Wilson HS budget cut update (7/17)

Despite DC council vote to increase school funding and relieve staff cuts…

Wilson HS still faces large staff cuts, with no apparent plan to restore them

Email Mayor eom@dc.gov, Deputy Mayor for education dme@dc.gov, about unrelenting staff cuts at Wilson. cc:ruth4schools@yahoo.com.  Details below; scroll down for City Council addresses.

Also, scroll down for information on: new ESSA Task force; Chancellor Wilson on Social-emotional learning; survey for Wilson feeder school families on space/overcrowding; DC’s extremely high teacher turn-over rates are much higher than in other urban districts.

Last spring, the Mayor proposed a city budget that dramatically underfunded the city’s schools  As a result of the underfunding, DC Public Schools (DCPS) cut the 2017-18 budgets of schools across the city.
The cuts sparked huge opposition, with many people on this list emailing, calling, and visiting their City Council members. The DC Council scraped funds from other parts of the budget and voted to increase per-student funding by 3%–compared to the Mayor’s inadequate, below-inflation increase of 2%.
Moreover, the Council explicitly stated in its budget report (p5) that “the Council expects the additional funds at DCPS to be used for restoring instructional staff and programs at schools.”

Despite these efforts, it appears DCPS will not restore staff at Wilson HS 

The chancellor has emailed Bethany Nickerson, the chair of Wilson’s Local School Advisory Team (LSAT), writing that he believes “Wilson is positioned well for School Year 2017-18” and that the additional funds will be targeted instead to a variety of DCPS initiatives.

Wilson has lost 30+ positions in 3 years, despite stable enrollment

In fact, Wilson is not well positioned.  It has lost over 30 positions in 3 years, with no significant decline in enrollment (see below).  And, the council was clear: The extra funding was intended to allow schools to restore staff and programs that had been cut.

Councilwoman Cheh calls for explanation

Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh has written the Chancellor and Deputy Mayor for Education, noting that “Wilson has been regularly subjected to drastic budget cuts…. and has had “to cut nearly 30 staff members over 3 years…. Today, with an additional $11.5 million available and an obvious need at Wilson for additional financial support, it would be unacceptable for Wilson to yet again be denied the funding it needs to succeed.”

Please add your voice; email the Mayor

Unlike in most of the country, DC schools are under mayoral control. It’s important for her to understand the issues.

Please write the Mayor and tell her the relentless cutting of Wilson staff–30+ over 3 years–is not fair.  It will hurt a school that so many have worked so hard to improve over the years–a school that serves students from every ward.  It serves over 400 students classified as “at-risk,” roughly the same or more at risk students than all but 4 DCPS schools.  See enrollment and staffing details below

Please email:

1.  Mayor Bowser, eom@dc.gov;
Dep. Mayor for Education Niles, dme@dc.gov.
2. Would love if you copied me:  ruth4schools@yahoo.com
3. Consider copying your city council person as well, so that they are fully aware of how their wishes are being ignored. Here is a list of council members:
abonds@dccouncil.us, At-large
dgrosso@dccouncil.us At-large
esilverman@dccouncil.us At-large
rwhite@dccouncil.us At large
bnadeau@dccouncil.us Ward 1
jevans@dccouncil.us Ward 2
btodd@dccouncil.us Ward 4
kmcduffie@dccouncil.us Ward 5
callen@dccouncil.us, Ward 6
twhite@dccouncil.us, Ward 8
pmendelson@dccouncil.us, Chairman


Enrollment and staffing details

Wilson has lost over 30 staff in 3 years, despite stable enrollment

It is unclear what is driving these cuts.  Sometimes officials with DC Public Schools or the Mayor’s office have argued that the staff cuts are due to enrollment cuts. But over these same three years, Wilson’s enrollment has remained essentially stable Enrollment in 2014-15 was 1788.  Enrollment on “audit” day this past October, 2016, was 1749.  Actual enrollment this past April 20 was 1806.  DCPS’s official projected enrollment for next year (almost surely underestimated) is 1745. Many parents believe, based on the large class coming in from Deal, that Wilson’s actual enrollment next year is likely to exceed 1800.
Regardless of which numbers you use, enrollment has declined by 43 at most, or has increased, using this spring’s actual enrollment, by 18.  The fact is: Wilson has lost nearly a full staff person or more for each 1-student decline in enrollment. 

Proj 17/18
Lost staff
-12 staff fr 14/15 to 15/16
– 9 staff fr 15/16-16/17
– 10 staff fr 16/17-17/18
  Enrollment #s from OSSE

Thanks for lending your voice!


Apply for new Task Force on ESSA
Apply here.  Deadline Monday, July 24, at noon. As readers of this newsletter know, this spring the DC State Board of Education adopted a new plan for judging the quality of DC’s public schools.  But the new plan is intended to be a first strong step towards a better accountability system, not the final word.  The SBOE is convening a public task force to advise it on further improvement and changes.
Chancellor discusses the need for Social/Emotional Learning
DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson is developing his first strategic plan for DC Public Schools.  He is a strong advocate of social/emotional learning.  He explains his ideas on this important educational approach and how he hopes to bring it to DC in this story for the Hechinger Report.  I look forward to supporting this initiative (but, yes, implementation requires adequate staffing!)

Wilson Feeder School Families: complete the survey on school space/overcrowding

If you haven’t yet filled out a survey on the space/overcrowding challenges faced by your school, please click here and get your survey in to DCPS.  These surveys are helping DCPS and a community Task Force (made up of parents and principals from each Wilson feeder school, the chair of the W3/Wilson Feeder Education Network, a representative from CM Mary Cheh’s office, and me) develop recommendations for alleviating the current and future overcrowding that our schools face.

DC’s extremely high teacher turn-over rate is much higher than in other urban areas. Find out more: 

Hear teachers/researchers discuss the causes, implications for student achievement and solutions for this crisis-level issue.  From testimony  at the DC State Board of Education meeting, July 19. Click here:

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