The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of Jackson-Reed High School

The Beacon

$750
$1500
Contributed
Our Goal

Please help us cover our annual website operations cost! The Jackson-Reed Beacon is a fully independent, student run newspaper that receives all of its operational costs from generous donations.

Changes in school budget force 30 staff cuts

Despite a budget increase, Jackson-Reed is cutting more than 30 staff positions next school year. Reductions include eight full-time teachers, social-emotional and classroom support, administrative officers, and custodial staff. 

Staff members were notified of their status for next school year throughout May.

“Schools across the board are losing a lot of teachers because of budgets,” said Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) building representative Rebecca Bradshaw-Smith.

Principal Sah Brown said he is confident that JR can operate smoothly with less staff, especially because many positions were unfilled this year. But he also said staff losses will be felt. 

“The biggest challenge I see is anytime you lose and reduce individuals, you lose the relationships that exist, not just with students but with colleagues,” Brown said. “The technical aspects of the work will continue. But the relationship piece is important and can’t be replaced.” 

JR’s 2024-25 budget increased by nearly $750,000 and the per-pupil cost designation by DCPS went up, to $15,319 from $13,165. 

However, a federal program that gave public schools supplemental funds during the COVID-19 pandemic has expired. In addition, salaries for teachers have gone up in recent years under existing contracts, pinching school budgets further. This salary increase is unrelated to ongoing WTU contract negotiations. 

JR also has an anticipated student body decrease of 260, from 2,192 to 1,932, due to the opening of MacArthur High School. These factors combined have contributed to 32.5 staffing positions being cut from the current roster of just over 250. 

DCPS released its initial budget allocation in early February. Brown then met with JR’s Local School Advisory Team (LSAT) and student groups to receive budget-related community feedback. The budget was altered based on needs expressed by those groups and sent back to DCPS. The budget for each school was then confirmed in a DC Council hearing in April.

“One of the recommendations that I received [from the LSAT] was to preserve the teachers, as many as possible,” Brown said. “My initial proposed budget had [fewer] teachers in it, but after feedback from the LSAT, I added back more teaching positions and made cuts in other areas.” 

JR assembled a staff committee to suggest who should be let go. “We made recommendations [on who to let go] as a committee. Then, we handed [them in] to administration,” said Bradshaw-Smith, who was on the committee. The administration then judged those choices based on confidential criteria.

The cuts include seven social-emotional support staff. Brown cited that a national mental health crisis has placed greater demand in the healthcare profession. However, “this next year, with the reduced enrollment and the same level of staffing, we’ll be able to address” mental health at JR, he said.

Six special-education positions also will be eliminated. DCPS requires special education staffing numbers to correspond directly to the projected special education student population within a given school. 

This year at JR, there are two Communication and Education Support (CES) classrooms, which attract students with special learning needs from across DC according to their Individualized Education Program. One DCPS-wide CES classroom will be relocated next year. 

Additionally, vacancies from staff who are leaving the school or retiring will mostly not be filled.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Beacon
$750
$1500
Contributed
Our Goal

Please help us cover our annual operations cost! Donations over $35 dollars are eligible to be added to our subscriber newsletter, which provides special insights into The Beacon's production cycle and regular updates from our staff!

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Rohini Kieffer
Rohini Kieffer, Editor-in-Chief
  • 2021-22: Junior Editor
  • 2022-23: Section Copy Editor
  • 2023-24: Features Editor
Dani Wallace, Managing Editor
Dani is one of the Beacon’s superb Section Copy Editors. She prides herself in her ability to always get the contact to quote check and finding the next best topic to write about. If she’s not doing her Beacon duties, she’s probably playing volleyball somewhere, using something that may or may not be an actual ball.
  • 2022-23: Section Copy Editor
  • 2023-24: Features Editor
Edith Corrigan Conaty
Edith Corrigan Conaty, Managing Editor
Donate to The Beacon
$750
$1500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

Keep comments respectful and on-topic. Hate speech, profanity, and sharing personal information will not be tolerated.
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *