D.C. Charter School Advocate: Mayor’s Budget Proposal ‘Inadequate’

Ramona Edelin, executive director of D.C. Association for Chartered Public Schools, issued the following statement regarding Mayor Muriel Bowser’s education budget proposals for fiscal year 2018:

The District government’s proposed budget for next fiscal year is inadequate to the needs of the District of Columbia’s public school children. The budget also is a statement of priorities and as such fails to recognize the importance of their future and therefore that of our city.

Current plans propose a 1.5 percent increase in the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula, which finances school operation costs for students enrolled in D.C. Public Schools and the District’s public charter schools.

This proposal is lower than the expected rate of inflation for the year ahead, currently running at a 2.7 percent annual rate, and well below the 3.5 percent increase recommended by the Mayor’s Uniform Per Student Funding Formula Working Group in January this year.

The mayor’s plans for per-student public school operations funding also is significantly lower than the 4.3 percent proposed increase overall increase in the city budget. In a year with a record budget surplus, the future of our city — its children — deserve higher priority.

Public school finance experts as well as charter and traditional public school educators advocated raising per-student funding in line with rising costs and expected at least a two percent annual increase — the median increase over the last decade.

The D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools, which represents the District’s public charter schools that educate nearly half of D.C. public school students, believes that the proposed settlement is inadequate for all public school children, charter and traditional.

Additionally, budget plans include a 2.2 percent increase in school facilities funds for public charter school students — significantly short of rapidly rising real estate and construction costs while the city spends three times as much in facilities funds on students in city-run schools compared to charters. The increase, while welcome, does not make up for many the years in which the fund was left flat: a cut in real terms.

Half of District public school students are defined as “at risk.” Nearly three-quarters live in economically disadvantaged homes — almost 80 percent in D.C.’s charters. The District’s tax base and public school enrollment are expanding: so must its investment in D.C.’s children.

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