Show Us the Money: DCPS Needs to Clearly Identify Cost Savings Before Closing DC Public Schools

November 20th, 2012 | by Soumya Bhat

Last night, the DC Council concluded its second round of public oversight hearings on Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s plan to close 20 public schools across the District. DCFPI was one of more than 100 public witnesses signed up to testify before the Council about the issue. Final decisions about school closings are expected to be made by the Chancellor and Mayor Gray around mid-January. 

Much of the hearing focused on the cost ineffectiveness of operating small, under-enrolled DCPS schools, many of which appear on the closure list. Currently, schools that are under-enrolled are often subsidized, or offered additional funding beyond what they are initially allocated in the school budget, to help them have adequate staffing during the school year. However, DCPS has not yet quantified what it expects to save in total from school closures or what the transition costs may be. Without that information, it is hard to assess whether school closures make financial sense. 

Yesterday, the Chancellor alluded to some savings that could provide for additional staffing positions in newly consolidated schools. She said, on average, a school receiving students from a closed school could expect to be able to afford a full-time librarian and five additional teachers. The Chancellor cited a potential $20 million in savings across the school system if DCPS no longer has to subsidize 20 small schools in this way. 

DCFPI urges the Chancellor to clearly identify what cost savings may be seen by closing these 20 schools. After those numbers are released there should be a public discussion if this amount is enough to justify closure, particularly if some schools are located in areas where there may be a population boom in school-age children only a few years down the road. If savings are seen, DCPS should also be transparent about how the funds will be used to support individual schools or the overall system. This will give residents a better understanding of how school closure savings will translate into greater academic investments. You can read the entire testimony from DCFPI here.

If you were not able to testify, there will still be opportunities to offer feedback. DCPS will be holding community meetings to discuss the proposed closures in the following wards starting next week:





Ward 8 Community Dialogue

Savoy ES

2400 Shannon Place, SE

November 27

6-8 pm

Ward 7 Community Dialogue

Sousa MS

3650 Ely Place, SE

November 28

6-8 pm

Ward 5 Community Dialogue

Langley EC

101 T Street, NE

November 29

6-8 pm

Wards 1-4 and 6

Community Dialogue

Brightwood EC

1300 Nicholson Street, NW

December 5

6-8 pm



2 Responses to “Show Us the Money: DCPS Needs to Clearly Identify Cost Savings Before Closing DC Public Schools”

  1. Ed,

    What’s really up with these school closings?

  2. […] More fiscal clarity needed on school closings (DCFPI) […]