Mayor Bowser Should Put DC Students Ahead of Tax Cuts
Every child deserves a good education. It’s a sound investment in the promise of individual students and in the future of our community. DC Public Schools and public charters need more funding to better serve their students, according to a report released in January from an expert working group convened by the Office of State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Mayor Bowser should follow the report’s recommendation—a 3.5 percent increase in per-pupil funding—and she should delay some or all of the scheduled tax cuts if that is needed to adequately support schools.
DC schools will need more funding next year simply because of rising student enrollment in both DCPS and public charter schools. That’s a good thing, a sign of DC’s growing population and increased trust in DC schools!
But DC schools also need more money to serve each student well. The current school funding formula is 15 percent below what the latest ‘Adequacy Study’ determined is necessary to ensure schools can meet high standards, and equip students with the skills to succeed in life.
The recommended 3.5 percent increase in per-pupil funding—the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula—would bring school funding closer to an adequate level and meet important goals in both DCPS and public charter schools.
DC Public Schools: This year, nearly half of the dedicated ‘at-risk funding’ in DCPS is going to pay for core functions, like science supplies or athletics coordinators, instead of driving new, targeted resources towards those students most at risk of falling behind academically, like afterschool programs and evening credit recovery. Forcing schools to resolve budget pressures and meet basic needs by tapping the funds intended to serve the most vulnerable students is not a sustainable solution. Increasing base funding for all schools will help ensure at-risk funds can serve their intended purpose.
Public Charter Schools: Increasing the base rate of the school funding formula would help public charter schools that lost out when summer school funding was eliminated in 2014. Charter schools got new at-risk funds, like DCPS, but many charters had to use the new funds to replace lost summer school funds
Raising the base rate of the Uniform Per Student Formula Funding is the surest way to invest in all DC students, and give both DCPS and public charters the flexibility they need to meet the particular challenges they face. That’s why we urge Mayor Bowser to follow the recommendations of the OSSE working group and increase per-pupil funding 3.5 percent.
Every year counts in a student’s education. The District is financially thriving, and yet our most vulnerable students aren’t getting the resources we have promised. This is a question of choices, not resources. Mayor Bowser and the Council can choose to #UntieDC from its current fiscally restrictive policies that put tax cuts ahead of schools. Pausing the tax cuts would put students ahead of tax cuts and help them get the education they deserve.
 The current base rate of the Uniform Per Student Formula Funding ($9,682) would need to increase 15 percent to reach the Adequacy Study level, adjusted for inflation in fiscal year 2018 dollars ($11,174)
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