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86 percent of kids in closing D.C. schools haven't re-enrolled

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Only 14 percent of the students who attend closing DC Public Schools have re-enrolled in the school system for the fall, schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson said Tuesday.

By comparison, roughly 40 percent of the school system's overall enrollment had submitted the paperwork to re-enroll in the 2013-2014 school year by May 30, according to a presentation Henderson gave at the D.C. Council on Tuesday. The school system predicts 55 percent of its 45,557 students will have submitted their enrollment forms by the end of June, compared with 54 percent of students at the same point last year, and 91 percent by the end of August.

It is not clear how many students are abandoning DCPS for public charter or private schools. Students tend to continue moving from school to school even after the new academic year starts.

D.C. superintendent to resign
D.C. State Superintendent of Education Hosanna Mahaley Jones is resigning, Mayor Vincent Gray's office announced Tuesday.
Mahaley Jones, who has held the position since 2011 and will step down July 26, attributed her decision to her husband's health.
"I appreciate the support that has been given to my family and to me as my husband's health continues to improve from the massive heart attack he recently suffered," she said. "As his recovery continues, we have decided to return home to Chicago to be near our family and continue the journey we started when we married 18 months ago."
Gray plans to name Assistant Superintendent of Post-Secondary and Career Education Emily Durso the interim state superintendent while he looks for Mahaley Jones' permanent replacement.
The agency that Mahaley Jones heads is responsible for overseeing DC Public Schools and the city's public charter schools. This year, that included investigating cheating on standardized tests and studying patterns of movement between school systems. - Rachel Baye

The school system plans to close 13 schools next month, displacing 2,168 students. Displaced students who choose to continue at their home schools -- rather than attend another DCPS school out of boundary or leave DCPS for a public charter or private school -- are slated for seats at more than a dozen other DCPS schools.

Of the receiving schools, nine have enrolled roughly 30 percent or less of their projected 2013-2014 student populations. A 10th school, Johnson Middle School ?-- which was taken off the list of closing schools in January -- has enrolled 18 students, less than 10 percent of its anticipated student body.

Since the schools are the students' "home" schools, meaning they are not required to apply or be selected for the school in a lottery process, they are not required to submit enrollment forms to their new schools by a specific deadline, so long as they are enrolled in time for school to start.

But at Tuesday's hearing, D.C. Councilman David Catania, chairman of the Education Committee, worried that the delayed enrollment would create "another rendezvous with instability" for the school system.

Schools are funded based on the number of students enrolled, so a significant difference between projected and actual enrollments could mean huge budget cuts. It also could determine whether the school qualifies for a full-time librarian or art teacher.

Members of the Council's Education Committee urged DCPS to do whatever it takes to make sure students are enrolled on time. According to Henderson, some principals and teachers have already begun canvassing neighborhoods.

"At the end of the day, the success of our consolidation effort will be judged largely by our ability to enroll students this upcoming year," Henderson said.

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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Rachel Baye

Staff Writer - Education
The Washington Examiner