DC Public Schools Given Extra $21.4 Million, $0 for Charters

After District Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi revised his revenue forecast , DC public schools were given half of an additional $42.2 million in funding — while none of the city's 53 public charter schools were given anything, writes Bill Turque at the Washington Post.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray has announced that the D.C. Council will be required to appropriate half of it to cover the school system's "spending pressures" from the current fiscal year.

"One emergency after another, onetime payments year after year. It's untenable," said Ramona Edelin, executive director of the D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools.

The Uniform Per Student Funding Formula is meant to ensure that public and public charter students of similar grade level are funded equally, but this extra cash boost for the school system seems to fly in the face of that.

"We understand that there are financial pressures at DCPS, and we're not suggesting that the mayor not meet them. But there are also pressures in the charter schools."

The decision seems to be especially irritating as Gray has repeatedly said that charters are full partners in the city's public school system.

Ed Lazere, chairman of the D.C. Public Education Finance Reform Commission, said:

"The Uniform Per Student Funding Formula is intended to be uniform and intended to be the main source of funding for students. But there is nothing in the law currently that prevents mid-year appropriations, either to DCPS or DCPCS that are not uniform…It is a legitimate policy question that the commission needs to take up."

It is thought that the extra $21.4 million will be used to replace Congressional cuts in federal payments, merit-based salary increases for teachers and the rising cost of previous non-instructional employees who are being carried on the central office books.

Turque reports that senior Gray administration officials said DCPS finances have historically been plagued by cost overruns, attributable to persistent overspending by school system leadership and weak oversight by Gandhi's office.

"The senior officials, who asked not to be named so they could speak candidly, said Deputy Mayor for Education De'Shawn Wright pushed for the recent reassignment of George Dines, the Gandhi deputy overseeing DCPS. Gandhi's new point person at DCPS is Deloras Shepherd."

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