What is the DCPS Budget Process, and How Does that Affect PTA Budget and Fundraising?
Janney’s school budget is the result of a year long iterative process that begins with the Chancellor hosting a public hearing announcing DCPS’s budget priorities for the coming school year. It is also combined with extensive community input from both city-wide and through feedback from individual school LSAT & Principals.
DCPS budget models are designed to be flexible to reflect each schools unique budget requirements. No two schools serve the exact same population. Even if schools have the same number of students, a variety of factors affect the allocation from which a school can build its budget. Schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods receive additional funding based on the needs of the student populations that they serve. This includes the addition of DCPS supplemental funding for the lowest 40 performing schools, At-Risk funding money, as well as Federal Title I and Title II funding that is designed to supplement the base funding that DCPS provides for every child. Indeed, this process is a reflection that some school community’s within our city are in need of much greater financial support than others.
DCPS uses a model to allocate staff and funds called the Comprehensive Staffing Model (CSM). It accounts for the following when calculating initial budget allocations each year:
In addition, other DCPS citywide initiatives require minimum staffing requirements for particular DCPS initiatives, for example the addition of mandatory World Language instruction at the elementary level. Based on the projected enrollment in the different grades, this impacts the number of teachers and teaching aides that are allocated funding. In addition, the number of children that have special education needs, ELL needs etc. reflect school support positions that are funded by DCPS. The school is also allocated positions to provide administrative and custodial support for the school. However, on some of these budget items a DCPS Principal has significant discretion in how he/she can target funds to the unique needs of a school. At Janney successive Principals have minimized funding of support positions to push greater resources into the classroom. This means that instead of having two Assistant Principals that a school our size has we have one, and instead of having four administrative support staff we have two.
As a school with very few ELL or special education or other at risk program students, what this means for Janney is that Janney’s funding is one of the lowest per head of any Elementary School in the city. It is also the largest Elementary School in the system. Over the years the Janney PTA has supplemented the DCPS budget. PTA funding supplies that would otherwise come from discretionary funds can now be used to pay for additional DCPS staff. In addition, the PTA provides additional staff, has supported arts programs; and in the past for many years, the PTA paid for a school librarian.
Managing the school budget through a period of a significant enrollment change at Janney that has seen the student population double has been particularly challenging. Each year the PTA has been called upon to fill the cracks in the DCPS budget, and it is the combined efforts of DCPS staff and the PTA through the DCPS budget and the PTA budget that has created the school that we have today.
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