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Phil Mendelson proposes $24 million more for individual DCPS schools, plus at-risk boost
The council will take the first of multiple votes at 3:30 pm
At 3:30 pm today (Thursday), the DC Council’s Committee of the Whole will meet to review budgets for agencies overseen by Chairman Phil Mendelson. Among other proposals in his committee report is $23.9 million for individual schools that faced cuts prohibited by the Schools First in Budgeting Act, and further increases to at-risk funding for schools with high numbers of at-risk students.
What you are probably really wanting to know is how much your school would get under this proposal! You can see that by looking at this spreadsheet.
(Note: the DC budgeting system still uses some old names for some schools, like New North MS which was the placeholder name for what is now Ida B. Wells, or Aiton which was renamed to Whitlock.)
The “Net Schools First” column says how much each school would get to meet Schools First (in the council budget office’s and/or Mendelson’s opinion). There is also a column for at-risk changes (see below).
Schools whose proposed budgets complied with Schools First (in the opinion of those who created this report, at least) and don’t get further at-risk concentration funds won’t appear in this spreadsheet, such as Bancroft, Hardy, or Jackson-Reed. (See below for more on that.)
At-risk concentration funding gets an increase
According to the committee report, they are making at least two changes to at-risk funding. Under DC law, DCPS or charter schools get a certain amount of funding per student and per at-risk student (students on public assistance, in foster care, experiencing homelessness, or over age high schoolers). Schools with more than 40% at-risk get even more funding, and over 70% get even more.
According to the committee report, “The Committee discovered the mayor’s budget underfunded the at-risk concentration supplement by $1.5 million dollars, which impacts charter school budgets in addition to DCPS.” Mendelson also is proposing to increase this at-risk concentration even more, adding about $9.7 million to education across both DCPS and charter schools.
I believe that the net effect of those two changes, for specific DCPS schools, makes up what’s in the At-Risk column in the spreadsheet.
The committee (which is all 13 members of the council) will debate and vote on this at 3:30 pm and could make changes. Then, this report plus the report from every other committee, will then be combined into final budget legislation.
The council will vote on (and possibly amend) the budget on May 16 and again on May 30. Therefore, schools won’t know for absolute sure what funds they are getting until the end of May. Until then, they can’t start hiring for any new positions, or restore jobs for people who had to be cut.
My school doesn’t get any more money. Is that bad?
Mostly, that means your school probably did fairly well in the budget cycle so far, either in the initial budget or maybe the later “budget assistance,” where principals and LSATs make a case for more money and some get it. (If your school had cuts and you still didn’t get helped here, please let me know and I can look into it!)
Also, schools may have still faced cuts again next year. The DCPS budget model calculates a supposedly “correct” funding level for each school; if a school gets more in budget assistance, that doesn’t change what the budget model “thinks” it should get, and so that school might see the extra funding taken away in the future.
Schools First still allows that under some circumstances but uses a school’s previous budget as a baseline instead of this computation from scratch each year. So if Schools First doesn’t change, schools would have more confidence what they get this year (either from budget assistance or the council or whatever).
How does this compare to my school’s budget? Is all our funding restored?
If I have time I’ll combine this information with schools’ current year and previously proposed budgets in one sheet. Meanwhile, though, you can still view any school’s previous budget cuts or increases through this tool.
Take whatever cut or increase the school had, then add the amount from the new spreadsheet to understand what the school may end up with on net.
Note that some schools which weren’t facing cuts still are getting more funding, if the council’s analysis concluded that Schools First entitles them to even more, such as if their at-risk, English language learner, or special education populations increased.
Where is this money coming from?
The at-risk concentration funding is coming from the general budget, I believe. The Schools First funding and a little more is coming from the central office budget.
The budget spreadsheets don’t appear (unless I’m misreading them) to be cutting staff at the central office. Rather, it’s “removing vacant positions within Central Office” or reducing non-personnel spending (NPS), either “to align with historical activity” or “based on commensurate increase in ESSER III funding for same budget activity” (federal funds DCPS can use).
We’ll presumably hear from the administration soon about whether they claim these cuts will have a harmful impact. And, I’ll continue to dig into these numbers as well as updating you if the council changes the amounts further.