Chelsea Coffin’s Education Testimony at DC Council Budget Oversight Hearing for FY2022


On June 3, 2021, Chelsea Coffin, director of the DC Policy Center’s Education Policy Initiative, testified at the Committee of the Whole Education public watch hearing, explaining what the budget means for students designated at risk. You can read his testimonial below or download a PDF version here.

Good morning, President Mendelson and members of the Committee of the Whole. My name is Chelsea Coffin and I am the Director of the Education Policy Initiative at the DC Policy Center, where our educational research focuses on how schools connect to a larger dynamic in the District of Columbia.

Last week, I testified at the joint public oversight hearing of the Special Committee on COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery on why we should keep an eye on high school students in particular this year. future. Even before the pandemic, the transition from high school to college or career could be difficult, and some available information shows high school students faced more extreme challenges compared to younger students in the past year – and they have fewer years to make up the difference before graduation. I will begin my testimony today by commending the commitments made to high school students in the FY 22 budget, including an advanced technical center for high demand areas, on-the-job learning opportunities, internships, an Expanded Youth Summer Employment Program (SYEP), additional funding for high school students who are over age or learning English, and post-high school transition supports ( Tuition Fee Assistance, Career Coaches and College Rising Program). These resources for high school students present a crucial opportunity to better connect with college and careers in the years to come.

I will now move my testimony on what the FY22 budget means for DC students who are designated at risk. Despite great efforts, distance learning was not as effective as in-person learning for most students (as of fall 2020), and distance learning was probably even more difficult for designated students. as at risk.[1] This budget includes an increase in risk weight from 0.226 to 0.24 (an increase of 0.014), resulting in an increase of $ 261 per student identified as at risk. There is also a new additional weighting of 0.06 for high school students who are over the required age (providing $ 703 in additional funding for 10% of at-risk students).

However, the overall weight of students identified as at risk at 0.24 remains well below the weight of 0.37 recommended in the fit study. This means that students designated as at risk receive less funding per student from local resources than they need when they could benefit from more resources to recover from the academic and socio-emotional impact of COVID-19. . At the same time, DC is receiving $ 600 million in federal funding over three distributions of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Assistance (ESSER) funds to be spent by September 2024, with allocations from the federal government based on formulas in Title I to better target students living in low-income households.

DC schools will receive $ 540 million from this federal ESSER funding. This is more than four times the spending on at-risk students in the FY22 budget ($ 122 million), providing the opportunity to double funding for at-risk students, or at least close the funding gap. to reach the weighting of 0.37. Budget FY22 offers many uses of federal funding for educational purposes, including tutoring, facility grants, school mental health expansion, micro-transit options, and general acceleration activities. of learning. At this time, it is not clear how these expenses will be adapted to the needs of students designated at risk. For each city-wide activity and each LEA that receives these funds, there should be an estimate of the percentage of students designated as at-risk who have been affected so that federal funds disproportionately follow students designated as at risk who benefit the most. .

Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I am happy to answer all of your questions.

Featured photo: Ted Eytan (The source)

[1] EmpowerK12. 2020. “Impact of COVID-19 on Student Success and Academic Growth in DC. »Available at:

DC Policy Center Fellows are freelance writers and we welcome the expression of a variety of perspectives. The views of our fellows, published here or elsewhere, do not reflect the views of the DC Policy Center.


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