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Curb Extensions Act of 2019

Curb Extensions Act of 2019

Introduced: May 7, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, and Charles Allen

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To require the installation of curb extensions to reduce pedestrian crossing distances when the District performs reconstructions and repavings of roadways.

Councilmember Grosso’s Introduction Statement

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

All road users, and especially pedestrians, are incredibly vulnerable at intersections.

Unfortunately, we are constantly reminded of this fact, as many of the pedestrians killed recently on our streets were in a crosswalk, like Monica Adams Carlson and Cora Louise Adam just a few blocks away from here on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The standard now is for pedestrians to cross the parking lanes before they have a chance to cross the general travel lanes.

This makes them less visible to cars, extends the crossing time, and makes it too easy for drivers to park in areas that block crosswalks.

Today, along with my colleagues Brianne Nadeau, Elissa Silverman, Charles Allen, Brandon Todd, and Anita Bonds, I am introducing the Curb Extensions Act of 2019 to require the District Department of Transportation to install curb extensions whenever it performs road reconstruction or repavement work.

Curb extensions prioritize pedestrian safety by raising crosswalks to sidewalk level and shortening crossing distances. They also provide an opportunity to beautify our streets and expand our urban tree canopy with additional space for greenery.

Further, curb extensions narrow the turning radius for vehicles, forcing cars to slow down at intersections and effectively making our streets and sidewalks safer for all modes of transportation, not just pedestrians.

We need to change the culture at DDOT in order to achieve our Vision Zero goals of eliminating serious injuries and deaths on our roads. This will never happen as long as we, by default, continually rebuild our dangerous intersections in their same unsafe configurations.

Thank you and I welcome any co-sponsors.

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Councilmember Grosso introduces legislation to improve pedestrian safety with extended curbs

For Immediate Release: 
May 7, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Councilmember Grosso introduces legislation to improve pedestrian safety with extended curbs

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso today introduced legislation that would increase pedestrian safety at crosswalks by requiring curb extensions as part of any future District Department of Transportation road improvements.

“All road users, especially pedestrians, are incredibly vulnerable at intersections,” Grosso said. “Unfortunately, we are reminded of this too often with the deaths of pedestrians in crosswalks, like Monica Adams Carlson and Cora Louise Adams last year just a few blocks away from here on Pennsylvania Avenue.”

The Curb Extensions Act of 2019 would target intersections for improvement by forcing DDOT to extend the curbs whenever it performs road reconstruction or repaving work.

Curb extensions lengthen the curb to align with parking lanes and reduce the amount of time pedestrians spend in the crosswalk.

“Curb extensions make pedestrians safer. Pedestrians are more visible to drivers, crossing times are shortened, and vehicles are forced to slow down at intersections,” said Grosso. “As an added benefit, it also expands opportunities to beautify our streets and expand our urban tree canopy with additional greenery.”

“Meeting the District of Columbia’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating serious injuries and deaths on our roads means shifting the culture of DDOT to focus on the safety of all modes of transportation, not just cars,” Grosso said. “This will never happen as long as we continually rebuild our dangerous intersections in their same, unsafe configurations.”

Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, and Charles Allen joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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Education Committee increases investments in students and fully funds discipline, school safety laws in budget recommendations

For Immediate Release: 
May 2, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Education Committee increases investments in students and fully funds discipline, school safety laws in budget recommendations

Washington, D.C. – The Committee on Education, under the leadership of Councilmember David Grosso, unanimously approved budget and policy recommendations that increase per student and at-risk funding over the mayor’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2020.

“Putting our students in the best position to succeed requires a greater commitment to funding education. Despite her contention that it represents ‘historic’ investments, the mayor proposed a budget that does not keep up with the rising costs of educating our students,” Grosso said. “The Committee on Education, however, was able to work with several other committees to increase per student and at-risk funding to better support our students needs and set them up for academic success.”

This increased investment allows for full implementation of three laws that Grosso introduced and the Council passed unanimously in 2018: the Student Fair Access to School Act, the School Safety Omnibus Act, and the Students in the Care of D.C. Coordinating Committee Act.

“I’m proud of the budget we passed today. It fully invests in the Committee on Education’s efforts over the past two years to reduce exclusionary discipline, combat sexual assault and abuse in our schools, and improve the academic success of our most vulnerable students,” Grosso said.

Despite the increased resources for D.C. schools, Grosso believes greater investments are necessary to make up for where the mayor’s budget falls short.

“The budget recommendations approved today are only the beginning. I will work with Chairman Mendelson and my colleagues as the budget makes its way through the Committee of the Whole and the full Council to further bolster the resources going to our schools.”

The Committee on Education received an unprecedented amount of public input during the performance and budget oversight process this year. Since the mayor released her FY2020 budget proposal in late March, the committee held approximately 23 hours of hearings, heard from nearly 300 witnesses and received over 1,000 pages of written testimony.

“I want to thank every single member of the public for engaging with the Committee on Education on a multitude of funding issues ranging from school buildings to mental health supports to the per student funding formula,” Grosso said. “Your involvement holds us accountable and ensures that we make fiscally responsible and equitable decisions for our students and schools.”

Investment Highlights

  • Protects students’ right to an education - Fully funds implementation of the Student Fair Access to School Act with an increase in at-risk funding to support schools in addressing the root causes of behavioral issues, provide mental health supports to our students, and reduce the use of exclusionary discipline practices. Made possible with support from Councilmembers Vincent Gray and Kenyan McDuffie.

  • Addresses and prevents sexual assault and abuse in schools - Fully funds the School Safety Omnibus Act to ensure schools are working to prevent and properly handle cases of sexual assault and abuse through better policies, improved hiring practices, and age-appropriate consent education. Made possible with support from Councilmembers Elissa Silverman, Charles Allen, and Brandon Todd.

  • Improves educational outcomes for our most vulnerable youth - Fully funds the creation of a multi-stakeholder Students in the Care of the District of Columbia Committee to identify challenges and resolve issues that students in detainment, commitment, incarceration, and foster care face in achieving academic success. Made possible with support from Councilmember Trayon White.

  • Promotes safe passage to increase student attendance - Transferred funds to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment for the District Department of Transportation to coordinate with schools and communities to plan safe routes to and from school for all modes of travel.

  • Invests in a world-class central library on opening day - Provides additional investments in necessary technology and maintenance to ensure that the newly modernized Martin Luther King, Jr. Central Library is fully functional when it re-opens in 2020.

Policy Recommendation Highlights

  • Directs D.C. Public Schools to research and identify alternatives to the current school budgeting method to create a model that gives schools the opportunity to thrive and address their specific needs.

  • Recommends that DCPS seek public input on and fast-track its plan to support and expand dual language immersion programs.

  • Directs the Office of the State Superintendent for Education implement the Healthy Schools Act to ensure comprehensive HIV education in all public schools, following a report that young people aged 13 to 29 made up the highest percentage of new HIV cases in a decade.

  • Directs OSSE to support the District of Columbia Education Research Collaborative by improving access to MySchoolDC and Common Lottery data.

  • Recommends that the Deputy Mayor for Education focus on improving student attendance by collaborating with DDOT to analyze student transportation times, options, and routes for students who regularly miss school.

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Comment

Grosso and five other Councilmembers request DOC comply with exceptions for employees in medical marijuana programs

On April 25, Councilmember David Grosso, joined by Councilmembers Robert White, Brianne Nadeau, Charles Allen, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White, sent a letter to Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue and Department of Corrections Director Quincy Booth requesting that the DOC immediately comply with instructions that allow for employment-related drug testing exceptions for enrollees in medical marijuana programs.

“We are writing out of deep concern for the Department of Corrections’ current practices in regard to employees, or candidates for employment, who are participants in the District of Columbia, or another state’s medical marijuana program. We ask that you immediately bring the DOC into compliance with Department of Human Resources District Personnel Manual Instruction No. 4-34,” they wrote.

The D.C. Department of Human Resources specifically sets out an exception for government employees enrolled in medical marijuana programs in DPM Instruction No. 4-34, similar to exceptions for other prescription drugs.

“…[O]ur concern is not about recreational use of marijuana but rather medical use, a topic that the District of Columbia government experts in human resources have considered,” the councilmembers wrote. “The result of that consideration is DPM instruction No. 4-34, and the DOC should follow that expert advice, or have a very compelling reason for deviating from it.”

The councilmembers also requested that DOC reverse any adverse personnel actions toward employees or candidates for employment which were based solely on their status as a patient enrolled in a medical marijuana program and a positive THC test.

The letter sent yesterday represents the latest inquiry on the topic after Director Booth failed to explain the DOC’s policies in his January response to a letter Councilmember Grosso sent in November 2018 asking whether or not DOC was taking into account employees’ enrollment in medical marijuana programs as part of such testing.

“If an employee, for example, is undergoing treatment for cancer and is prescribed medical marijuana by a doctor to help with the side effects of treatment, it seems unreasonable and inappropriate that the employee would be penalized, or even subject to termination, because of seeking such medical care,” Grosso wrote in November.

Director Booth laid out DOC’s practices and procedures and its adherence to District law. However, the response sidestepped a question specifically aimed at how DOC treats employees enrolled in the medical marijuana program, instead focusing on how DOC complies, as other D.C. agencies do, with the impact of Initiative 71.

Initiative 71 dealt with recreational, not medical, marijuana.

Read Councilmember Grosso’s letter and DOC’s responses below.

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Pending racial equity legislation must include requirements for D.C. Council

For Immediate Release: 
April 25, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Pending racial equity legislation must include requirements for D.C. Council

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso, a member of the Committee on Government Operations, on today’s committee hearing on B23-38, the Racial Equity Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2019:

“In recent years, the word ‘equity’ has become trendy—but it is so much more than a buzzword. It is a recognition that we do not all start at the same place. Equity recognizes that persistent disparities faced by those who start furthest behind or face additional barriers will not be solved without targeting opportunities, resources, and supports to those individuals.

“We must directly name and work to address racial disparities so that one's racial identity is not a predictor of their educational, health, economic or other outcomes. As chairperson of the Committee on Education for the past 4 years, I have seen how explicit and implicit biases have affected our students of color and their academic success. The achievement gap between these students and their white peers has persisted and we will not narrow it until we fully approach our policies through an equity framework. Not only in education but in housing, in our health system, in workforce development and business—it is imperative that we do more to recognize the historical legacy and persistence of racist systems, policies and institutions.

“I want to thank Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie for his leadership on and commitment to addressing racial equity issues. Earlier this year I was excited to participate in a symposium he convened on this topic and later enthusiastically joined him as a co-introducer of the Racial Equity Achieves Results Amendment Act of 2019, which is receiving a public hearing before the Committee on Government Operations today. The District of Columbia Government is long overdue for this conversation and even longer overdue for action.

“The changes the bill makes to executive branch operations are necessary. Requiring that employees of the Mayor and her agencies undergo racial equity training and that agencies apply a racial equity framework when implementing policies and assessing performance will create a government that better serves the needs of all its constituents.

"Part of our government is the Council, which is not covered under the requirements included in this legislation. As a co-equal branch of government, the Council’s actions have a profound impact on our residents. Our work to fund District services through the annual budget, hold agencies accountable for meeting residents’ needs, and propose and debate solutions to our constituents’ concerns should also be subjected to the same standards we seek to impose on the executive. I fear it will be too easy to reverse, intentionally or unintentionally, the positive outcomes this legislation would produce if we do not implement our own racial equity framework and require councilmembers and staff to participate in ongoing racial equity training.

“The work certainly will not be easy but it is absolutely necessary. I look forward to working with my colleagues as we improve and advance this legislation to bring about meaningful change to how our government serves our residents.”

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Statement of Councilmember David Grosso on pedestrian and cyclist deaths over the weekend

For Immediate Release: 
April 23, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Statement of Councilmember David Grosso on pedestrian and cyclist deaths over the weekend

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso on the deaths that occurred on the District of Columbia’s streets over the past weekend:

“This weekend two more people were killed on our streets by speeding cars: Dave Salovesh, while biking on Florida Avenue NE, and Abdul Seck, while walking in Anacostia. I am deeply saddened by these deaths, and my heart goes out to their families and friends. But as an elected official, my thoughts focus on how our local government could better prevent these deaths.

“Mr. Seck was visiting our city from New York, and, like fellow tourists Monica Adams Carlson and Cora Louise Adams who were killed on our streets in December, was a pedestrian. Mr. Salovesh was a long-time advocate for safe streets in our city, and I encountered him often over the years. He was passionate and persistent, but the Mayor and the District Department of Transportation have not listened to his pleas.

“The simple fact is cars are killing us. Since I joined the Council in 2013, we have passed laws and budgets that we believed gave DDOT the necessary tools to create a multimodal transportation network with safe sidewalks and protected bike lanes. The failure to actually complete these improvements is a result of many missed opportunities and deadlines. It’s no surprise to see we are no closer to our Vision Zero goals, especially when we consider that too much emphasis is placed on accommodating the needs of drivers. We need to shift our focus to building streets that cater to all modes of transportation and protect the well-being of our vulnerable pedestrians and cyclists.

“Prioritizing automobiles creates a disastrous cycle for safety. Not only are our current bikers and pedestrians less safe, but potential cyclists and pedestrians opt for riding in cars due to safety concerns. Those additional cars then, in turn, make it even more dangerous for people to walk and bike in our city.

“We need to do more. Dave Salovesh had some ideas, like creating a continuous network of protected bike lanes. We could start there.

“At today's Committee of the Whole meeting, I joined Councilmember Mary Cheh as a co-introducer of her Mandatory Protected Cycling Lane Amendment Act of 2019 to accelerate the construction of protected bike lanes on our streets. I also joined Councilmember Charles Allen to co-introduce emergency legislation to improve safety for pedestrians and bikers by forcing DDOT to complete the Florida Avenue Multimodal Project.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues on whatever new laws and budget language we need to change the status quo in how we design, build and maintain our roadways. It simply should not be physically possible to go so fast on our streets that people can be so easily killed by cars. This means narrowing our roads and intersections and using that newly freed up space for wider sidewalks, bike lanes, plazas, and more.

“Our city has no excuse for the deaths of Dave Salovesh and Abdul Seck. These were not simply tragic accidents, but the inevitable result of prioritizing the speed and convenience of cars by failing to narrow our roads, paint our crosswalks, install stop signs, and make other changes to allow our residents and visitors to safely travel in our city.”

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First-ever cultural plan is a first step to fully supporting D.C.’s creative sector

For Immediate Release: 
April 5, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

First-ever cultural plan is a first step to fully supporting D.C.’s creative sector

Washington, D.C. – The following is a statement from Councilmember David Grosso on the release of the D.C. Cultural Plan:

“After nearly 4 years, I am excited to finally see the release of the District of Columbia’s very first Cultural Plan. The plan provides an assessment of the current state of our city’s creative sector, identifies gaps, and proposes recommendations to more fully embrace the arts and humanities and acknowledge their vital role as a major economic driver through greater financial, policy, and community supports.

“This is such an important moment for the creative community, our residents, and visitors to the District of Columbia–all of whom benefit when we promote and support cultural development in D.C. When I directed the investment in the FY2016 budget to make this plan a reality, it was my hope that it would enable the city to identify the current level of service for cultural groups in each neighborhood; detail the feedback from community outreach; establish a strategy to meet the specified needs of each community; quantify the economic impact of arts, humanities, and culture; and ultimately put forth a targeted approach to increase cultural activity citywide.

“I appreciate the work of the Office of Planning, the Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and most importantly, the engagement of D.C.’s creative community, especially ArtsAction DC, in the development of this plan. A plan, however, is nothing without action and proper investment. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to support the growth and development of our creative sector and deepen its immense contributions to the District’s economy and rich cultural fabric.”

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Grosso revives efforts to reform constituent service funds

For Immediate Release: 
April 2, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso revives efforts to reform constituent service funds

Washington, D.C. – Often misused constituent service funds could see radical change aimed at improving the provision of assistance to constituents and reducing the influence of private donors under new legislation introduced by Councilmember David Grosso today.

Constituent service funds allow elected officials in the District of Columbia to raise money from private donors and provide emergency assistance to residents when a financial need arises.

However, a recent report from the non-profit Public Citizen entitled Misused, Inequitable and Ethically Fraught found that, in the last seven years, only a quarter of expenditures from constituent service funds have been used to meet the immediate needs of D.C. residents.

Rather than using funds to help residents pay bills, buy groceries, or make funeral arrangements, some elected officials have purchased items like sports tickets and branded t-shirts or calendars.

“Worse than what these funds are misused for is where the money comes from. Private donations­–from those seeking business with D.C. government or campaign funders who have reached their contribution limits–raise the specter of pay-to-play politics,” said Grosso, who does not maintain a constituent service fund because of the ethical challenges they present.

The Constituent Service Fund Reform Amendment Act of 2019 establishes a central, publicly-funded constituent service fund for the Mayor, Attorney General, and the members of the Council, providing each the ability to direct up to $40,000 annually for immediate constituent needs.

The legislation also adds new limits on constituent service funds expenditures, specifically prohibiting questionable perks like sports tickets and branded advertising, and empowers the Chief Financial Officer to administer the program and approve expenditures.

“The bill I introduced today would allow us to both meet the immediate needs of constituents while also removing the undue influence of monied interests in this important work,” Grosso said.

It further prohibits private donations or transfers from unused funds campaign, transition, inaugural and legal defense accounts to constituent service funds.

“This legislation builds on the work undertaken in recent years to put our ethical house in order, continuing us down the road that both the Fair Elections and Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Acts have set us on to win back the public’s trust in our work,” Grosso said.

Councilmembers Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, and Robert White joined Grosso as co-introducers of the bill.

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Constituent Service Fund Reform Amendment Act of 2019

Constituent Service Fund Reform Amendment Act of 2019

Introduced: April 2, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Charles Allen, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend the Campaign Finance Act of 2011 to repeal the existing constituent-service program and related language; and to amend Chapter 3 of Title 47 of the District of Columbia Official Code to establish a government-funded constituent services program.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Today, along with Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Charles Allen, Elissa Silverman, and Robert White, I am introducing the Constituent Service Fund Reform Amendment Act of 2019.

Misused, Inequitable and Ethically Fraught. That’s the title of a report on the use of Constituent Service Funds by councilmembers, released last week by Public Citizen.

The report found that, in the last seven years, only a quarter of expenditures from constituent service funds have been used to meet the immediate needs of our residents.

Sports tickets, branded t-shirts, membership dues, calendars, greeting cards¬–the list goes on–are just some of the items that have been purchased with funds intended to help our residents in need pay bills, buy groceries, or make funeral arrangements.

Worse than what the money is used for (or rather NOT used for) is where the money comes from.

Private donations raise the specter of pay-to-play politics, with maxed out campaign donors and those seeking government business able to further contribute financially to an elected official.

Last year, as part of the debate and passage of the Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Act of 2017, which became effective law two weeks ago, provisions to reform constituent service funds were removed at the markup.

During that debate councilmembers touted the important role these funds play in helping their constituents on a day to day basis and raised concerns about meeting constituents’ needs if we were to eliminate these funds or place restrictions on donations to them.

The bill I am introducing today would allow us to both meet those IMMEDIATE needs of constituents while also removing the undue influence of monied interests in this important work.

The legislation establishes a central, publicly-funded constituent service fund for the Mayor, Attorney General, and the members of the Council, providing each the ability to direct up to $40,000 annually for immediate constituent needs.

Elected officials will not be able to solicit donations from private donors or move unused campaign, transition, and other funds to constituent service funds, removing even the appearance of corruption from the equation.

New requirements will ensure expenditures directly benefit constituents and prohibits using funds on questionable perks like sports tickets and branded advertising.

And finally, the bill empowers the Chief Financial Officer to administer the program and approve expenditures, creating a new system of accountability and removing the burden from the Office of Campaign Finance.

This legislation builds on the work undertaken in recent years to put our ethical house in order, continuing us down the road that both the Fair Elections and Campaign Finance Reform Amendment Acts have set us on to win back the public’s trust in our work.

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Grosso proposes greater local control and transparency in school budgeting

For Immediate Release: 
April 2, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso proposes greater local control and transparency in school budgeting

Washington, D.C. – Today Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, introduced legislation to improve how education investments in D.C. Public Schools serve students and provide the public with greater information on how taxpayer dollars are expended in both traditional public and public charter schools in the District of Columbia.

“Over the past several years, there has been significant confusion around funding for both DCPS and charter schools,” Grosso said. “This has raised many questions from the public and elected officials about annual school funding cuts and increased calls for more transparency from both sectors. The School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019 seeks to provide the public and policymakers a more transparent way to digest and engage with how the District of Columbia funds schools.”

The legislation requires DCPS to use a school-based budgeting model, as opposed to the comprehensive staffing model, to fund schools and submit that to the D.C. Council.

“Communities and individual school leaders know how best to meet the needs of their students,” Grosso said. “This bill would allow principals to have more autonomy of their local dollars and the ability to build their budgets based on their students’ needs, rather than the adults that Central Office dictates schools must hire.”

The bill also requires greater transparency from D.C. public charter schools by subjecting them to the requirements of the D.C. Open Meetings Act and requiring the Public Charter School Board to publish both charter school budgets and school expenditures–including a delineation of how at-risk funds are being spent at each school. Currently, only school budgets are published.

Finally, the bill requires that the Office of the State Superintendent of Education publish school budget expenditure information in a way that ensures the public can compare expenditures by local education agencies and schools in a clear manner.

“These provisions give the public clear information and finally allows us to see across all schools how tax dollars are being spent,” Grosso said. “By no means is this the panacea to solve all of the problems around school budgets that the Council and the public have identified. I believe this starts the conversation,” Grosso said.

Chairman Phil Mendelson, along with every member of the Council, joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019

School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019

Introduced: April 2, 2019

Co-introducers: Chairman Phil Mendelson, Councilmembers Anita Bonds, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Brianne Nadeau, Jack Evans, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, Kenyan McDuffie, Charles Allen, Vincent Gray, and Trayon White

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To amend The Uniform Per Student Funding Formula for Public Schools and Public Charter Schools Amendment Act of 1998 to require that the District of Columbia Public Schools submission be based on the cost associated at each school based on projected enrollment and include detailed information for each school’s funding, a separate line-item for at-risk funding for each school, and a narrative description of programs and services funded by at-risk funds; that the DCPS submission delineate cost of the central office attributed listed categories of students in each grade level; that the Public Charter School Board shall publish the detailed budget and end of year expenditures of each public charter school; to amend the District of Columbia School Reform Act of 1995 to require the Boards of Trustees of public charter schools to comply with Title IV of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedures Act; and to require the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to create an electronic reporting system for the public to ensure the greatest degree of clarity and comparability by laypersons of expenditures among all public schools in the District of Columbia.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Next, along with Chairman Mendelson, Councilmembers Allen, Bonds, Cheh, Evans, Gray, McDuffie, Nadeau, Silverman, Todd, R. White, T. White, I am introducing the School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019.

Over the past several years, there has been significant confusion around funding for DCPS schools. At the same time, there is less information about funding for public charter schools. The lack of information about public schools in both sectors has raised many questions around school funding cuts and transparency.

The Council and the public have had a number of conversations about the Universal Per Student Funding Formula, At-Risk Funding, and if fund allocations meant to supplement are actually supplanting.

I have long believed that we cannot have a full and meaningful conversation on this topic until we all have similar baseline information. Unfortunately, because of the disjointedness of our education system, and specifically our funding systems, we continue to have these conversations in silos.

Last year, the Committee on Education attempted to start this conversation when it approved a Budget Support Act subtitle to require the Mayor to be more transparent about how the executive formulates DCPS and schools’ budgets. Unfortunately, that language was not included in the final BSA.

This Council Period, we are attempting to start that conversation again because it is clear that the public is clamoring for a more transparent way to digest and engage with how the District of Columbia funds schools.

The School Based Budgeting and Transparency Act of 2019 attempts to bring about transparency in the following ways:

  • First, it requires DCPS use a school-based budgeting model to fund schools, as opposed to the comprehensive staffing model, and submit that to DC Council. This would allow principals to have more autonomy of their local dollars and the ability to build their budgets based on their students’ needs, rather than the adults that Central Office dictates schools must hire. It would also require DCPS to delineate the cost of central office in its budget submission.

  • Next, Public Charter Schools must be more transparent. It would subject charter schools to the DC Open Meetings Act. Additionally, it requires PCSB to publish both charter school budgets and school expenditures – currently, only school budgets are published. Also, the legislation makes clear that charters must delineate how at-risk funds are being spent at each school.

  • Finally, the bill requires that OSSE publish school budget expenditure information in a way that ensures the public can compare expenditures by LEA and by school in a clear manner. This gives parents and policymakers clear information and finally allows us to see across all schools how tax dollars are being spent.

By no means do I believe this is the panacea to solve all the problems around school budgets that the Council and the public have identified. I do however believe this is a place to start the conversation and I look forward to having that discussion with all stakeholders.

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FY2020 Budget Oversight Questions and Responses

Councilmember Grosso, as chairperson of the Committee on Education, has received responses to his pre-hearing budget oversight questions from D.C. Public Schools, the Public Charter School Board, D.C. Public Library, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education, the Deputy Mayor for Education, the State Board of Education, The Office of the Student Advocate, and the Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education.

You can find the Committee's questions and agencies responses here.

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Breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries could expand into taverns under Grosso proposal

For Immediate Release: 
March 20, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries could expand into taverns under Grosso proposal

Washington, D.C. – Homegrown breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries would have greater freedom to open up additional taverns in the District of Columbia under legislation proposed by Councilmember David Grosso earlier this week.

“In the past decade, the District of Columbia has developed a thriving industry of breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries, which have supported hundreds of local jobs” said Grosso.

However, although they can all currently sell alcohol and food at their production facilities, they are prohibited from owning a separate tavern elsewhere in the District.

Grosso says these outdated laws, a relic of post-Prohibition regulations, disadvantage D.C. businesses.

“These ownership restrictions only apply to District of Columbia breweries, distilleries, cideries, and wineries, but there is nothing to stop a similar out-of-town business from opening up their own taverns here in D.C. Our own small businesses can now be on equal footing.”

The Manufacturer's Satellite Taverns Amendment Act of 2019 would allow local brewers and distillers to own and operate up to two satellite taverns elsewhere in the city that would primarily sell products that they manufacture themselves.

Locally grown businesses could continue to operate tasting rooms and restaurants at their brewing and distilling locations, but this would eliminate the need for complicated ownership structures to also operate a stand-alone tavern elsewhere.

“Our city is a better place because of our home-grown businesses and this bill will help to support their continued growth in the District of Columbia,” said Grosso.

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Grosso re-introduces bill to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness

For Immediate Release: 
March 19, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, (202) 724-8105

Grosso re-introduces bill to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) re-introduced legislation today to end discrimination against people experiencing homelessness in the District of Columbia.

“Discrimination against people experiencing homelessness perpetuates the very problem of homelessness,” Grosso said.  “If we want to put people on the path to stable housing, we must end discrimination that creates another barrier in the way of people seeking to improve their situation.”

The Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019 amends the Human Rights Act of 1977 to add homelessness as a protected class to help eradicate discrimination for individuals experiencing homelessness in employment, in places of public accommodation, in educational institutions, in public service, and in housing and commercial space.

The legislation is named to honor the life and legacy of Michael A. Stoops, a long-time advocate for the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness and a tireless warrior for overcoming income inequality. He helped found the NCH, protested to pressure Congress to pass federal legislation to combat homelessness, and co-founded the North American Street Newspaper Association, which helps to support our own local newspaper, Street Sense.

Grosso first introduced the legislation in 2017. Councilmembers Robert White, Brianne Nadeau, Mary Cheh, and Brandon Todd joined Grosso as co-introducers.

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Grosso introduces bill to develop technology roadmap for D.C. Public Schools

For Immediate Release:
March 19, 2019
 
Contact:
Matthew Nocella, 202.724.8105 - mnocella@dccouncil.us

Grosso introduces bill to develop technology roadmap for D.C. Public Schools

Washington, D.C. – Councilmember David Grosso, chairperson of the Committee on Education, today introduced legislation to create a technology roadmap for D.C. Public Schools which will improve access to educational technology for students and create a framework to maintain and update technology into the future.

“Last summer, I heard from students at my youth-led education town halls who shared that the access to adequate technology in their schools was a major hindrance to their academic pursuits,” Grosso said. “Slow and outdated computers, laptops missing keys, spotty Wi-Fi, and students forced to share devices are just a few of the complaints students have voiced and advocates with Digital Equity in DC Education have raised. In 2019, this is unacceptable.”

A Michigan State University study published in 2016 found that improved access to technology had a statistically significant positive impact on student test scores in English/language arts, writing, math, and science.

The D.C. Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019 requires the mayor to periodically convene a steering committee of DCPS, the Chief Technology Officer, educational stakeholders, and information technology experts to assess the current state of education technology in DCPS, identify gaps, and develop the Comprehensive Student Technology Equity Plan–a roadmap to ensure there is one device per student in grades 3-12 in the next 5 years.

“While D.C. Public Schools has made a great first step with recently announced investments in technology for critical grades, a comprehensive multi-year technology plan and a strategy to maintain and update this education technology in DCPS is necessary,” said Grosso.

Councilmembers Charles Allen, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Mary Cheh, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Anita Bonds joined Grosso as co-introducers of the legislation.

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Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019

Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019

Introduced: March 19, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmember Robert White, Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd, Brianne Nadeau

BILL TEXT

Summary: To amend the Human Rights Act of 1977 to protect individuals experiencing homelessness from discrimination.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Thank you Chairman Mendelson.

A survey conducted by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and George Washington University in 2014 found that out of 142 individuals experiencing homelessness, 132 claimed they had been discriminated against because of their homeless status.

While there isn’t more recent data on this issue, virtually all homeless individuals experience some form of discrimination as they go about their everyday lives.

Today, I am introducing the Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019.

This bill amends the Human Rights Act of 1977 to add homelessness as a protected class to help eradicate discrimination for individuals experiencing homelessness in housing, employment, public accommodation, educational institutions, public service, and commercial space.

It is named the Michael A. Stoops Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2019 to honor the life and legacy of a person who was a long-time advocate for the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness and a tireless warrior for overcoming income inequality.

During his 67 years of life, Michael was able to accomplish many great feats on behalf of individuals experiencing homelessness.

In the 1980s, he help founded the National Coalition for the Homeless.

He fasted and slept on the street in order to pressure Congress to pass the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a federal law that provides funding for homeless shelter programs, and is the primary piece of federal legislation related to the education of children and youth experiencing homelessness.

Later, he pushed the standards of living for homeless individuals by organizing over 100,000 people to join the “End Homelessness Now! Rally”.

In the 1990s, Michael co-found the North American Street Newspaper Association (or “NASNA”). NASNA is a nonprofit trade association of street newspapers that helps to support 110 papers in 40 countries, including our very own local newspaper, Street Sense, where Michael served on the board from 2003 to 2014.

Unfortunately, in 2015 tragedy struck. Michael suffered a massive stroke, which caused him to be wheelchair bound and unable to speak. However, he still remained dedicated to his life’s mission until he passed away in 2017.

Passing this legislation will help eliminate discrimination against homeless people simply because they are homeless.

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District of Columbia Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019

District of Columbia Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019

Introduced: March 19, 2019

Co-introducers: Councilmembers Charles Allen, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Mary Cheh, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Anita Bonds

BILL TEXT | PRESS RELEASE

Summary: To require the development of a comprehensive multi-year student technology plan for the District of Columbia Public Schools that achieves a one-to-one device-to-student ratio for grades 3-12 and provides for the adequate repairing, maintaining, and updating of information technology in schools.

Councilmember Grosso's Introduction Statement:

Along with Councilmembers Charles Allen, Robert White, Elissa Silverman, Mary Cheh, Brianne Nadeau, Vincent Gray, and Anita Bonds, I am introducing the District of Columbia Public Schools Student Technology Equity Act of 2019.

Last summer, I heard from students at my youth-led education town halls who shared that the access to adequate technology in their schools was a major hinderance to their academic pursuits.

Slow and outdated computers, laptops missing keys, spotty Wi-Fi, and students forced to share devices are just a few of the complaints students have voiced.

In 2019, this is unacceptable.

Studies have shown that adequate access to technology has a positive impact on student test scores and imparts modern skills they will need to fully participate in a 21st century economy.

Up-to-date and ample technology in our schools would also improve their ability to seamlessly administer annual standardized testing, which has presented logistical challenges in years past.

The DCPS Student Technology Equity Act of 2019 requires the mayor to periodically convene a steering committee of DCPS, the Chief Technology Officer, educational stakeholders, and information technology experts.

The steering committee will be responsible for engaging the public, assessing the current state of education technology, identifying gaps in student fluency, and determining the adequacy of information technology support for each DCPS school.

This needs assessment will form the basis of a Comprehensive Student Technology Equity Plan that will lay out a road map to ensure there is one device per student in grades 3-12 in the next 5 years.

It will also include a framework to maintain and update technology in our schools and recommendations on how to close the gaps in student technology fluency.

At the end of February 2019, DCPS released a budget that would invest $4.6 million in technology for FY20 and provide a three-to-one technology device ratio for all students and a one-to-one ratio in grades 3, 6, and 9 in SY2019-2020.

While this is a great first step, a comprehensive, multi year technology plan and a strategy to maintain and update this education technology in DCPS is necessary.

In closing, I want to thank student leaders who participated in my town halls for raising their concerns last year and Digital Equity in DC Education for their continued advocacy for improving technology in our schools.

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District of Columbia Public Library Partnership and Sponsorship Amendment Act of 2019

District of Columbia Public Library Partnership and Sponsorship Amendment Act of 2019

Introduced: March 19, 2019

BILL TEXT

Summary: To amend An Act To establish and provide for the maintenance of a free public library and reading room in the District of Columbia to permit the District of Columbia Public Library to promote, endorse, co-sponsor, solicit for, or collaborate with charitable organizations whose sole mission is to support the public library; and to engage in certain revenue-generating activities.

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