DC Students Succeeds coalition sends letter to elected officials urging increased equitable investments in public schools in FY2023
Washington, D.C. (March 8, 2022) — DC Students Succeeds, a coalition of more than 30 DC education, health, and community organizations, today called on Mayor Muriel Bowser, Chairman Phil Mendelson, and Members of the DC Council to prioritize DC students, families, and schools in the Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
“Our students have faced a pandemic, disrupted learning, mental health challenges, social isolation, and an upheaval of their childhood. Despite these challenges, DC students and families have persevered. Now we must move from persevering to thriving,” said Zakiya Sackor, Executive Director of Kindred. “To fully and equitably thrive, our students need us to provide adequate resources and make smart policy choices now and in the years ahead.”
DC Students Succeeds urges District leaders to maintain and build on Mayor Bowser’s 5.9% UPSFF increase; fully fund the “At-Risk” weight at .37; create new financial supports and incentives for educators to work and live in DC; and provide at least $25 million in recurring, local funding for OST programs.
Among the priorities:
- Fully fund the “At-Risk” weight at .37 and commit to conducting a new adequacy study every five years. We are nearly a decade removed from the last adequacy study. Since the release of the 2013 study, the District has made major investments in its public schools, yet the “At-Risk” funding weight remains well below the level called for by the study’s experts. The authors of this adequacy study and stakeholders they agree — students furthest from opportunity need and deserve additional resources.
- Rename and redefine the “At-Risk” funding weight. The District’s “at-risk” funding weight is an important tool for equity, but it is overdue for improvement. The term “at-risk” is pejorative, inaccurate, and inadequate. The point of the funding weight is to provide additional funds in support of educational equity: changing its name to the Equity weight would be fitting of our collective intentions. The existing scope of students eligible for the funding weight is too narrow. Undcoumented students, adult learners, students with federal 504 plans, children living at home but involved with CFSA, children of incarcerated individuals, and other learners who require additional support are not deemed eligible under the existing definition. LEaders should broaden the scope of this weight so that more of the students who need additional resources may access them.
- Create a citywide welcome center for immigrant students. OSSE should establish a citywide, cross-sector welcome center tasked with ensuring that new-to-the-country families have the information they need to find the school and services that meet the unique needs of their students.
- Attract, support, and retain diverse and effective teachers. To address affordability challenges, leaders should provide benefits to address student loan debt of educators with a local tax benefit for employers supplemental to the federal benefit and provide public schools with additional grants to cover this benefit; and create housing affordability programs that are available to all public school educators with a Public Educator Housing Assistance Program.
- Increase funding for out of school time programs. The Mayor and Council should provide at least $25 million in recurring, local funding for OST programs and expand access to financial aid/vouchers for OST. Providing this funding will ensure that all students are able to access academic and social enrichment, mentorships, career programming, and dual enrollment programming — throughout the day and year, including in before-care, after-care, winter break, and summer break.
Read the full coalition letter.