Council budget sets DC students up for Strongest Year Yet

Today the DC Council approved on its first vote an FY22 budget that makes large strides towards ensuring next school year is the Strongest Year Yet for DC students.

After an unprecedented year of remote learning as our city and families grappled with the pandemic, our students need unprecedented supports. Strongest Year Yet, a coalition of nearly 50 DC education, health, and community organizations, urged District leaders to support DC schools, families, and students in the FY22 budget by: reopening schools in-person and on-time in Fall 2021; increasing funding by at least 4 percent; raising the at-risk and English Language Learner weights to adequate levels; extending the school day, week, and year; and expanding the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP).

Earlier this year, Mayor Muriel Bowser prioritized DC schools with a strong budget proposal that aligned with our coalition’s priorities. The near-final budget put together by the Council, under the leadership of Chairman Phil Mendelson, preserves and expands upon the mayor’s proposed investments:

  • Preserves the mayor’s proposed 3.6% increase in per student funding and additional funding for at-risk students who are overage in high school and English Language Learners in secondary grades.
  • Prepares schools to reopen in-person and on-time in Fall 2021.
  • Preserves the mayor’s investments in high-impact tutoring and summer programming to ensure students are on track academically.
  • Invests an additional $5 million in out-of-school time enrichment programs that will reconnect communities and foster a love of learning.
  • Fully funds the school-based mental health expansion to provide students the mental and behavioral health supports that will set them up for success.

The coalition thanks Chairman Mendelson and members of the Council for their work on the fiscal year 2022 budget and their continued engagement in education and support of DC’s students and families. We look forward to the final vote on the budget in the coming weeks.

As District leaders work to implement the funding included in this budget in the coming months, we know that there are many families and students are hesitant to get vaccinated or who question the capacity of the school system to keep their students safe. We must continue to push for robust community engagement to ensure families are bought in, and students can safely and enthusiastically return to campuses in the fall.

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