The D.C. Council’s Education Committee was surprised to find in this year’s Education Committee Budget Report that 24 DCPS buildings have still not yet been modernized, even after the District has spent more than $1 billion in construction costs since the school modernization process started in earnest in 2008.
One wonders what emotion they would collectively express if they learned that far more public charter schools have consistently suffered from inadequate facilities funding. Imagine the bewilderment if they knew that the public charter school facility allocation has been increased only $16.00 per student in the last nine years.
This budget confirms the same sad fact that countless budgets before it have demonstrated: Washington D.C.’s public charter schools have been treated unjustly. Not only does this impact public charter schools fiscally, but it also affects how charters can operate best to support their students. The public charter school community has asked for an additional $2.8 million to be allocated for facilities, a fraction of the $1.3 billion in capital funds allocated for DCPS.
Charter schools are forced annually to make exceedingly difficult decisions regarding every penny in their budgets. Often those choices come down to spending more money on students in the classroom or repairs to boilers, windows, or roofs. Frequently, it means a high performing charter must continue to push off the goal of expansion and the chance to serve the thousands of families desperate for a choice. The end result is children stuck on waiting lists that have existed for years.
The city, with this education budget, is once again making it abundantly clear that if you want your child to take advantage of a better opportunity at a charter, then they cease to have the same rights as students who attend the traditional public schools. This is more than just unfair. It’s immoral.
The District Council must do the right thing. Provide additional facilities funding for charter school students and recognize all children as equal.