On Wednesday, June 26th, the D.C. Council Committee on Education heard testimony from over 40 public witnesses include AJE Parent Support Specialist Chioma Oruh and AJE Senior Staff Attorney Stacey Eunnae on two proposed bills to increase transparency in school budgeting and spending. You can read their testimony here (Chioma) and here (Stacey), and find out more about the bills below. Stacey and Chioma both made it clear to the Council that increasing transparency in public education is important for 1) the democratic and public oversight of public education 2) meaningful parent engagement 3) student safety and achievement and 4) accountability for the use of public funds in education.
The School Based Budgeting and Transparency Amendment Act of 2019 would require the Boards of Public Charter Schools to open their meetings to the general public in compliance with the D.C. Administrative Procedure Act, subjecting them to public input and scrutiny. Additionally, the bill would create an electronic reporting system for all LEA-level and public school-level budget expenditures, making it easier to compare expenditures across all D.C. public schools (both charter and within DCPS); require the Mayor to specify the annual amount DCPS central office spends on general education, special education, English language learners, and at-risk students at each grade level; and require all Public Charter Schools to release previous, current, and anticipated annual expenditures. Remember, LEA, or local educational agency, is the legal term for your school district. In DC we have one traditional public school LEA, which is DCPS, and we have over 60 charter LEAs which are authorized by the Public Charter School Board. Those 60 charter LEAs operate over 100 schools. DCPS, which is DC’s largest LEA, operates 115 schools. This bill would give families more information at the school level and at the LEA-level.
The Committee also heard testimony on the At Risk Transparency Amendment Act of 2019, which would require DCPS to disclose information on each individual school in its annual budget submission to the Council, including a separate line-item for at-risk funding and a narrative description of programs and services that are allocated at-risk funds. The bill also requires Public Charter Schools to report on all programs and services that are allocated at-risk funds, each traditional public school to release an annual at-risk funding plan, and the Chancellor to report on the use and impact of at-risk funds across DCPS.