DC education budget grows by $70 million


Courtesy of dcps.dc.gov

Ethan Leifman

DC increased education spending for fiscal year 2020 by $70 million. Public and charter schools will receive the same amount of funding per student, as mandated by federal law.

 Last year, DCPS faced a budget deficit of $25 million over its operating budget of almost $1 billion. DCPS was able to close $15 million of the deficit, but still reported a budget deficit of $10 million for fiscal year 2019. Though some charter school advocates are unhappy that DCPS’s deficit will be covered, Deputy Mayor for Education, Paul Kihn, said the deficit was a result of DCPS hiring more competent and experienced teachers than anticipated, which translates into higher wages. 

“I am very pleased that the Mayor’s Office has decided to increase the proportion of the mayor’s budget that goes to fund public schools. I’m confident that once the Chancellor is able to review the needs of all the schools, he’ll make great decisions about how that money can be spent so that it can be put to the best use at the schools with the highest need,” said Principal Kimberly Martin. 

Martin said it’s possible Wilson will see an increase in funding, but she expects the money will primarily go towards reducing inequities in resources at DC’s most underserved schools. 

“I’m not sure what the Chancellor’s priorities are in relation to the funds right now, but he’s made a huge commitment to technology, so the ELI Initiative, to give all ninth-graders a laptop, that’s going to require significant funding,” said Martin. She also notes that some of the money might also go towards paying raises for a renegotiated contract for the Council of School Officers, the union for school administration and staff. “It’s hard for me to know how that $70 million might be used.”

“The Chancellor has his priorities, and I’m sure the Budget Office is providing him with a list of high-need areas, and I suspect that Wilson High School wouldn’t necessarily be in the top five of those priorities,” Martin said. 

Martin notes that there has been a lot of reorganization at the DCPS Central Office recently, which she views as a positive change. “I think that the Chancellor has a strategic plan for his reorganization so that more services and resources… are at the school level,” she said. “If folks are not in direct service to the schools, then he’s evaluating if those positions are still needed.”