Charter School Threatened by Budget Cut

Students at Maya Angelou Public Charter School’s Shaw campus have lost their afterschool tutoring program as a direct result of D.C. budget cuts.

For the students at Maya Angelou Public Charter School’s Shaw [MAPCS] campus, class will be in session until late June. However, due to a proposed $24 million budget cut by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, the school’s evening tutoring program ended two weeks ago. Now, the faculty members, volunteers, and even students, are expressing concern about the need to save the program.

“If tutoring ends, students will have to finish their work at home,” Calvin Lockhart, a student at MAPCS, said. “And if they students like me, they won’t be doing work at home.”

Jonathan Houston, a sophomore at Howard University, takes time out twice a week to volunteer at MAPCS. “I think that the students actually look up to us,” Houston said.

“I think that once we stop going to tutoring, then the students are really going to see no point in staying for tutoring.”

In the proposed cut, the charter schools will get an “allowance” of $2,341 per student. Currently, the students are allotted $3,109. In comparison, the students attending DC public schools will receive $5,248 after the proposed budget cut.

In addition to this, if the budget is indeed approved, representatives from charter schools like MAPCS have warned officials that there will be inevitable staff cuts, and possibly school closures.

However, some of the MAPCS student body expresses other concerns.

“I don’t think its going to matter because students don’t really work with their tutors anyway,” MAPCS student Jarrell Hulley said. “Students don’t care.”

Whether students care or not, the issue is much deeper than just the dissolving of an afterschool tutoring program. Last month, the homes of students attending MAPCS were sent a newsletter titled “Operation Restore Funding.”

In the newsletter, the contact information for 13 city officials’ was given, and on the back, there was sample emails that parents, taxpayers, and voters could use.

“I know nothing about reductions in tutoring programs in Charter schools,” Vincent Gray, Chair of the City Council, said. Gray’s name and contact information appears first on the list.

“If the program is run by volunteers, what would the cut involve anyway,” Gray continued.

Gillian Moise, the Evening Programs director at MAPCS, says it is not a matter of volunteers but of paid faculty members who are willing to stay until 7:15 p.m. on the three days of tutoring throughout the week.

“I don’t have all the answers right now,” Moise said as far as the current status of the budget cut is concerned.