LEAP Funding Letter

We need your help!

By now, many have heard the bad news that due to unfunded mandates associated with DCPS’ new professional development program – “LEAP” -- Hearst Elementary lost funds necessary to retain our vital and talented guidance counselor. Please join us in an effort to push back on the dangerous precedent of unfunded mandates for any DC school, reinstate funding for our counselor, and tell DCPS leadership that preserving the guidance counselor position should not be an annual battle for our DC schools.  Join us in signing the letter below and inviting other DC residents to do the same!  



Dear Chancellor Henderson and D.C. Leaders,

As members of the Hearst Elementary School community, we are concerned about current DCPS budget allocations and the funding model for the new LEAP professional development program. As implemented, we believe the model amounts to an unfunded mandate for Hearst and other DCPS schools, with professional development costs being shifted from central office onto individual schools, without any increase in funds.

Through LEAP, Hearst is mandated to hire two full-time coaches to work with teachers (one math and one reading, at a cost of approximately $98,000 each). However, despite a slight increase in the number of students, our SY16-17 budget remained essentially flat. Without any additional funds, these positions had to come out of what we already have in place. At Hearst, in addition to a projected decrease in instructional time, our guidance counselor became the collateral damage in order to meet these new requirements.

At Hearst, where our students proudly represent every DC ward and a robust autism program, the guidance counselor is a unique and demanding position integral to supporting the social, emotional, and mental health needs of all students. Our counselor works pro-actively and directly with students, families, and staff on early intervention and prevention, social and community cohesion, crisis management, discipline, emotional support and counseling. Her efforts are coordinated with a social worker who would otherwise be overwhelmed. Our counselor is a veteran educator, confidante, resource, advocate, and pinch-hitter (e.g. backstopping the school nurse, attendance tracking) who knows everyone by name. Her support has made a huge difference in the life of our school and our kids’ ability to learn, focus, persevere, and succeed academically and socially. Eliminating this position will unravel how we support all students, place an overwhelming and unmanageable burden on a single social worker, and dramatically degrade our capacity to handle the challenges our students face on the road to academic success.

In addition to losing our guidance counselor, new requirements to redirect funding —at our school and across DC--will also have the net effect of decreasing instructional time and direct support. Hearst is committed to closing achievement gaps but LEAP’s “budget neutral” requirements will have the greatest impact on those most in need of additional support.  

We ask that the budgets of Hearst and other DCPS schools in the same unfortunate situation be increased to levels that fully fund new LEAP-mandated positions while preserving current staffing arrangements  (making necessary accommodations for fluctuations in enrollment, etc.).

Thank you for your consideration of this matter as we all work to help ensure that all District children receive the education they deserve.



Keira Ballantyne
Hearst ES parent
Ward 3
Jake McIntyre
Hearst ES parent
Ward 3
Brian Doyle
Hearst ES parent, Ward 3
Wilson Feeder Education Network Co-Chair
Eric Gravley
Hearst ES parent
Ward 3

Who's signing

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Showing 74 reactions

signed 2016-05-24 17:21:56 -0400
signed 2016-05-01 09:13:21 -0400
signed 2016-04-22 15:07:55 -0400
signed 2016-04-15 19:58:49 -0400
Every school should have a guidance counselor. How else are you going to help kids if you don’t have them? You need someone in the school to help students learn about themselves and grow into better human beings. A teacher has different traits than a counselor: teachers focus more on the education of the students rather than their emotional/every day issues. I don’t understand why this is even a petition when it should be necessary to keep a wonderful guidance counselor. DCPS system is truly not in good condition anymore, if they’re letting such good people go.
signed 2016-04-14 23:27:47 -0400
Enough good counselors in schools mean healthier, more stable kids who stay in school in classrooms where learning can really happen. That save the city money, much more than each counselors salary. Please don’t be short-sighted. Do right by our kids and our community.
signed 2016-04-14 22:41:37 -0400
Ms. Wendt is an invaluable resource to Hearst Elementary School staff, children and families. Please continue to fund this vital and mission critical guidance counselor position.
signed 2016-04-14 22:06:07 -0400
signed 2016-04-14 20:54:53 -0400
signed 2016-04-14 20:41:55 -0400
Am alumna of Hearst and very familiar with the program. Friend of students there. This is very important!
signed 2016-04-14 20:33:50 -0400
signed via 2016-04-14 20:21:03 -0400
signed 2016-04-14 20:06:40 -0400
signed 2016-04-14 19:07:16 -0400
posted about this on Facebook 2016-04-14 16:41:29 -0400
DC Friends - Sign the petition: LEAP Funding Letter
signed 2016-04-14 16:40:20 -0400
Washington, DC 20011
signed 2016-04-14 16:33:51 -0400
signed 2016-04-14 15:53:15 -0400
Guidance counselors are essential for young children establishing their identities as well as their self-confidence and worth.
posted about this on Facebook 2016-04-14 11:41:40 -0400
Sign the petition: LEAP Funding Letter
@johnrpoirier tweeted link to this page. 2016-04-14 11:41:39 -0400
Sign the petition: LEAP Funding Letter http://www.hearstes.org/leap?recruiter_id=148
signed 2016-04-14 11:41:19 -0400
signed 2016-04-14 11:38:39 -0400
signed 2016-04-14 11:32:09 -0400
Is there anything that can be done to keep Ms. Wendt at the school? She is wonderful and it would be a shame to see her go.
signed 2016-04-14 11:31:19 -0400
signed 2016-04-14 07:33:19 -0400
The role Ms. Wendt plays at Hearst is instrumental to the well-being of its students. She has shown strong commitment to early intervention, inclusion, and providing academic, emotional, and behavioral support to all students. Losing our guidance counselor would be a tremendous loss. Please reconsider your funding strategy.
signed 2016-04-14 07:00:35 -0400
signed via 2016-04-13 22:58:50 -0400
signed 2016-04-13 22:58:06 -0400
Washington, DC, 20008
signed 2016-04-13 22:45:18 -0400
Hearst is losing one of its finest employees who makes a huge difference to my daughter on a daily basis because of this unfunded mandate. If DCPS wants to require LEAP then it should specify funds for it.
signed 2016-04-13 21:55:39 -0400
signed 2016-04-13 21:46:53 -0400
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