Frequently Asked Questions 

FY14 School Budget


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What are the major improvement and changes to the FY14 School Budget?

The FY14 school budget development process allows us to focus our resources in a way that will move us closer to achieving the dramatic improvements under A Capital Commitment.

We are investing in our schools by …

  • Spending more money in the classroom. We are fully funding classrooms at all elementary schools and education campuses. And we are reducing multi-age, or split classes, to the extent possible.
  • Requiring all elementary and education campuses to offer world language in addition to art, music and physical education.
  • Providing funding for librarians at all schools with a special emphasis on our lowest performing schools.

We also are maintaining current teacher staffing at middle schools and high schools. A full description of our investments is below.

To strengthen the FY14 school budget process …

  • School budgets include all funds. We have attempted to include in the initial school budget allocations “all funds” that schools receive. In other words, school budget allocations will include all local funds, title funds and funds dedicated to eligible schools for School Improvement Grant funds (SIG), Race to the Top (RttT), Proving What’s Possible (PWP), Evening Credit Recovery (ECR), and Afterschool Programs (ASP).
  • Scheduling requirements dictate school budgets. Elementary schools and education campuses are subject to the new scheduling requirements issued by the Chief of Schools. School budgets support these requirements to ensure all students have access to required programs regardless of the school they attend.
  • Schools have reviewed enrollment projections. Consistent with past years, we have given all schools a chance to review and petition to change FY14 enrollment projections before we release school budget allocations so that approved changes can be incorporated into allocations. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has used DCPS’ audited enrollment of 45,557 as the basis for the FY14 enrollment funding for general education. As a result, we have very little flexibility to approve requests for enrollment increases beyond audited figures unless there has been a significant program change to support the request.

Schools have reviewed special education and bilingual staffing allocations. We also have given all schools a chance to review and discuss their FY14 allocations related to special education and ELL staff. Special education staff includes teachers, aides, behavior technicians, social workers and psychologists. Principals have had an opportunity to review and discuss proposed classroom expansions and staffing needs with program teams to ensure that students who need these resources will receive them and funding for these positions are not used to subsidize general education needs. It also allows us to revise allocations to reflect any changes approved by schools and program staff. The early review also will reduce the number of budget changes and ensure that allocations and our budget submission are accurate.

To ensure our school budgets better support schools…
 

  • We have invested in classroom teachers. We are fully funding classrooms at all elementary schools and education campuses. Moreover, we will reduce the number of multi-age classrooms unless a school chooses to maintain a split classroom. As a result, classroom teachers in elementary schools and education campuses are no longer “flexible” staffing positions that schools could repurpose for other positions.
  • All elementary schools and education campuses will offer world language. As a result of the scheduling requirements developed and promulgated by the Chief of Schools, we are requiring all elementary schools and education campuses to offer world language in addition to art, music and physical education.
  • We have increased allocations for art, music and physical education for our smallest schools. We have responded to concerns raised by elementary schools and education campuses that the traditional 0.5 allocations for art, music and physical education did not support their needs. We have increased those allocations to ensure even our smallest elementary schools and education campuses can offer art, music, physical education and world languages.
  • We have restored funding for library services. We are providing funding for library services at all schools. Schools will be required to provide library services.
  • We have invested in our education campuses by funding the elementary grades consistent with the increased staffing for classroom teachers, art, music, physical education, world language and library services. In addition, middle grades will continue to be funded at a 1:22 teacher to student ratio (as opposed to 1:25 at elementary schools and 1:24 at high schools). We expect that initial budget allocations will support the programming these schools need to offer and that we will no longer need a separate reserve for education campuses.
  • We have expanded staffing for International Baccalaureate and Schoolwide Enrichment Models.
  • We have continued funding for approved specialty schools (Ballou HS, McKinley Technology HS, Ellington School of the Arts, School Without Walls HS, and Banneker HS).
  • Provided funding for transportation for the Fillmore Arts program and schools that were identified as receiving transportation in the consolidation plan.

We will increase the Per-Pupil Funding Minimum to $8,739. No school will receive an amount less than $8,739 for each student. Notwithstanding the fact that the overall amount of local funding that DCPS is receiving will be reduced in FY14, this amount will reflect the 2 percent increase in per-pupil funding amount that the Mayor provided to DCPS and charter schools.

To support our lowest-performing schools…

  • We provided funding for Assistant Principals for Literacy and Reading Specialists at 11 low-performing schools.

We supported nine extended-day schools under Proving What’s Possible (PWP) at a cost of approximately $300,000 each, and spent more than $1 million to support "continuation grants" or funding to support the continuation of successful PWP programs from FY13 into FY14.

To balance our budget and fully fund classroom positions as well as art, music, physical education, world languages and library services …

  • We eliminated central funding for Catalyst schools. Schools may continue to support the Catalyst model through their school budget allocation.
  • We have eliminated the dedicated reserve for education campuses that we created in FY13 in response to concerns that schools were not offering world language and algebra. Funding for those offerings were included as part of the classroom teacher and specials allocation so that the additional funding is not necessary.
  • We have reduced funding for non-instructional staff positions. This will include allocations for business managers and clerks.
  • We have also eliminated “extra” funds that were available to schools for non-personnel spending (NPS) and custodial staffing. We have aligned the allocations for NPS and custodians with what schools actually spent or budgeted. For example, we historically allocated funding for RW-5 custodians even if a school was only staffed with an RW-3 custodian (lower average salary). The school was able to use the difference in funding for other expenditures. In FY14, a school will be allocated an RW-3 if, in fact, it staffed an RW-3 position in FY13.
  • We have reduced the funds allocated for NPS from 2.75 percent of a local school’s budget to 2.3 percent. The reduction reflects what schools currently budget for NPS and savings necessary to increase our investment in classroom teachers.
  • We have increased the threshold for small schools from 300 to 400.
  • Schools with fewer than 400 students will receive a 0.5 business manager (previously, the threshold was 300).
  • Schools with fewer than 400 students will not receive a clerk allocation. Schools with more than 400 students will receive a 1.0 FTE. In FY13, schools with fewer than 300 students did not receive a clerk allocation.

In FY13, DCPS allocated instructional coaches for Roosevelt STAY, Ballou STAY, CHOICE Academy and the Incarcerated Youth Program. In FY14, these schools will be served by 2 FTEs assigned centrally (not on school budgets).

To support our middle and high schools …

  • We maintained the current teacher staffing allocation. Middle schools will continue to be allocated at teacher to student ratio of 1:22. High schools will continue to be allocated at a teacher to student ratio of 1:24.
  • Middle and high schools will be subject to the reductions in clerks and business managers described above. Their custodial staffing also will be allocated based on the custodial staff they actually have in FY13.

Funding for social workers to support truancy is included in the school’s overall allocation of social workers (which schools received and reviewed the week of Feb. 14).

How did you calculate my school’s allocation?

Addressing the Needs of Individual Schools

One of the challenges in the budget development process is ensuring that the needs of individual schools are being met within the DCPS budget development process. No two schools serve the exact same population. 

Even if the schools have the same number of students, a variety of factors affect the allocation from which a school can build its budget.

Those factors include the number of special needs students a school serves or the number of early childhood programs it offers. If those numbers change, the budget allocation also changes.

DCPS accounts for the following when calculating initial school budget allocations:

  • Projected student enrollment;
  • Special education student population;
  • English Language Learner (ELL) student population;
  • Free and Reduced-Price Meals (FARM) forms submitted;
  • School configuration (Elementary School, K-8 Model School, Middle School, or High School);
  • Teacher-to-student ratios by grade configurations;
  • Specialty School Status;
  • Non-Personnel Spending (NPS); and
  • Per-pupil funding minimum.

What is the school’s projected student enrollment?

Projected student enrollment is the primary driver of your school’s initial budget allocation and is determined by analyzing the past five years of enrollment data by school to estimate enrollment for the upcoming school year. 

Projections also take into account more nontraditional factors that can significantly affect enrollment, such as school closures and spikes in the birth rate. 

The complete instructions for determining a projection can found in Appendix F of the DCPS FY14 Budget Development Guide.

Projections were delivered in February to principals for review. Once received, principals accepted or petitioned their projection based on evidence of enrollment. Petitions were granted based on the quality of evidence.

Schools that are projected to lose significant numbers of students are likely to see similar reductions to school allocations.

How do you allocate for the special education student population?

Staffing for the special education student population is determined by a review of all current Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Staffing for these needs is guided by the Office of Special Education (OSE) staffing ratios and also can be found in the DCPS FY14 Budget Guide. Funds are then allocated according to the given ratios. 

On Feb. 14, special education staffing projections were provided to all schools in preparation for final allocation release. During the budget-building process, schools are not able to repurpose funds designed to support special education needs.

How do you allocate for the English Language Learner (ELL) student population?

Similar to the special education student population, staffing needs for the English Language Learner (ELL) student population are determined by reviewing the number of ELL students currently enrolled and their language proficiency level (Level I through Level IV). The Office of Bilingual Education (OBE) staffing ratios guides staffing for ELL students. Funds are then allocated according to the given ratios that can be found in the FY14 Budget Development Guide.

For example, if a school has 22 students between Level I and Level IV in K-8, the school will receive funds for one full-time bilingual/ELL teacher.

On Feb. 14, ELL staffing projections were provided to all schools in preparation for final allocation release. During the budget-building process, schools are not able to repurpose funds designed to support ELL needs.

What affect does the number of Free and Reduced Meals (FARM) forms submitted have on the initial allocations?

The number of students at a school who submit their Free and Reduced-Price Meal (FARM) form has a direct impact on the amount of “Title funds” that a school receives in its initial budget allocation. “Title funds” refers to money provided by the U.S. Department of Education through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. These funds are divided into two categories: Title I and Title II. 

Title I funds are designed to provide support for students from low-income families and are subsequently tied to the successful submission of a completed FARM form. A small percentage of Title I funds are set aside to fund parent engagement initiatives at the school level. Title II funds are designed to support professional development for educators.

How do you account for school grade configuration?

The grade configuration of a school impacts the allocation. The grade configuration determines the appropriate Comprehensive Staffing Model designation. Elementary schools, for example, are run through the “Elementary” designation. Within that designation are specific rules that are unique to elementary schools and will affect the allocation. 

A good example is the teacher-to-student ratios at the preschool and pre-K levels, where the ratio is lower (fewer students to a teacher) than teacher-to-student ratios at the secondary grade levels. An elementary school with a high number of preschool and pre-K students will therefore receive a higher allocation than a school without preschool or pre-K (such as a middle school) given the need for more teachers to adhere to the given ratios at the preschool and pre-K levels.

How does overall enrollment affect allocations?

Your school’s enrollment size will impact your school allocation.  The cost of maintaining small schools and expanding early childhood programs often falls disproportionately on our larger schools.  The cost is reflected in the fact that our largest schools spend the least per student. Without any adjustment or “floor,” larger schools lose funding while they are gaining students and often outperforming other schools.

Without adjustment, we consistently provide larger schools less money than the per student amount DCPS receives from the city (through the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula). 

In FY 12, we introduced the Per Pupil Funding Minimum (PPFM), which ensures that all schools, regardless of size, receive a minimum funding amount per student.  We identified schools that were funded at less than the set PPFM amount and added funds to restore the per-pupil spending to the PPFM at those schools.  Even with the adjustment, these larger schools spend the least per student.

We have increased the PPFM amount to reflect any increase to the UPSFF amount.

What are the specialty schools, and how do you allocate for those?

Currently, five schools within DCPS receive “non-formula funds,” or specialty funds that promote the unique goals of their program. These funds were established via board resolutions prior to mayoral authority over the District’s public schools.

A good example is Ellington School for the Arts, which uses its non-formula funds to sustain a dual-curriculum that provides both general studies and arts-intensive classes. Non-formula funds are included in the initial school budget allocations for these programs.

 

Schools Receiving Specialty Funds Total Non-Formula
Ballou SHS $947,000
Banneker SHS $690,480
Ellington School of the Arts $2,289,744
McKinley Technology HS $1,680,585
School Without Wall SHS $495,436

 

What is the Per Pupil Funding Minimum?

Even with the school consolidations set for SY13-14, there are still many small schools in the district. For FY14, 62 schools have fewer than 400 students. The cost of maintaining lower-enrollment schools and expanding early childhood programs often falls disproportionately on schools with large enrollments. The cost is reflected in the fact that our largest schools spend the least per student. 

Without any adjustment, these larger schools lose funding while they are gaining overall enrollment. We identified all schools that were funding at less than $8,739 and added funds to restore their per-pupil spending to $8,739. 

The per-pupil funding minimum (PPFM) increased by 2 percent (2%) from FY13 to reflect the increase of 2 percent (2%) in the Uniform Per-Student Funding Formula. Even with the adjustment, these large-enrollment schools spend the least per student.

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