Building A Better Budget—Oh, And Hearings YOU Can Testify At!!

In the wake of the June 4 invite-only hearing last week on DC’s FY21 public education budget (listen here and see the witness list here), the DC council will be holding two budget hearings next week, on June 17 and 18–and YOU can testify!

Deadline to sign up is June 15–see here and here for more information.

To provide some background on DC’s education budget, I have put below two things: a list of resources and policy points for ensuring greater equity in our school funding, and DC budget analyst Mary Levy’s excellent May 30 notes on DCPS’s budget, Head Start funding loss in DCPS, and coronavirus funding (all reprinted below with permission; copyright Mary Levy 2020).

•••Budget recommendations from Digital Equity in DC Education, including an ask for DCPS computers & electronic devices of $17.9 million ($11 million more than the current budget request of $6.9 million for DCPS technology), to ensure every DCPS student in K-12 has a computer this coming school year. In addition, some ideas floated for expanding internet access involve creating more public WiFi locations as well as free or low-cost home internet access. Big caveat: the lead agency on municipal internet access is OCTO, whose budget has been cut. One can submit testimony for its hearing on June 12 to the Committee on Government Operations (chair is Brandon Todd) at

•••Coalition for DC Public Schools & Communities (C4DC) recommendations for strengthening DCPS in a time of crisis.

•••Social justice in DC’s budget, inspired by Black Lives Matter (a live document).

•••Black Lives Matter DC statement on strengthening schools and defunding of DC police.

•••Saving money in our school budgets through structural change.
Notes on Mayor’s FY2021 Proposed Budget for DCPS

By Mary Levy

Taking into account the projected enrollment increase, the proposed DCPS budget for next year (FY 21) is very similar to that for this year. The detail indicates that it is a pre-pandemic budget, meaning that reallocations, at least within categories, are likely pending the development of specific plans.

Despite the forecast of diminished DC revenues this year, the FY20 revised budget is higher than the original in total dollars but a little lower in per pupil dollars because actual enrollment was over 1,000 students higher than originally projected.

As for next year, compared to actual funding (revised budget) and enrollment (audited) this year, per pupil funding at the local schools will rise by almost 2% next year. Central office funding–functions not providing direct services to students–will fall by about 6%. Schools staff positions will rise by 4.5%.


These numbers are preliminary, pending more exact analysis, but final numbers will change very little. Analysis of schoolwide by function indicates that Schools + Schoolwide combined are a reasonable estimate of the amount budgeted for direct services to students.

–Schools: Local school budgets
–Schoolwide: Central budget accounts, but mostly direct services at schools such as substitutes, special education therapists and dedicated aides, athletics, summer school teachers & aides, food service, security guards, utilities. Drop in Schoolwide in the revised budget apparently attributable to use of enrollment reserve to provide additional resources at some schools whose actual enrollment significantly exceeded projected enrollment.
–Central: The rest, mostly not direct services to students

(Source: Data file including full SOAR codes, supplemented for Schoolwide by budget book detail.)

DETAILS: Dollars



The two tables together demonstrate that the better comparison is between FY20 Revised and FY21, with a focus on local funds. Local revenues are what we control, and what must be used before the end of the fiscal year. Amounts of expected federal and private funding usually change significantly after budget approval, and most can be carried over into the next fiscal year.

DETAILS: Full-Time Equivalent Positions (not available for Revised Budget)




DCPS is expected to receive about $26 million from the federal Education Stabilization Fund, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Estimated total funding for DC PK-12 education in the table below is derived from U.S. Department of Education tables, with allocations based on the percentage of FY 19 Title I expenditures for DCPS, charters & private school “equitable services,” as directed by the legislation. Funds are to be used for remote learning, safe re-opening, mental health, and academic catch-up. The table assumes DC will ignore recent Department of Education guidance to give more to private schools. We do not know whether the District has received these funds yet, but they are not listed in the Mayor’s proposed budget. They are to be spent promptly, however.

DCPS Head Start Funding Loss

By Mary Levy


Head Start funding loss of $14.6 million includes losses of resources now in place, approximate amounts:

• $2.1 million funding salaries of 72 aides in 52 schools all included in their budgets
• $2.3 million for salaries of 26 centrally funded staff working with students and families in student recruitment, attendance, mental health, and social services referrals
• $1.7 million for salaries of 17 early childhood professional development staff
• $3.6 million for salaries of 40 staff providing curriculum, program monitoring, supervisory and administrative services
• $1.9 million for staff fringe benefits
• $0.8 million in funded vacant positions
• $2.0 million for supplies, contracts, and miscellaneous non-personnel resources, specific purposes of which are unclear

Head Start funds pay for 155 people on the DCPS payroll as of January 2020. If the number of early childhood classrooms is maintained next year, almost $2.5 million will have to be taken from elsewhere in the budget to cover the salaries and benefits of 72 aides now funded by Head Start. DCPS plans to abolish 83 positions, which would account for all of the centrally paid staff. In addition to administrative and instructional support staff, this will eliminate social workers and others who work directly with Head Start students and families. All non-personnel funds will also disappear including money for all kinds of classroom supplies and food and perhaps contracted social/emotional support services.

Budget & Personnel Analysis January 2020

Note: DCPS Head Start budget, from the District’s SOAR system, displays all personnel data, including Head Start aides in central accounts, and does not show job titles or otherwise differentiate spending on aides and family services from other categories of staff. The position roster, from the PeopleSoft system, displays salary costs for aides at each school and, through job titles and position numbers, permits the differentiation of salaries for staff who work directly with students and families from those performing other functions such as curriculum, program monitoring, professional development, and administration. It also specifies which positions are vacant. Therefore, personnel data below are taken from the position roster and the non-personnel data from the budget.

DCPS total FY 2020 Head Start budget is $14.6 million, including $10.6 million for salaries, $1.9 million for benefits and other personnel costs, and $2.0 million for non-personnel (OTPS). The approved budget covers 112 positions.

According to the position roster, Head Start salary funding is spent on aides in local schools and on staff in three different central office units: Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO), Office of Elementary Schools, and Office of Equity. While $10.6 million is budgeted for salaries, position roster salaries total $12.6 million, with filled positions consuming $9.8 million. Vacant positions add up to $2.7 million, but are apparently funded at only $800,000. The unfunded positions all appear to be in the Office of Elementary Schools central accounts. As of January 2020:

• Schools: 72 aides on board and 3 vacant positions in 52 schools, total salary budget $2.1 million. This funding is apparently built into local school budgets, though not identified as such. The FY 2020 local school budgets on the DCPS website include $12,900,985 for PK3 and PK4 aides. The DCPS total SOAR budget only includes $10,586,961 in local funds for salaries for these aides.
• OCFO: 4 positions, all filled, costing $301,000.
• Early Stages, a citywide program to identify special education needs in young children, to which Head Start funds contribute 3 positions, all filled at a cost of $205,000.
• Office of Equity, which houses the LEAP professional development unit for Head Start: 17 staff on board costing about $1.7 million and 8 vacant positions budgeted at $677,000.
• Office of Elementary Schools Early Childhood staff working in functions such administration, curriculum, and program monitoring: 33 filled positions costing about $3.1 million, and 18 vacant positions budgeted at $1.5 million.
• Office of Elementary Schools Early Childhood staff recruiting students and providing family and mental health services and referrals: 26 staff on board, costing $2.3 million and 8 vacant positions budgeted at $555,000.

Non-personnel spending of $2.0 million is concentrated almost exclusively in the Early Childhood program. The data do not reflect how much is for classrooms or family services versus office functions nor do other public information sources.

• Educational supplies and food: $432,000
• Other supplies: $205,000
• Travel, printing, fees: $68,000
• Contracts & professional services: $1,280,000
• Hardware & software: $38,000

Head Start Background Information

DCPS has two sets of Head Start grants, Head Start and Head Start School Wide Model. Both grants flow directly from the federal government to DCPS. I.e., they are not allocated by or overseen by OSSE.

Head Start programs are offered in all DCPS Title I schools. In SY 2018-19 DCPS operated 326 HSSWM classrooms serving 2,782 HS eligible children. In SY 2019-20 DCPS was operating 341 HSSWM classrooms serving 2,537 HS eligible children. (DCPS Performance Oversight Hearing responses)

Purpose: “to promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of low-income children through the provision of comprehensive health, educational, nutritional, social and other services; and to involve parents in their children’s learning and to help parents make progress toward their educational, literacy and employment goals. Head Start also emphasizes the significant involvement of parents in the administration of their local Head Start programs.” (ditto, Attachment to Q 93)

Head Start funding supports (FY 2020 Local School Budget Guide, pp. 69-70)

• Family engagement support (Family Services Coordinator or Specialist), assistance in recruitment, enrollment and attendance support
• Professional development
• Two field trips per year per classroom
• Health and safety supplies, including pull-ups, wipes, cleaning products, first-aid kits, toothbrushes and toothpaste
• Thermal Cambros, serving dishes and utensils, and cold and hot bags for lunch
• Curricular–furnishings and instructional materials
• Replenishment of consumable early childhood classroom materials (paint, glue, crayons, markers, etc.)
• Annual stipends and administrative premium for training of a grade level chair who supports to implementation and maintenance of Head Start requirements.

HHS Monitoring Report (December 16, 2019, based on October 9, 2019 monitoring review) (see here)

• Non-compliance for “inappropriate release”: “The grantee did not ensure all staff and consultants followed appropriate practices to keep children safe during all activities, including, at a minimum only releasing children to an authorized adult. On August 30, 2019, school staff released a Head Start child enrolled at the Tacoma [sic] Elementary School to the incorrect adult.” Family friend authorized to pick up Child A was presented with and left with Child B. Timeframe for correction is 120 days.
• Deficiency for “discipline”: “On September 24, 2019, a Head Start child enrolled at Wheatley Elementary School was forcibly moved by a foster Grandparent volunteer which resulted in the child hitting his head against a bookshelf.” Volunteer forcefully dragged child by upper arm and slammed him in a chair, causing his head to jerk back and hit the bookshelf. Timeframe for correction is 30 days

HHS Program Performance Summary Report (December 16, 2019, based on monitoring review from October 1-7, 2019 covering previously identified findings). Deficiency was in failure to submit reports to HHS involving sexual incidents. Deficiency found to be corrected by new Incident Report tracking system.

Head Start mandates a parent policy council, through which parents have been able to express concerns and secure behavioral health support for students, and potentially this may be disbanded.
Notes on Coronavirus Funding

By Mary Levy

ESSERF (Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Fund) Title VIII of Division B of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) Act (part of the Education Stabilization Fund)

Ed Week April 16, 2020, Rick Hess interview of Nora Gordon, GU economics professor, expert on federal education spending, Intended for short-term response, including but not limited to public-health coordination, sanitation, ed tech, summer school, after-school, mental health. At school and district levels “providing principals and others [sic] leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools” and “activities necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies.” Funds flow to states. DE guidance important.

To be distributed within states according to existing district Title I allocations. ESSERF has no supplement not supplant provision. Title I counterfactual situation without Title I funds out the window here. ESSERF has a maintenance of effort requirement but also a waiver option where local revenue cannot remain at prior levels. Private school equitable services requirement unclear.

Recommends maximum flexibility and spending to offset “parental income shocks” right now. Getting kids back on track with summer school, extended day, tutoring in coming years.

School Services California Inc.: 90% to be passed through to LEAs using Title I formula. Can be used for online learning tech, sanitation supplies, mental health services, activities authorized by ESEA, IDEA, Perkins, etc. To extent practicable pay employees and contractors. Funding for 2021 and 2022 supposed to be at least the same as average spent on education over the prior three fiscal years but DE can waive.

ESSER Fund Notice: Deadline to apply is July 1, 2020; certification and Agreements processed as received and funds obligated on rolling, expedited basis expecting SEAs and LEAs to spend quickly. Maintenance of effort. State must maintain support of el-sec and higher ed and “may not include support for capital projects or for research and development or tuition and fees paid by students” in FY20 and FY21 “at least at the levels of such support that is the average of such State’s support for elementary and secondary education and for higher education in the three FYs preceding March 27, 2020.” But Secretary may waive the requirement “for the purpose of relieving fiscal burdens on States that have experienced a precipitous decline in financial resources.” Must, to extent practicable, pay employees and contractors “based on the unique financial circumstances of the entity.” Generally not to be used for bonuses, merit pay or similar expenditures unless related to disruptions or closures from virus. SEA must provide technical assistance to LEAs on use of ESSER f7unds for remote learning.

ESSERF Certification and Agreement: LEAs may use funds for any purposes listed in section 18003(d) of the CARES Act. Purpose is to address impact that virus has had and continues to have on schools. Includes both continuing to provide educational services such as remote learning and developing and implementing plans for return to normal operations. SEA reserve (from the 10%) for emergency needs. Cannot subsidize or offset executive salaries and benefits of non-employees or expenditures related to faculty unions. LEA must provide “equitable services to students and teachers in non-public schools located within the LEA in the same manner as provided under section 1117 of the ESEA….”

Appendix A (from statute): LEA may use funds for

1. Any activity authorized by ESEA, IDEA, etc.
2. Coordination of preparedness and response efforts with other agencies
3. Providing principals and other school leaders with resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools
4. Activities to address unique needs of low-income children, children with disabilities, ELL, racial/ethnic minorities, homeless and foster care
5. Procedures and systems to improve preparedness and response efforts
6. Training and PD for staff on sanitation, preventing spread
7. Supplies to sanitize facilities
8. Planning and coordinating including meals and online technology and continuation of educational services
9. Educational technology for students
10. Mental health services
11. Summer learning, afterschool
12. Other activities necessary to maintain operation of and continuity of services and continuing to employ existing staff.

Equitable services in consultation with nonpublic schools, which must operate in accordance with state law and be in existence prior to date of qualifying emergency.

ESSER Fund State Allocations Table: DC allocation is $42,006,342, with minimum LEA distribution of $37,805,719 and maximum SEA reservation of $4,200,635. LEAs are to receive allocations as with Title I. In FY 2019, DCPS received $32,525,089 in main Title I allocation and charter schools received $18,900,712 of total of $51,425,801, according to attachment Q86, OSSE responses Performance Oversight Hearings, February 2020. DCPS thus received 63.2% and charters received 36.8%. Applying those percentages to ESSERF, charters would receive $13,912,505 and DCPS would receive $23,910,845. However, funding for “equitable services” for private schools is included in the DCPS allocation. Preliminary allocations for FY 2019 for DCPS were $29,157,204 of which $1,821,479, or 6.2% was for private school services. 6.2% of $23,910,845 would be $1,493,734 for private schools, leaving $22,417,111 for DCPS. In FY 2020 DCPS budget for Title I is $29,540,409 of which $2,102,742 was budgeted for equitable services, or 7.1%. 7.1% of $23,910,845 is $1,702,019, leaving $22,208,826 for DCPS. Total Title I including charters not publicly available.

GEERF (Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund) (part of Education Stabilization Fund)

Notice of Funds: grants by formula to governors to provide LEAs, institutions of higher education and other education related entities with emergency assistance to address impact of coronavirus on students and parents, including continuance of educational services while schools are closed and supporting on-going functionality. Subgrants to LEAs and IHEs most significantly impacted. Equitable services for private schools required. Maintenance of effort but waivable. To extent practicable, pay employees and contractors but not SEA executives, unions, etc.

State Allocations Table: DC allocation is $5,807,678. 63.2% of that is $3,670,452 for DCPS and $2,137,226 for charters. DCPS share for private school services is $260,602, leaving $3,409,850 for DCPS.

Put the two parts together:

ESF-REM: (Education Stabilization Fund-Rethink K-12 Education Models) (part of Education Stabilization)

Purpose to provide discretionary grants to SEAs in states with highest coronavirus burden to address specific educational needs of students, parents and teachers. Must include addressing of remote learning. Must address one and only one of three absolute priorities: 1) microgrants to allow parents to meet educational needs of children through increased access to high-quality remote learning; 2) development or expansion of high quality course-access program or statewide virtual school enabling students to select from different courses offered by any public school in the state or by third party providers; 3) proposed educational strategies demonstrating rationale to address specific educational needs of state as related to remote learning. [Lengthy descriptions follow] Equitable access for private school students required.

Maintenance of effort: Support for elementary, secondary and higher education in three fiscal years preceding March 2020

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