For Immediate Release: 
January 10, 2017
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso starts new term with renewed focus on students

Washington, DC – At the first legislative meeting of Council Period 22, Councilmember David Grosso introduced legislation to increase the health and financial resources that will put youth in the District of Columbia in the best position to succeed.

“Education continues to be my top priority on the Council,” said Grosso, who returns as chairperson of the Committee on Education. “Ensuring our students’ well-being and providing financial equity to our students is vital to their educational achievement.”

First, Councilmember Grosso introduced the “Public School Health Services Amendment Act of 2017” to provide students access to a full-time registered nurse at their school.

Last year, the Department of Health attempted to implement a new model for school health services which would have resulted in school nurse service levels being reset to a minimum of 20 hours each week.

Many parents were alarmed at the idea that there would not always be a qualified health professional on site to assess and triage sick and injured children or to provide emergency care as needed. The Council subsequently delayed implementation of the program for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year.

The legislation introduced today would permanently increase the minimum hours per week of registered public school nurse services to 40 hours per week.

“For me, this is about giving our families piece of mind,” Grosso said. “Ensuring that there is always a qualified health professional at our public schools is a safety net.”

He also introduced the “Early Learning Equity in Funding Amendment Act of 2017” to infuse more equity into early learning funding.

Thousands of three- and four-year olds receive Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 educational services from community-based early childhood development centers and homes. Although these organizations, like D.C.’s local education agencies, teach a quality comprehensive curriculum to ensure kindergarten readiness and meet the District’s early learning and development standards, the District has not provided them with the same financial resources that we provide to DCPS and public charter schools.

The bill qualifies these organizations for additional funding by adding pre-kindergarten students receiving education services at community-based organizations in the definition of “at-risk”. It also establishes a pilot program to provide a facility allowance to high-quality child development centers and child development homes that meet certain criteria.

“Access to high-quality and affordable early care and learning is a growing concern for families in the District of Columbia, especially as the number of residents with young children continues to rise,” Grosso said. “More equitable funding invested in our youth at these early stages of development sets them up for later educational success.”