School funding update: Council approves 3% increase to per-pupil funding

The DC Council voted yesterday to approve the FY2018 budget for the City, including a 3% increase to the baseline per-pupil funding for all public schools. This is the first vote of two — a final vote will occur on June 13th.

The baseline per-pupil funding increase was championed by Education Reform Now, Democrats for Education Reform, and other local advocacy groups including FOCUS, PAVE, the Charter Association, the DC Education Coalition for Change (DECC), and others after we heard directly from school leaders, PTAs, and teachers that school budgets were not keeping pace with the rapid rise in inflation and cost of living in the District.

Advocates called for a 3.5% funding increase, the amount recommended earlier this year by an OSSE working group convened by the Mayor. Although we fell short of this goal, a 3% increase is a huge win for kids in the city and a much larger investment in public education than we’ve seen in prior years. We wholeheartedly thank the DC Council for making this investment, which represents $18.7 million in additional dollars over the original budget proposed by the Mayor, and will allow many public schools in DC to retain staff positions and/or programs that otherwise might have been cut.

The Washington Post reported today on the broad consensus that public school funding generated on the Council:

“….In contrast to the dispute over tax cuts, the council spent no time Tuesday debating its plan for education funding, which will increase per-pupil spending by 3 percent from last year. Bowser initially suggested an increase of half that amount.

The mayor’s proposed schools budget was widely panned by parents, educators and council members who said it was not sufficient.”

Finally, we’re thrilled that the education budget also includes a 2.2% annual increase for four years to the charter school facilities allotment. Public charter schools are funded with operating dollars, rather than capital dollars, and cannot borrow against the city’s credit. Public charters receive money on an annual, per-pupil basis to cover the costs of their school buildings’ mortgages and renovations. This increase was included by the Mayor and approved by the Council. We’re very excited to see both the Mayor and Council making this funding stream a priority after it has been flat for almost 10 years.