Strongest Year Yet priorities included in mayor’s budget proposal

We are extremely encouraged by the funding Mayor Bowser proposed today in her fiscal year 2022 budget for the District of Columbia’s education sector. It includes many of the Strongest Year Yet coalition’s priorities: increased funding and additional enrichment opportunities that set DC up for an equitable recovery for students of all ages.

This school year has been unlike any other. COVID-19’s enduring and inequitable impacts in the forms of learning loss, social disconnection, and more are well established. We can build on the positive investments announced today to provide even stronger academic and social-emotional supports for students — no matter their background.

In the weeks and months ahead, the coalition will engage with councilmembers to protect these investments and direct additional funding to critical areas, such as out of school time funding, in order to ensure that school year 2021-22 is #StrongestYearYet for DC students.

The mayor’s budget proposal aligns with SYY priorities by:

Increasing per student funding and raises weights for students furthest from opportunity

The proposed 3.6 percent increase is a strong start, but setting our students up for their #StrongestYearYet calls for an increase of at least 4 percent per student. Furthermore, given the pandemic’s disproportionate impact and the historic marginalization of students that are at-risk and English Language Learners, we must address this inequity by increasing the at-risk and ELL weights to .37 and .61, respectively, to meet the level recommended in the 2013 adequacy study.

We need the Council to go further. Click here to urge your councilmembers to build on the mayor’s initial proposed education investments so that our schools have the resources they need to provide an equitable recovery.

Adding new enrichment opportunities

Our students need new academic and socio-emotional supports that will best help them recover from the effects of the pandemic. The mayor has proposed investments in this area including:

  • $13 million for high-impact tutoring, with additional funding for this important recovery tool
  • $8 million to expand school-based mental health
  • $5.6 million for summer programming with academic enrichment

Read more about the promise of high-impact tutoring from SYY Partners The Literacy Lab and Reading Partners.

Expanding the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and strengthens college and career planning

Earlier this year, the mayor announced plans to add academic recovery as part of the Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program. Today’s budget proposal builds on the plan to blend academic and career learning by investing:

  • $1.35 million for mentoring for low-income and first generation college going students
  • $29 million to reimagine high school work-based learning including:
    • $1.9 million to expand middle school career awareness in 20 middle schools
    • $10.4 million to launch new career center in high-demand fields
    • $6.9 million to support work-based learning programming
    • $3 million to increase SYEP wages
    • $6.9 million for senior-year internship wages for 1,200 students over three years

Preparing for a safe, in-person opening in the Fall

The mayor has already announced that all schools should open on-time for in-person learning this Fall. Key to creating safe environments is ensuring easy access to vaccinations against COVID-19. DCPS recently announced that four schools will serve as vaccine clinics and public charter schools may sign up to become vaccine clinics. Additionally, the mayor today proposed $10 million in grants to assist public charter schools in safe and effective reopening.

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