From Ward 3’s elected representative on the DC State Board of Education, the latest on efforts to restore Wilson High School’s staff and funding for the 2017-2018 year.
Despite the DC Council vote to increase school funding and relieve staff cuts, Wilson High School still faces large staff cuts, with no apparent plan to restore them.
Last spring, Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed a city budget that dramatically underfunded the city’s schools. As a result of the underfunding, DC Public Schools (DCPS) cut the 2017-18 budgets of schools across the city.
The cuts sparked huge opposition, with many people emailing, calling, and visiting their Council members. The DC Council scraped funds from other parts of the budget and voted to increase per-student funding by 3% – compared to the mayor’s inadequate, below-inflation increase of 2%.
Moreover, the Council explicitly stated in its budget report (PDF, page 5) that “the Council expects the additional funds at DCPS to be used for restoring instructional staff and programs at schools.”
Despite these efforts, it appears DCPS will not restore staff at Wilson. Chancellor Antwan Wilson has emailed Bethany Nickerson, the chair of Wilson’s Local School Advisory Team (LSAT), writing that he believes “Wilson is positioned well for School Year 2017-18” and that the additional funds will be targeted instead to a variety of DCPS initiatives.
Wilson has lost 30 positions in 3 years, despite stable enrollment
In fact, Wilson is not well positioned. The mayor’s budget resulted in ten staff cuts for the coming school year. And with these cuts it has lost at least 30 positions in 3 years, though it has seen no significant decline in enrollment. And, the Council was clear: The extra funding was intended to allow schools to restore staff and programs that had been cut.
Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh has written the chancellor and Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles, noting that “Wilson has been regularly subjected to drastic budget cuts…. and has had “to cut nearly 30 staff members over 3 years…. Today, with an additional $11.5 million available and an obvious need at Wilson for additional financial support, it would be unacceptable for Wilson to yet again be denied the funding it needs to succeed.”
Please add your voice. Email the mayor
Unlike in most of the country, DC schools are under mayoral control. It’s important for her to understand the issues.
Please write Mayor Bowser and tell her the relentless cutting of Wilson staff – at least 30 over 3 years – is not fair. It will hurt a school that so many have worked so hard to improve over the years – a school that serves students from every ward. It serves more than 400 students classified as “at-risk,” roughly the same or more at=risk students than all but four DCPS schools. See enrollment and staffing details below
1. Mayor Bowser, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Dep. Mayor for Education Niles, email@example.com.
2. Would love if you copied me: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Consider copying your city council representative as well, so that they are fully aware of how their wishes are being ignored. Here is a list of council members:
email@example.com, At large
firstname.lastname@example.org, Ward 1
email@example.com, Ward 2
firstname.lastname@example.org, Ward 3
email@example.com, Ward 4
firstname.lastname@example.org, Ward 5
email@example.com, Ward 6
firstname.lastname@example.org, Ward 8
Enrollment and staffing details
Wilson has lost over 30 staff in 3 years, despite stable enrollment. It is unclear what is driving these cuts.
At times officials with DC Public Schools and the mayor’s office have argued that the staff cuts are due to enrollment cuts. But over these same three years, Wilson’s enrollment has remained essentially stable. Enrollment in 2014-15 was 1,788. Enrollment on “audit” day this past October, 2016 was 1,749. Actual enrollment this past April 20th was 1,806.
DCPS’s official projected enrollment for the next school year (almost surely underestimated) is 1,745. Many parents believe, based on the large class coming in from Deal, that Wilson’s actual enrollment next year is likely to exceed 1,800.
Regardless of which numbers you use, enrollment has declined by 43 at most, or has increased, using this spring’s actual enrollment, by 18. The fact is: Wilson has lost nearly a full staff person or more for each one-student decline in enrollment.