PCSB's annual budget oversight hearing held by the Council's Committee on Education allows the Board to discuss its FY15 budget.
Here are highlights from the Board's testimony:
"At the charter board, we are committed to creating a sector of outstanding public charter schools. We want families in our city to continue enjoying an ever-increasing diversity of quality choices for their children’s education."
"As you know, 44% of public school students in Washington, DC now attend charter schools. Despite the important role that charter schools play, funding for charter students still lags behind funding for DCPS students. We urge the Council and city leaders to address the funding and facilities inequities between charter schools and DCPS."
"We are proud to be one of the leading charter authorizers in the nation. And we are proud that many other authorizers and school districts across the country are adopting some of the creative and rigorous oversight strategies that we have pioneered."
"The proposed PCSB FY15 budget includes a provision in the Budget Support Act. This would increase – from one-half percent to one percent – the oversight fee that individual charter schools pay to PCSB. It would also eliminate the Council appropriation to PCSB that has historically exceeded $1 million per year."
"While most charter authorizers across the country have similar oversight fees, ours is one of the lowest. In fact, PCSB's fee is well below that of authorizers in other states, including Maryland, New York, Michigan, Illinois, California, Ohio, Louisiana and Florida. According to the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), the average oversight fee nationally is 2.6%. That is five times PCSB’s current fee and more than double the proposed fee. We believe this increase is important. And we thank you, Mr. Chairman, for including this increase in your proposed package of education legislation."
"As you know, our current oversight fee makes up 55% of our total budget. Increasing it to one-percent will eliminate the need for other sources of funding, such as the Council appropriation. That means the Council can use the PCSB appropriation for other uses. Moreover, Federal SOAR Act funding which has gone to PCSB can be used for the charter schools themselves."
"It’s true that public charter schools will pay more to PCSB. However, the impact will be minimal. That’s because the proposed FY15 budget would increase per-pupil funding for each school by at least two and one-half percent. This is an additional one-half percent beyond the 2% increase schools have typically received."
"PCSB’s oversight has changed a great deal in the last two and one-half years."
"We have continued to strengthen our accountability tools by using our Performance Management Framework on all grades and levels – from pre-kindergarten to adult education. When assessing whether a charter school should be renewed, we use systematic, data-driven reviews of the school. And we also use qualitative site reviews that examine how schools are meeting their goals and achieving their mission."
Read the full testimony here.
"We have developed new robust and reliable data systems. These help both the PCSB Board and this Council to conduct better oversight. We also use these data as powerful tools to improve our schools. For example, we now publish school-by-school expulsion and suspension rates. This sparked an important conversation – and caused many schools to change their policies and practices. As a result, expulsions have dropped by more than half, and suspensions dropped by a quarter since 2012."
"We are proud of these many improvements. But there is more to do – to strengthen the quality of our oversight, to serve DC students and families and to provide even greater transparency to the city about public charter schools."
"While we work hard to be efficient, there is inevitably a public cost. Our total budget amounts to a fraction of one percent of total education spending in the city. Given our role as the steward of nearly $700 million of taxpayer money, and the quality of education that has produced for nearly 40,000 DC students, we believe that is money well spent."