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Grosso to Hold a Hearing on State of School-Based Athletics in Public Schools and B21-601, “District of Columbia State Athletics Consolidation Act of 2016”

Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public hearing of the Committee on Education on the state of school-based athletics in public schools and B21-601, “District of Columbia State Athletics Consolidation Act of 2016.” The hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 in Room 123 of the John A. Wilson Building.  

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Grosso to Hold Roundtable on the Confirmations of Donald Soifer, Kamili Anderson, and Karma Cottman

Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public roundtable of the Committee on Education on PR21-722, Public Charter School Board Donald Soifer Confirmation Resolution of 2016, PR21-669, Board of Library Trustees Kamili Anderson Confirmation Resolution of 2016, and PR21-624, Board of Library Trustees Karma Cottman Confirmation Resolution of 2016. The roundtable will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 9, 2016 in Hearing Room 120 of the John A. Wilson Building.  

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Thoughts on DCPS FY17 Capital Budget

In 2008, D.C. released a new Master Facilities Plan for DCPS to prioritize renovations of schools, with an emphasis on improvements to the academic learning environments—i.e. classrooms. This was to allow for enhancements to all schools within 5 years, rather than pursuing more capital-intensive full modernizations, which would have required more than a decade to complete. However, over time, priorities shifted. Last year, the Committee on Education was surprised to learn that even after spending over a billion dollars since 2008, 24 schools still had not received any form of renovation.

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D.C. Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Passes First Vote with Grosso's Priorities

For Immediate Release
May 17, 2016
Contact: Keenan Austin
(202) 724-8105

D.C. Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Passes First Vote with Grosso's Priorities

Washington, D.C. -- Today, the D.C. Council took its first vote on the "Fiscal Year 2017 Local Budget Act of 2016", "Fiscal Year 2017 Federal Portion Budget Request Act of 2016", and "Fiscal Year Budget Support Act of 2017", which together comprise the fiscal year 2017 budget. Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) worked closely with his colleagues to ensure inclusion of his top priorities in the budget. Grosso made the following statement:

"I am proud of the hard work and collaboration that happened during the budget process on behalf of D.C. residents. My colleagues and I were tasked with balancing the city's many priorities. Through this arduous process, we produced a budget that is fair and puts the needs of the people at the forefront.
 
"Budgets are about choices and unfortunately we could not do everything that we wanted or that was asked of us. Nevertheless, I believe this budget will continue to move us forward and help ensure that we are putting students in the District of Columbia in the best position to learn and succeed. The Committee on Education's budget and policy recommendations that passed a couple of weeks ago were strong, reflecting the needs and issues raised during the performance and budget oversight hearing process, and I am delighted to see that the Committee of the Whole builds upon our efforts. For a second year, the Committee utilized an objective process that evaluated the status of DCPS facilities and ranked them for modernization based on 4,600 data points.
 
"I am especially grateful that my colleagues once again supported the Committee on Education's approach to depoliticize funding of our school modernizations. Our model, based on equity, student demand, community-centered schools, and transparency, prioritizes the schools in greatest of need. 

"Particularly important is inclusion in this budget of funding for the replacement and closing of D.C. General, a goal that I have championed for years. I commend Mayor Bowser for taking on this important and difficult task. While I acknowledge the great deal of work ahead, the changes that the Council made will strengthen the plan, while saving money and ensuring stability. I was glad to help identify capital funding necessary for D.C. to own the new shelters rather than lease them, while working with my colleagues to ensure that Coolidge High School will still complete its full renovation onthe Mayor's schedule."

Grosso's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Victories
Education
Under Grosso's leadership, the Education Committee approved a $3.9 billion budget improving public education, literacy, and career readiness for all District residents, including:

  • $1.8 million to increase the subsidy rate for child care providers;
  • $2.3 million to increase additional capacity for the Strong Start Early Intervention program that provides services to infants and toddlers with disabilities or developmental delays;
  • $1.6 million to continue the early literacy grant initiative targeting third grade reading success, which Grosso created in Fiscal Year 2016;
  • $11.9 million in capital funds for data systems infrastructure at OSSE, to improve data collection, transparency and coordination in the education sector;
  • $800,000 to restore the 21st Century Learning Grants at OSSE;
  • $200,000 for the establishment of a D.C. Oral History Project
  • $440 million in FY17 for school modernizations and other repairs for D.C. Public Schools;
  • $2.5 million for Show Up Stand Out, ACE, and PASS, programs that support student attendance and divert young people away from the criminal justice system;
  • $700,000 to increase the library collections budget including opening day collections for Palisades, West End, and Capitol View branch libraries;
  • $600,000 to support the success of the Books from Birth program at DC Public Library;
  • $1.2 million to expand the school-based health centers located in 7 schools throughout D.C.; and
  • $650,000 for the Department of Health to continue funding for the teen pregnancy prevention programming and teen peer sexual health educators.

Capital Improvement Plan for DC Public Schools
This year, the Committee on Education continued its objective approach to capital modernizations. The model was refined to include 4,600 data points throughout 10 categories to rank all 112 schools in the DCPS portfolio, and was based on the following principles:

  • Ensure that the Capital Improvement Plan reflects equity focused planning, aligns investments with student demand, upholds the values of community centered schools, and builds facilities to support quality educational programs;
  • Exercise greater discipline in managing the scope and budget for the projects; and
  • Increase transparency in the capital funding process, including delineating general stabilization fund categories such as roof repairs, boiler repairs, ADA compliance, and electrical upgrades to school specific projects.

As a result, the Committee approved a $440 million Capital Improvement Plan for FY17, enhancing the Mayor's plan by $13 million.

Arts
As a world class city, Grosso believes we must plan and develop strategies to sustain a thriving artistic and creative sector, which includes:

  • $4.6 million to increase Arts Building Communities to provide more grants to more artists and provide larger grants to organizations that currently apply for multiple grants in order to meet their need;
  • $1.45 million to conduct educational activities and outreach to youth and young adults;
  • $30,000 to increase training and employee development of new staff of the Commission on Arts & Humanities; and
  • $20,000 to increase legislative and grants management for the processing of additional grants by the Commission on Arts & Humanities.

Health and Human Services
As a member of the Committee on Health and Human Services, and recognizing the impact health and human services has on the success of students at school, Grosso is glad to see important investments in this sector including:

  • Over $100 million in capital funds to build smaller, more humane shelters for families experiencing homelessness, resulting in the closure of D.C. General, fostering more stability, and saving over $165 million in the process;
  • $2 million for additional Permanent Supportive Housing for individuals transitioning out of homelessness;
  • $2.5 million for additional Targeted Affordable Housing for individuals and families transitioning out of homelessness;
  • $4.9 million for youth development funding that will be issued in FY17 while the government and community create a new strategy to replace the D.C. Trust; and
  • $1.2 million for Produce Plus to support low income individuals eating healthy and fresh food.

To learn more about the Committee on Education's budget and priorities on the Committee on Education, please visit www.davidgrosso.og.
 
 
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Grosso to Hold a Roundtable on the Confirmations of Saba Bireda, Gregory McCarthy, and Cleve Mesidor

Councilmember David Grosso announces the scheduling of a public roundtable of the Committee on Education on PR21-723, Public Charter School Board Saba Bireda Confirmation Resolution of 2016, PR21-625, Board of Library Trustees Gregory McCarthy Confirmation Resolution of 2016, and PR21-626, Board of Library Trustees Cleve Mesidor Confirmation Resolution of 2016. The roundtable will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 19, 2016 in Hearing Room 123 of the John A. Wilson Building.  

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Grosso to Hold a Hearing on Lead Testing in Public Facilities

Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, and Councilmember Mary Cheh, chairperson of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, announce the scheduling of a joint public oversight hearing on lead testing in public facilities. The hearing will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 in Hearing Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building.  

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Grosso's FY17 Budget Unanimously Passed by Committee on Education

For Immediate Release

May 5, 2016

Contact: Keenan Austin  

(202) 724-8105

 

Grosso's FY17 Budget Unanimously Passed by Committee on Education

Washington, D.C. - Today the D.C. Council Committee on Education unanimously passed the budget formulated by Committee Chairperson David Grosso. The $2.3 billion in operating dollars and $1.6 billion in capital budget for the city's public education system includes public schools, public charter schools, and libraries, and next goes to the full Council for a vote. The budget builds upon the Executive's investment in the full modernizations of all schools. The Committee continues its work on an objective approach to capital funding, establishes a strategic communications protocol around environmental safety, including exhaustive water testing, and restores a critical investment in public libraries.

"I've often said that the education of our children does not happen exclusively in our schools. To best serve our children, every part of the government must be engaged in this process," said Grosso.

"This budget supports the full modernization of all DCPS schools with a priority on the schools that are in the greatest of need. Many of our schools have not seen full construction or modernization over the past few decades, while others enjoy second and third iterations of development. These inequities cannot exist if we are committed to each child receiving a quality education regardless of their zip code."

"It is the responsibility of our government to make sure that taxpayer dollars support our students fairly and equitably. Last year I introduced a tool to remove politics from the city's education budget, and this year we were able to improve it with even greater analysis and better data."

The Committee also makes a number of important policy recommendations including a periodic review of the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula and the publishing of statewide discipline guidelines and regulations. The Committee's budget also establishes a D. C. Oral History project to ensure that our unique history is properly preserved for generations to come. The budget includes the following enhancements:   

  • $220M new funding for DCPS capital modernizations
  • $22.5M in small capital improvement projects at DCPS
  • $1.8M to increase child care subsidy rates to align rates with licensing ratios
  • $1.6M for early childhood literacy interventions to improve 3rd grade reading outcomes
  • $3.9M for a data warehouse centralizing data from our school system
  • $2M for general library maintenance, as well as $350,000 for general collections
  • $450,000 for life-saving access to epinephrine in schools
  • $200,000 to support college access and college readiness programs
  • $1M for Healthy Tots subsidies for early childhood education centers
  • $727,000 for environmental literacy
  • $400,000 for collections and maintenance for the soon-to-be reopened West End, Capitol View and the Palisades libraries
  • $1.5 M to support the Cleveland Park Library project
  • $600,000 to provide additional funding support for the Books from Birth program
  • $200,000 for the establishment of a D.C. Oral History Project
  • Sends $107,871 to the Department of Human Services to increase 1.0 FTE for the PASS program which works with youth and families to improve school attendance and performance and prevent juvenile justice involvement

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Grosso: Dissolution of D.C. Trust is Both a Challenge and an Opportunity

For Immediate Release: 
April 28, 2016
Contact: Keenan Austin
(202) 724-8105
   

Grosso: Dissolution of D.C. Trust is Both a Challenge and an Opportunity

Washington, D.C.--Councilmember David Grosso, Chairperson of the Committee on Education, released the following statement regarding the dissolution of the D.C. Trust, formerly known as the Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, after today's budget oversight hearing with the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services:

"Today's hearing provided an important venue to discuss how to move forward in the aftermath of the D.C. Trust's dissolution. I appreciate the thoughtful insights brought by community members and Deputy Mayor Donald. I also understand the frustration and disappointment felt by members of our youth-serving community at how this has all unfolded. I look forward to working with my colleagues, the executive, and stakeholders in the community to chart the best course forward in a collaborative and transparent manner.

Since taking office I have questioned the efficacy of the D.C. Trust in the wake of historical mismanagement. While the Trust provided funding for many critical activities after school and during summer, I was not sure it was the best model for delivering this money. For this reason, I met regularly with the Trust and pressed the agency for answers, such as last fall when important youth-serving programs were facing cuts to their funding. With the dissolution of the Trust, it is imperative that we develop a new mechanism to fund youth programs, in a way that is stable, well-managed, and sufficiently resourced. I will also work with my colleagues to ensure that the $4.92M originally meant for the Trust remains in the FY17 budget for the same purpose, and that funding for summer programs, which the Trust will still administer, gets out as quickly as possible.

While this announcement presents many challenges, I also see it as a moment of opportunity. As Chairperson of the Committee on Education, I am optimistic that we can now completely re-envision what it means for the D.C. government to invest in and support our youth and children from a holistic, cross-agency perspective. The work of the Trust and the programs it funded are critical to the success of our city in general, and key to improving educational achievement in particular. I want our families, young people, and youth-serving organizations to feel reassured that although the D.C. Trust is closing, I will see to it that the government redoubles its commitment to supporting our students, inside and outside of the classroom."

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Choosing a House, Car or an Education: The Crisis of Student Loan Debt

By:  Arit Essien*

Move over buying a house or a new car.  The privilege of pursuing a higher education has now become one of the largest investments in a person’s lifetime.

While the advantages of higher education are well-noted, the looming student debt following college has become increasingly problematic, particularly for millennials eager to set foot towards pursuing the American dream of homeownership after school.

The statistics are worrisome.  Between 2002 and 2012, the National Center for Education Statistics reported a 40 percent increase in public school tuition, and a 28 percent increase at private schools—a rate four times faster than inflation.  In 2013, Forbes calculated outstanding student loan debt in the United States to be in excess of $1.2 trillion, which exceeds total credit card debt in the nation.  According to the New York Federal Reserve Bank, 37 percent of the 43 million people currently repaying these loans have experienced delinquency or default at some point. For millennials, this can translate into offset or delay of critical life events such as purchasing a home, marriage or the decision to have children. 

In the realm of financial obligations, student loans are in a league of their own.  Unlike traditional debt, student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, due in part to the bankruptcy reform bill of 2005.  Prior to passage of the bill, only federal student loans were exempted from discharge.  Additionally, for private loan recipients, options such as deferment, forbearance or income-based repayment are less frequently available.  Private loans traditionally also cannot be discharged upon death, so virtually there is no escape from repayment. 

Though hope of student loan reform may seem elusive, several proposals offer promise.  One proposed solution is to link state and federal aid to accountability metrics such as student graduation rates.  This could motivate schools receiving loan fees, despite the subsequent fate of their student, to play a greater role in the accountability of both the amount of money that students borrow and in ensuring that the overall benefits derived from the education is commensurate. Private loans however, which offer greater risks for borrowers, are overlooked in this approach.  

At-Large Councilmember David Grosso encourages student loan reform initiatives that will help borrowers and millennials keep money in their pockets for important life events and obligation. According to Grosso, “If borrowers have to expend a large portion of their income on student loan payment, it can be economically disadvantageous.  When former students default on their obligations, the burdens then shifts to taxpayers. We have to explore creative solutions that will afford lenders timely repayment, without stealing the American Dream from those who worked so hard to obtain it by pursuing their education.”

 

What are your solutions for improving the student loan structure?
Twitter: @cmdgrosso

*This post is part of an ongoing series of posts by Councilmember Grosso’s staff to support professional development. All posts are approved and endorsed by Councilmember Grosso.
    

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The Importance of Financial Literacy

By: Matthew Nolan*

As April is Financial Literacy Month, I wanted to explore its value, identify what it really means to me and highlight programs available to all D.C. residents.  Financial literacy is the knowledge of financial and economic matters. This is becoming more and more important to people around me. I am a junior in high school right now and money is a big concern for me and many of my classmates. This year we are breaking down our college options and a big part of what we are looking at is the huge price tag associated with many schools. I need to make sure that I assess all of my options before taking the step to college, but I cannot if I do not know how I will be able to pay for college, or what my financial situation will be after college. School Without Walls, and all other DCPS and D.C. charter schools have a D.C. College Access Program advisor, a person specifically employed to help students get through the financial obstacle of applying for college. This person helps people who may not be able to have afforded college find the way to pay for it so that all students have the opportunity to avail themselves of a higher education. With initiatives like college access, students in the public school system are becoming more financially aware and are being helped with the college process, it is a win-win situation.

Financial literacy is extremely important. Managing your money is essential to becoming a fully independent adult. As I look ahead to college, I recognize that preparing myself now is key because this is the beginning of my road to financial success in the long run. I need to learn the ins and outs of the financial world before I get to college and have to use all the information I have been provided. If we are not financially literate we will struggle with money management, which could potentially leave us stuck in debt from college and other big investments like buying a house or a car. These are important undertakings in life but lots of people are going into these financial transactions without the full knowledge needed. That is why we need to have more public and widely known programs that can teach the public how to be financially literate and how to use the money that they have to get the best opportunities.

Recognizing the importance of financial literacy, the District of Columbia established the D.C. Financial Literacy Council through the enactment of the Financial Literacy Council Establishment Act of 2008.  While this is an important step.  There is still more work to do. 
I am personally grateful to have a college access program advisor; however, in a report card released in 2015, the District of Columbia received an F for their efforts to produce financially literate high school graduates.  This was due in part to the fact that high school courses on personal finance are not required to be taken as a graduation requirement.  Additionally, there is no personal finance content in the social studies standards though economics is included as an elective. 

As the cost of living rises, the cost of a college education increases and wages remain stagnant, it is critical that we are equipping our residents, both young and old with the information they need to gain financial independence, invest wisely and prepare for their futures.

 *This post is part of an ongoing series of posts by Councilmember Grosso’s staff to support professional development. All posts are approved and endorsed by Councilmember Grosso.

 

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Grosso to Hold Hearing on Lead in Schools this June

For Immediate Release
April 22, 2016

Contact: Keenan Austin 
(202) 724-8105


Grosso to Hold Hearing on Lead in Schools this June

 

Washington, D.C. -- Councilmember David Grosso, Chairperson of the Committee on Education stated today that he will hold a joint hearing with the Committee on Transportation and the Environment on the testing of lead levels in all of D.C.'s traditional and charter public schools.  This hearing is a follow up to on-the-record questioning inquiries made by the Committee on Education to D.C. administrators during performance and budget oversight hearings regarding the testing of lead levels in schools. Representatives from D.C. Public Schools, the Public Charter School Board, D.C. Department of Energy, and the Department of General Services will be called to testify.

"It is well documented and widely reported that the impact of lead has grave consequences on a child's mental and physical development.  As government leaders, we have a responsibility to protect our most valuable resource --our children--by exhaustively testing all water in our schools. I have called on DCPS and PCSB leadership to oversee the completion of testing all waters sources and report back to the Committee in June about the status of their schools. Parents, teachers, our community and, most importantly, our young people deserve the assurance that their government is acting in their best interest."

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Grosso Introduces the Search Warrant Execution Accountability Act of 2016

 

For Immediate Release
April 5, 2016

Contact: Keenan Austin 
(202) 724-8105

 

Grosso Introduces the Search Warrant Execution Accountability Act of 2016

 

WASHINGTON, D.C.--At today's D.C. Council Legislative Meeting, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) introduced legislation to strengthen the District of Columbia's search warrant requirements and to require the District of Columbia to pay reasonable expenses to a property owner whose property is damaged or destroyed in a police search when the search is executed on the wrong property. 

"While I understand and recognize that officers, when executing a search warrant, may on occasion damage property in order to effectively perform their duties; I cannot turn a blind eye to the fact our residents are negatively impacted when the police carelessly execute search warrants at the wrong address," said Grosso.

"Many people in minority communities have, for good reason, become afraid of interacting with the police and when an unassuming resident is subjected to a police raid that was not executed on the appropriate property, it certainly does not instill confidence in police practices and further frightens our residents. As a government, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard and implementing this legislation will ensure that our residents have a clear course of action when they have faced an injustice."

Grosso's legislation proposes to:

  • Strengthen the requirements related to an application for a search warrant by ensuring that when a request is made for a search warrant to be executed at any hour of the day or night, the standard is based on a preponderance of the evidence, not the current probable cause standard.
  • Requires that when an application for a search warrant is made to search the purported residence of a suspect in an ongoing police investigation, the Court must be satisfied that the police have done their due diligence to determine that the suspect owns the premises or is likely to reside there.
  • Establishes a claims process to enable eligible property owners to receive the reasonable expenses required to replace property or restore property to the condition it was in prior to a search, if the execution of the search warrant resulted in damage or destruction to the property and MPD executed the search warrant on the wrong premises.
  • Defines "wrong premises" for the purpose of this act.

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Sign Up to Testify at the Education Committee budget hearings!

Mayor Bowser has released her FY2017 Proposed Budget and Financial Plan for public education. In a continued effort to engage the community and stakeholders in the budget-making process, Councilmember David Grosso, Chair of the Committee on Education, will hold a series of budget hearings throughout the month of April. If you would like to testify at any of these hearings, please fill out the online google form located here: http://bit.do/educationhearings.

Please note: The witness list will close 24 hours before the start of each hearing, so please sign up to testify in a timely manner. The Committee on Education will not add names to the list after it is closed. There will be no exceptions. For your convenience, a confirmation email with instructions will be emailed to all public witnesses at least 48 hours before the start of each hearing.

Budget Hearings

Tuesday, April 12 at 10:00am: Public Charter School Board (Room 123)

Tuesday, April 12 at 10:00am: State Board of Education (Room 123)

Wednesday, April 13 at 10:00am: District of Columbia Public Library (Room 120)

Wednesday, April 13 at 10:00am: Deputy Mayor for Education (Room 120)

Thursday, April 14 10:00 am: DCPS- Public Witnesses Only (Room 412)*

Thursday, April 14 5:00 pm: DCPS- Public Witnesses Only (Room 412)*

Monday, April 18 at 10:00am: Office of the State Superintendent for Education (Room 412)

Thursday, April 21 at 10:00am: DCPS- Government Witnesses Only (Room 412)

 *The DCPS budget hearing on Thursday, April 14, 2016 will have identical hearings at 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., so please only select one session.

If you are unable to testify at the hearing, written statements are encouraged and will be made a part of the official record. Written statements can be emailed to Jessica Giles, Committee Assistant, at jgiles@dccouncil.us or mailed to the Committee on Education, Council of the District of Columbia, Suite 116 of the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20004. The record typically closes 10 business days after each hearing.

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Grosso Applauds Ruling in Favor of Budget Autonomy

For Immediate Release: 
March 18, 2016
Contact: Keenan Austin
(202) 724-8105

Grosso Applauds Ruling in Favor of Budget Autonomy

Washington, D.C.--Today, Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) issued the following statement on the ruling by D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian F. Holeman in Council of the District of Columbia v. DeWitt:

"This is a great day for the people of the District of Columbia as the judicial system has upheld the legitimacy of our public referendum for budget autonomy. Today's ruling means that the Council and the Mayor can go forward with enacting the people's will by spending local tax dollars according to our own priorities, and without the interference of onerous and ideological riders placed on the federal budget. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and my constituents to push for full legislative autonomy and voting rights for all residents of the District of Columbia."

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Hearing on DCPS’ Capital Project Plan for Summer 2016

Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, and Councilmember Mary Cheh, chairperson of the Committee on Transportation and the Environment, announces the scheduling of a joint public oversight roundtable on the preparations by DC Public Schools (DCPS) and the Department of General Services (DGS) to conduct school modernization, stabilization, and small capital projects slated for Summer 2016. The hearing will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 in Hearing Room 500 of the John A. Wilson Building.  

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