Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser officially unveiled her budget proposal for fiscal year 2024, which includes a 5.05 percent increase in per-student funding for DC schools.
Students in DC deserve access to quality education, but increasing costs and decreasing federal funding are putting that at risk. While we are still digging into the details, the proposed increase in the universal per-student funding formula is a strong starting point for the annual budget process and the DC Students Succeed Coalition applauds Mayor Bowser for her continued commitment to providing greater investments in DC’s students.
We urge the DC Council to build on the mayor’s proposal and expand these investments to provide schools, educators, and families the resources they need to support students through the recovery and into the future.
DC must get the increase in school funding as close as possible to at least the rate of inflation, with greater increases for funding weights that target students who need more support. Ten years after the last adequacy study, the District has yet to meet its targets for funding the At-Risk weight. As we consider the new iteration of the adequacy study, we should ensure we are at a minimum moving toward adequacy for our students now.
Additionally, the coalition is excited to see the mayor include the following which align with DCSS coalition priorities:
- Maintains funding for critical school-based mental health programs.
- $400K for a P-20 data system to measure and utilize information on student college and career readiness and outcomes. This information will provide valuable insight into how best to support students and help them succeed.
- Makes an effort to increase pay for all of DC’s educators, though we hope to better understand how cross-sector budget equity is impacted by the funding of this and other programs outside of the per-student funding formula.
- Invests in safe, healthy learning environments for all students by increasing the charter facilities allotment by 3.1 percent.
- Provides $5 million to create a My Afterschool DC portal to help families navigate all out-of-school time opportunities.
This budget is not without concerns. Our coalition believes all public school students should receive the funding that they are entitled to, regardless of what school they are enrolled in. All annual and supplemental schools funding should flow through the per-student formula to both sectors to accomplish this goal. Examining this budget, we have questions about instances where this is not the case and what impact that could have on students.
The coalition and its members look forward to continuing our work with DC’s elected leaders over the coming months to finalize a budget for the next fiscal year that makes the investments necessary to help DC students succeed.