Chevy Chase Citizens Association: May 17, 2017

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Concerns are growing among parents in our association’s area about Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed 2017-18 budget for the District’s public schools. As the number of students has grown, the mayor’s proposed rate of spending per pupil has not kept up with the rate of inflation.

Wilson High School is located at 3950 Chesapeake St. NW in Tenleytown. (Brian Kapur/The Current/September 2016)

Each public school is funded under a “uniform per student funding formula.” For the third year in a row, Bowser is proposing an increase in the formula below the inflation rate. One result is that positions are being eliminated at a time when more students are flooding into our schools. At Wilson High School, eight positions are being cut for the next school year, including two counselors. This is on top of nine staff positions eliminated last year and 12 the year before.

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Concerned about these cuts, the D.C. Council joined with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to convene a working group, which recommended a 3.5 percent increase in the formula for the 2018-19 school year to match the rate of inflation. Bowser came back with a one-time 2 percent rise, which will still force cuts across the city.

The working group is troubled about the timing of the budget process. Many schools do not receive budget numbers until a few months before the school year begins, which makes planning difficult. The group and concerned parents are asking why the school modernization budget appears to be decreasing when at least 34 schools have not been fully modernized.

Parents can sign a petition opposing Bowser’s position at tinyurl.com/DCPS-budget-petition. Matthew Frumin of the Coalition for D.C. Public Schools and Communities says the D.C. Council may vote on the budget next week, so time is short.

Also, please join us this Saturday, May 20, for our annual public safety event. The police department’s 2nd District and the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department will showcase specialized equipment and provide kids an opportunity to explore it. There will be a LIDAR station that measures vehicle speeds along Connecticut Avenue, a “public safety trivia” contest, and a donut-hole-eating contest. The event is open to the public; hot dogs and burgers will be served. It will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday in the PNC Bank parking lot on Morrison Street behind 5530 Connecticut Ave. NW.

— Jenny Backus