Statement from DFER-DC Director Catharine Bellinger on Mayor Bowser’s Proposed FY2018 Budget

Washington, DC — Democrats for Education Reform-DC Director Catharine Bellinger today released the following statement in response to the education portion of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Proposed FY2018 Budget and Financial plan:

“There’s a lot to like in Mayor Bowser’s budget proposal for next year, but some critical areas remain underfunded.

“First, it’s an important step forward that the Mayor commits to increase the facilities allotment for public charter schools by 2.2% annually for four years. Facilities funding for charter schools has been largely flat for ten years. With this four-year commitment, schools can make needed improvements to their buildings or lease facilities that are more sufficient for the size of their student bodies. We applaud the Mayor for making a long-term investment that will provide tens of thousands of students with better learning environments.

“At the same time, however, we are troubled to see that the Mayor only proposes a 1.5% increase in the per-pupil funding level for all public schools — DCPS and charter. Democrats for Education Reform and hundreds of parents, educators, and community leaders have urged the Mayor to fully fund all schools by making at least a 2% increase to per-pupil funding, and ideally the full 3.5% increase recommended in January 2017 by the Mayor’s Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) Working Group.

“School finance experts, educators, parents and constituents have advocated for the per-pupil funding to increase at a level that keeps pace with rising costs. Sadly, the 2018 budget proposal sets the UPSFF at a level below the expected rise of inflation. Many schools plan their annual budgets assuming a 2% annual increase, which has been the median increase over the last decade. Without this increase, schools will be forced to choose between fair pay for teachers and important offerings like art, music, tutoring, and extracurriculars.

“We understand that with rapidly increasing student enrollment, the education budget is growing faster than it has in past years. City leaders must look at this enrollment growth positively — as a sign that more families are confident in our public schools. We can only maintain this progress by continuing to provide adequate funds to our public schools.

“We urge the D.C. Council to remedy this gap in funding by making at least a 2% increase to the per-pupil funding level, and if possible fully funding the recommended 3.5% increase. Finally, we hope that a mid-year increase to per-pupil funding might be possible, as has been done in some past years when the District is financially healthy.”

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Contact: Catharine Bellinger,  202-361-9172