Three staff positions lost due to budget limitations

Joanna Chait

Wilson’s annual budget only increased by one and a half percent, resulting in a $1 million deficit for the upcoming school year.

The change resulted in Principal Kimberly Martin cutting three non-instructional positions to make up for the shortfall. To protect their privacy,  Martin did not specify further information regarding the faculty who are losing their jobs.

  She explained the cause of the deficit, “The cost of everything went up as they always do for inflation, but this year, our budget [did not increase at the same rate].” 

The money allotted to DCPS in the Mayor’s budget increased disproportionately to the rate of inflation due to the decrease in enrollment across DCPS. However, Wilson’s enrollment only decreased by five students.

“The school has to absorb, without additional funding, mandated increases in specific staff positions, a mandated increase in administrative premium, the increase in the cost of staff, and increased security costs,” wrote LSAT Chair Sam Frumkin, in an email to the LSAT. 

 Wilson will also have to cover Non-Personnel spending (NPS), which was traditionally paid for by DCPS. 

Additionally, admin premium, which is money used to pay teachers working overtime, increased by $168,670 from the last fiscal year to now. Likewise, the security budget increased by about $125,000, according to Principal Kimberly Martin.

Martin is aiming to make up for the deficit without cutting programs; she has little guidance from the Central Office on the plan for next school year.

To maintain current staffing levels, it would cost Wilson $712,369, so Martin cut six non-instructional positions to make up the budget deficit. Through the petition process, Martin was able to bring back two roles, including the pathways coordinator. One position was added to the payroll through funding by DCPS Central Office. 

In total, three positions were lost. However, there is a possibility that Central Office will use their funding to compensate for the staff that was cut. 

One of the reasons why Martin had to cut three existing roles was that DCPS denied her petition to not add three new special education teachers.

“My petition to use those special education teachers to keep other things like a librarian to keep other positions that aren’t coming back next year was denied,” Martin said.

Martin used a petition to save money by cutting the librarian. She is still keeping the library facility in operation by adding two additional part-time positions: a librarian aide and a tech coordinator.

DCPS Central Office also added one and a half counselors to the budget, so Martin wrote a petition to maintain two counselors per grade level. It was approved.” I don’t know how you get half a person.” Martin said.

Martin was able to maintain the pathways coordinator through Safe and Positive Schools; Wilson was allotted $620,000, some of which could be used for social-emotional learning. Martin is prioritizing social-emotional learning  by keeping the pathways coordination, which works directly with students. Also, she used the money for educational supplies rather than traditional security. 

“I used 488,000, for security [systems]  and just over 100,000, to keep the pathways coordinator. Then I put $4,500 in education supplies and 3,600 in admin premium, and 7,000 in admin costs,” Martin said. 

  Martin hopes to reduce the NPS budget, which covered items like soap, classroom supplies, and paper towels. 

“We have a big old storeroom full of toilet paper and soap because students were in school this year. Since I have a lot of that already, and reserve, I can cut a little bit,” Martin said. However, cutting NPS spending will only save $15,000, which is a fraction of the money needed to overcome the budget loss.  

Martin wants to utilize the $550,000 that Wilson will receive from the federal stimulus fund to pay for the staff not financed by the school budget. Although Martin does not have the money yet, she can use it to pay teachers who are working overtime.

“I know in practice when the teacher is doing overtime, who cares what budget I take it out of. Whether I’m using the stimulus funds, or whether I’m using admin premium, it probably won’t matter,” Martin said.

Martin is hesitant to advocate because “other parts of the city are bleeding deeper and we are Wilson, will get what we need,” she said.