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Investing in Our Schools and Community

Investing in Our Schools and Community

Dear DCPS Community,

With Mayor Bowser’s leadership, DC Public Schools (DCPS) is proud to release the initial allocation of school funds for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) that covers the upcoming School Year 2020-2021. It is also my honor to share, that for the 11th consecutive year, we are increasing the investments going directly to schools, ensuring that we meet the needs of students while also retaining the best teachers, principals, and school staff.

You can find initial FY21 budget allocations for every DCPS school online at The DCPS Data Center is your one-stop shop for all data related information. It also now includes additional resources about the budget planning process including a mobile pocket guide to the DCPS budget and new interactive tools for understanding how your school’s budget is developed.

School budgets are designed to meet our shared priorities of a great school in every neighborhood at every grade level; making decisions rooted in the values of equity and transparency; and ensuring every student is prepared for post-secondary success. These strategic investments are making a difference in our school community, and the FY21 budget builds off that success and expands key investments for students and families that you can read more about below.

I recently wrote to you about what’s driving DCPS’ progress in my first 12 months as Chancellor, and I encourage you to visit my new Medium account to read the full report.

Students in the Coolidge High School Health Sciences Academy

Building a Fair Budget for Our Schools

Last year, we received feedback from our community about the importance of the DCPS budget being both transparent and equitable. That guidance was on the top of our minds as engagement began for the next budget and was a consistent theme in our public and community budget forums that took place in the fall.

It’s why we are releasing initial allocations to schools along with a number of enhancements to the DCPS Data Center to help our school community better understand how their budgets are made. These online tools reflect our commitment to provide clarity and build understanding on how what is happening in our schools informs the budget.

To ensure a standard of service for all schools, DCPS allocates dollars to schools through the Comprehensive Staffing Model (CSM). The CSM is designed to provide every school enough positions and supplemental funding to ensure that students across all wards have access to a high-quality educational experience. School budgets are determined by enrollment and student need. We ensure resources are going closest to students and where they are needed the most. Individual schools will see these factors reflected in their initial allocation.

Here is what you need to know about your school budget for FY21:

  • We are maintaining or expanding key investments closest to students and families, and on average, DCPS schools are receiving an eight percent budget increase for FY21.
  • We are sustaining our Empowered Learners Initiative with a multi-million-dollar investment to close the digital divide and reach a 1:1 student to device technology ratio by 2022 by adding grades 4, 7, and 10 for next school year. This initiative will take our rigorous and engaging curriculum to the next level by using technology to unlock additional resources to meet the unique needs of every learner.
  • We will continue to invest $2.1 million in DCPS Connected Schools that provide students and families with wraparound services, including family wellness and behavioral health supports, housing, childcare, and financial assistance referrals, as well as supports to address chronic absenteeism.
  • We will make a new $500,000 investment to support early literacy intervention programs to help reach our goal of every K-2 student reading at grade level by 2022.
  • We are also introducing new, targeted assistance funds for a subset of schools that I recognize may benefit from some additional resources to support their ongoing school improvement efforts. Nearly 65 percent of the $3.425 million in targeted assistance is going to schools in wards 7 and 8.

Students at Smothers Elementary School reading

Additionally, our free pre-K programs place our youngest learners and their families on a path toward greater economic opportunity and academic success across all eight wards. In School Year 2020-2021, DCPS will launch the Stevens Early Learning Center, a unique opportunity to educate our earliest learners in a model devoted specifically to zero-to-PK4 thanks to a partnership with Bright Beginnings. DCPS is excited to reopen the historic Thaddeus Stevens building with a full modernization and pilot a priority preference for families that qualify as at-risk. This citywide program will also build DCPS’ capacity to serve young learners with special needs and is an opportunity to cultivate a socioeconomic- and ability-diverse school community.School budgets will continue to ensure that educators receive the curriculum supports and teaching resources they need in the classroom; that safety remains paramount and school security personnel are appropriately staffed; and that students have access to supports both inside and outside of the classroom.The budget is modeled on our collective vision to accelerate progress for all students and builds toward a next generation budget model for Fiscal Year 2022 and beyond that will address challenges around equity, financial sustainability, and transparency. We are living in a moment when more money is going to schools, and our district is facing rising school-based compensation investments and higher operating costs, so we know that we need to approach our new budget model in a strategic and intentional manner. We recognize that school leaders and communities know their schools best, and we want to listen to the needs of our community, evaluating them alongside our desired student outcomes, in order to create a budget model that acknowledges the reality of rising costs and best serves our students.I look forward to working alongside you in service of our students, educators, and families.

In partnership,

Lewis D. Ferebee, Ed.D.

Stay up to date on news across DCPS by following @dcpublicschools and @DCPSChancellor on Twitter.

Students in the NAF Engineering Academy at H.D. Woodson High School