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Does D.C.’s School Choice System Hurt Neighborhood Schools?

When D.C. families choose a school that is not their assigned neighborhood campus, they tend to select schools that educate fewer students from low-income families, according to an 86-page study released Thursday from the Office of the D.C. Auditor.

The result: Traditional neighborhood public schools, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, struggle with declining enrollment over the long term and have higher concentrations of students living in poverty. Smaller schools are more expensive to operate, leaving campuses with less money to hire staff.

The plight of those schools is also complicated in the middle of the school year when students transfer from other campuses and school systems, arriving after per-pupil funding has been allocated. That causes schools to be even more cash-strapped.

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