DC OST Coalition Letter

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May 22, 2024
Advocacy Letter

Dear Deputy Mayor Kihn, Chancellor Ferebee, and Chairman Mendelson:

We are writing to you as concerned members of the DC Out-of-School-Time (OST) Coalition to underscore the importance of DCPS continuing to absorb security costs for DCPS site-based afterschool partners in FY25. Passing these costs onto nonprofit, community-based providers would not only end a longstanding practice and renege on Deputy Mayor Kihn’s public commitment to funding these costs at the April 5, 2024 budget hearing, but would also be financially devastating for us as program providers. Adding security costs to our budgets will force us to reduce the number of youth our programs can serve, or end partnerships altogether, increasing the already significant gaps in access to OST activities across the District.

We implore DCPS, the office of the DME, and the DC Council to work together productively and transparently in the interests of District students and school safety to reconcile funding disputes in the FY25 budget. It is our understanding that security guard personnel costs for OST activity hours (afterschool and summer cumulatively) make up only $1 million of the larger DCPS security contracting budget. The final DCPS budget must continue to include these costs without creating ripple effects that undermine other educational and school safety needs.

We are concerned by the competing narratives and lack of spending transparency for something as important as the safety of our young people. Similarly, we are concerned about the prospect of losing funding for afterschool meals for our program participants. We seek to be your partners in protecting and feeding DCPS students while  providing the continuum of learning and child and youth development services that support DCPS students’ physical and mental wellbeing. We provide safe, nurturing spaces for students to receive extended learning, mentoring, skill building, and enrichment outside the school day. To effectively partner, we request that the DME and DCPS provide clear and complete information about actual security personnel hours and contract spending levels from FY23 and FY24 across all funding sources, along with details about how the FY25 budget compares based on projected personnel hours. We also request the Committee of the Whole provide an explanation for reducing DCPS’s security contract budget to below the contractual maximum spending level for FY25. We do not want to be caught in the middle of budget disputes. We want solutions so we can continue serving young people who rely on us for free or low-cost afterschool programming.

While a $1 million security cost may seem small compared to the District’s overall budget, if passed off to community-based nonprofit OST providers, the per-organization cost could set programs back by at least $17,000 per program site ($48/hr x 2 hours/day x 180 days/year if community providers are forced to pay for coverage of just one security guard). That is equivalent to losing one staff member who works directly with anywhere from 10 to 30 youth. Across all OST programs that currently operate at DCPS sites, this could mean reducing programming opportunities for approximately 3,000 youth, and possibly significantly more. If we must also be responsible for afterschool meal expenses for our youth, our seat capacity would suffer significantly and our ability to continue offering free programming would be further limited.

We appreciate your ongoing support of OST opportunities and commitment to public transparency in service of District youth. We look forward to resolving this issue as soon as possible. Our coalition is available to answer any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

DC OST Coalition Members

826DC

After-School All-Stars DC

Asian American LEAD

Children & Charity International

College Tribe

DC SCORES

DC Strings Workshop

Do The Write Thing of DC

Girls on the Run – DC

Global Kids

Healthy Babies Project Inc.

Higher Achievement

Jubilee Housing Inc.

Kid Power, Inc.

Lana Learn

Latin American Youth Center

Life Pieces To Masterpieces

Mikva Challenge DC

One World Education

Project Create

Sitar Arts Center

The Fishing School

TRAPP Stars Inc.

Washington Urban Debate League

Youth Entrepreneur Institute