate information about the progress of the school improvement to their peers and constituencies represented on the School Improvement Team. You can learn more here or apply to serve here. I hope to see each of Eliot-Hine’s feeder schools have a seat at the table for this project.


Outstanding Work Orders

I want to give my Thanks to Councilmember Allen for pushing DGS and DCPS to provide updates on outstanding modernization and work orders. Nearly every school in Ward 6 is affected in some way by the list of delayed modernization and stabilization projects as well as general repair work orders. These delays have a considerable impact on the achievement of our students and I applaud CM Allen for his work in ensuring that long-outstanding work orders are closed and that updates are provided to our community.


Thanks for your support.

Joe Weedon

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