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Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education

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Utilization of Public School Facilities

Utilization is a measurement of how full a facility is to meet educational programmatic needs. Utilization is calculated as the number of enrolled students over the programmatic capacity of the school facility. School districts providing neighborhood schools (or "schools of right") often aim for optimal utilization of between 80% to 95%.

In SY21-22, the average total public school utilization was 73%, which is the second year of decrease resulting from two years of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Similarily by sector, DCPS and public charter school utilizations each decreased slightly: DCPS decreased from 72% to 69% and public charter schools decreased from 80% to 78% (which includes schools that have not enrolled their full intended grade spans).

Public School Facility Utilization, SY13-14 to SY21-22



Users can now select four different geographies - Comprehensive Plan planning areas, wards (2022 and 2012 boundaries), and neighborhood clusters - to view public school facility utilization. By planning area, the Rock Creek West area is the most utilized area of the city, driven exclusively by DCPS schools as this area has no public charter schools. Conversely, the Far Southeast and Southwest area and the Far Northeast and Southeast areas have the lowest utilizations. By neighborhood cluster, Chevy Chase (Cluster 10), Friendship Heights (Cluster 11), and Takoma and Brightwood (Cluster 17) were the most utilized. Public charter schools can manage their enrollment (as they do not operate as schools of right), so public charter utilization did not exceed 100% in most neighborhoods in SY21-22.

Utilization of Public School Facilities by Varying Geographies, SY13-14 to SY21-22



The state-level accountability system, the School Transparency and Reporting (STAR) Framework, is designed to provide schools with multiple pathways to demonstrate their performance and success. Depending on the specific grade configuration of a school, the STAR framework includes a list of metrics representing academic performance, academic growth, school environment, English language proficiency, graduation rates (for high schools and alternative schools), and educational progress (for alternative schools). Each school is provided an overall star rating, with one STAR being the lowest and five the highest. Data are as recent only as of SY18-19, as the STAR rating was suspended for SY19-20 and SY20-21 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

For both DCPS and public charter schools, utilization in SY18-19 was greatest in public school facilities with 5 STAR and 4 STAR rated schools, as well as “multi-STAR” facilities. For DCPS facilities, utilization declined as the STAR rating of schools in the facility also went down. For public charter school facilities, this was also true, with the exception of facilities with 1 STAR rated schools, which saw a utilization rate of 86%, higher than the utilization rate for facilities with either 2 STAR rated schools or 3 STAR rated schools.


Public School Facility Utilization by STAR, SY17-18 to SY18-19

- The interactive dashboard can be viewed with and without DCPS portables (or temporary classrooms). 
- Schools that are growing (i.e. growing a grade each year) can be excluded from the analysis, since it may not provide an 
  accurate representation of their facility utilization. 
- Capacity and unfilled seats for SY21-22 may not be directly comparable to capacity in previous years. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 
  some public charter LEAs may have reported a lower capacity for their facilities that was in line with social distancing guidelines. 
- Capacity for SY13-14 through SY20-21 is for an entire LEA located within the facility. For SY21-22, capacity is split across grade bands (typical PK-5th, 
  6th-8th, and 9th-12th grade bands) proportional to their 1-year enrollment projections. 
- The grade band filter has been temporarily removed while the underlying data is revised to proportion capacity along grade band lines. 
  See the downloadable dataset for more information on which schools fall under each grade band. 
- Capacities for DCPS schools that are swinging due to modernization are not reported. 
- STAR ratings are as recent as of SY18-19 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; therefore, the facility data for these graphics are also only as recent as SY18-19. 
- Facilities that are “multi-STAR” are facilities that have multiple schools in a facility with different STAR ratings. 
- Facilities with no STAR rating include schools that did not receive a rating because they were either a new school, had a particular grade configuration 
  that is not rated, or their enrollment was too small. 

Source: OSSE Audited Enrollment, SY13-14 to SY21-22; DCPS and public charter LEA capacities (collected by DC PCSB) 

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