Strongest Year Yet, a coalition of nearly 50 DC education, health, and community organizations today called on Mayor Muriel Bowser, Chairman Phil Mendelson, and members of the DC Council to prioritize DC students, families, and schools in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget.
To support our students, the coalition for DC students urges District leaders to support DC schools, families, and students in the upcoming 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).
Among the priorities:
Reopen Schools In-Person and On-Time in Fall 2021: DC must set a goal to open all DC public schools in-person and on-time for School Year 2021-2022 and proactively plan for fall reopening, including engaging families and school staff, building parent and community confidence, and establishing the required health protocols to operate schools safely.
Families should not be forced to attend school in person, but all families must have the option to attend in-person on a full and consistent schedule, while ensuring that the quality of virtual learning does not decline.
Increase the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) by at least 4 percent, and raise the at-risk and English Language Learner (ELL) weights to adequate funding levels: Schools need greater investment given the scale of the challenges students and educators are likely to face in the year and years ahead. Increased resources will mean schools can scaffold more robust academic and social-emotional supports for students — no matter their background.
Extend the school day, week, and year: The city must provide schools the option and resources to extend the school day, school week, and school year, and families the opportunity to enroll their children in academic and socio-emotional supports that will best help them recover from the effects of the pandemic, including “summer bridge” programs, “Social Emotional Saturdays,” and whole-school enrichment opportunities. Community partners and organizations stand at the ready to support schools and communities, including with High-Dosage Tutoring (HDT).
Expand the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP): Already in the works, SYEP as an opportunity for academic and social-emotional enrichment will give students aged 14 and older a better chance of being prepared for School Year 2021-2022 and be able to achieve their dreams for life after high school. For over-age students, the reimagined SYEP could re-engage students in schooling, improving long-term employability and economic stability.