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S.H.A.P.P.E. Testimony and Letters

S.H.A.P.P.E. uses letters and testimony as a way of letting our appointed and elected leaders know where the DCPS high schools stand on an issue.  The S.H.A.P.P.E. meetings provide input on the content, there is also an email solicitation and often follow up phone calls to solicit the thoughts from any group that is under-represented at the meetings.  


DC City Council FY18 Budget Hearing  April 27, 2017

Draft Testimony of Cathy Reilly

Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators- S.H.A.P.P.E

My name is Cathy Reilly and I am the executive director of the Senior High Alliance of Parents, Principals and Educators – SHAPPE and a founding member of the Ward 4 Education Alliance. 

On the Capital:

First I would like to state my strong support for the modernization of Coolidge High School as a middle and high school. It has the potential to relieve crowding in Ward 3 and has been championed for years by that community as they have waited their turn. 

Secondly I support moving up the modernization of West which is an open plan school with very few windows and ranked in high need on your scale.  The middle grades will begin moving out next year; it has a waiting list and is an area dense with young families willing to invest in their neighborhood school. This is a vital area for DCPS to invest and to serve these families in their DCPS schools of right in an educationally sound building. It should be moved up. 

Regarding the Operating Budget for DCPS:

The 1.5% increase from the Mayor does not cover the cost of inflation thus you have schools with stable or increased enrollment making cuts to their budgets.  See Mary Levy’s calculation with position cost increases ranging from 2 to 12%. For schools struggling with unstable enrollment in a choice landscape where changing schools is encouraged, the cost to program is even higher.  The education budget from the Mayor was not an historic increase, it was actually a decrease given the base costs that have to be covered.  This is true across both sectors as you can see in the UPSFF working group recommendation of a 3.5% raise.   We support DCFPI’s position that that highest priority at this point should be to stop the plan to eliminate taxes for estates worth up to $5.5 million, and to stop  a planned cut in business income taxes (which already have been cut in recent years). 

You can see from the testimony thus far that the high schools most severely impacted are CHEC, Wilson and Ballou.  You have heard the details of what the cost will be to this wide range of students from each of these communities.  The first services to go are often those serving the socio emotional needs of the students-counselors, social workers, in house suspension support, and perhaps even nurses.  This places increased demands on each classroom teacher, often demands that cannot be realistically well met.  Class size goes up with the other mandates from DCPS; students are more vulnerable to truancy. 

These needs should absolutely be addressed in this budget.  You have the power to increase the education budget and to ensure that the funds are then justly allocated within DCPS. 

Planning:

In DCPS we have the opportunity of a large system that could offer flexibility and the advantages of scale and sharing.  We now have a very high degree of standardization that is stifling some of that opportunity.  We would like your help as we work with our new chancellor to invite a culture of more planning and evaluation. 

·         DCPS should convene a budget planning process for FY19 now that includes parents, community, school leaders and admin.

·         Local schools should convene an inclusive school planning process in September with support available from central; A budget should fund a plan. 

·         The mandated AB schedule for high schools should be evaluated.  Since schools across the city have different schedules did the change have a negative impact on grades if not course completion; student and teacher satisfaction?

·         What has the schedule impact been of mandating 20 electives across all high schools? Are students being placed in electives they have chosen?  Are core classes now larger? 

·         The staff time requirements of LEAP are significant, increasing class size, teacher load and reducing time spent with students. Should it be amended or changed with what we now see?

City wide

We support a strong publicly managed system of schools.  This is threatened particularly in wards 5 through 8.  We ask for your clear support as we work to do what is necessary to maintain the public infrastructure in our city of our DCPS schools for now and for posterity.   

 
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Cathy Reilly,
Feb 4, 2013, 6:19 PM
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