Defining Adequacy for DC Public Education

With everyone focused on Chancellor Kaya Henderson’s school closures proposal, you might not be aware that a new study is just getting started to help answer a critical education policy question: Are we spending enough on public schools in the District? 

The year-long study’funded by the DC Deputy Mayor for Education’will analyze the cost of providing an “adequate” public education in the District. Interested in learning more about the study? There will be a public information and discussion session on the study this Wednesday night from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, 1201 17th St. NW. 

The idea for the adequacy study stems from the DC Public Education Finance Reform Commission. The independent commission, which was created by DC Council legislation in 2010 and issued its recommendations this past February, mainly tackled the issue of “equity” of school funding between DC Public Schools and DC Public Charter Schools. But it also looked at broader issues of adequacy, affordability, and transparency in public education in DC. The Commission recommended that a full-scale study be completed to analyze the full costs of an adequate education in DC. 

DCFPI thinks the study is a good opportunity for the District to see if we are spending the right amount per student to meet our city’s educational needs. For example, the study might recommend revisions to the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula, which has not been updated since 2008, and offer a template for a working group to update the formula on a regular basis in the future. In addition, the adequacy study may make recommendations to change the way the needs of certain students are “weighted” or given additional funds because of greater levels of need, like we do now for English language learners and students in special education. One of the Commission’s recommendations was that additional funding be considered for schools based on the number of students who are both low-income and academically behind. The adequacy study is also going to analyze the way DC finances and manages capital investments, maintenance, utilities and custodial services for school buildings and facilities. 

Again, the public information and discussion session on the study will be this Wednesday from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at the Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives, 1201 17th St. NW.


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