D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) plans to spend $6.2 million during the 2017-2018 school year to bring algebra classes, engineering and computer science electives, coding clubs, lacrosse and wrestling to its middle schools.
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, Deputy Mayor of Education Jennifer Niles and DCPS Chancellor Antwan Wilson announced the proposed investment at the newly renovated Northeast Brookland Middle School Friday.
The school system has not yet released its final proposed budget for 2018, which must be approved by the D.C. Council, but officials said it will be the eighth consecutive year of increased spending in DCPS.
“I don’t normally make budget announcements before I release the budget, so you can tell that these are very special initiatives,” Bowser said.
Bowser has focused heavily on middle schools during her time in office. Her 2014 mayoral campaign featured the slogan “Alice Deal for All,” a reference to one of the city’s most sought-after middle schools, to show her commitment to improving middle schools while in office.
DCPS has 13 middle schools, 14 schools with elementary and middle grades and two schools with middle and high school grades.
“These investments will transform the middle and high school experience for students throughout D.C., and ensure that we are setting more students up for success,” Bowser said in a statement. “By adding more extracurriculars, more STEM classes, and additional college and career support, we will be able to engage more students and keep them on track to succeed beyond high school.”
The new systemwide investment aims to ensure that every middle school student can participate in at least one extracurricular activity. New offerings include coding clubs, lacrosse, wrestling, rugby, archery, hockey, a wheelchair track and field and unified basketball for students with disabilities.
To support the increased engineering and computer science electives and offering of algebra to all middle schools, 750 new computers will be added to schools.
“These budget priorities focus on making school joyful for students and providing supports for all students to be successful in school, no matter their path,” Wilson said.
For high schools, DCPS will hire college-and-career coordinators at nine schools to help students create a personal plan for their future after graduation and increase college exposure through college tours, career coaching and job training.
Questioned about whether the middle and high school opportunities would be made available in the struggling neighborhood schools in Wards 7 and 8, Bowser replied that “both sides of the river are ours.”
“Our commitment is getting rid of that demarcation in our city,” she said. “So no matter the side of the river you live on, we want a robust neighborhood school for you.”