Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gray quietly takes first step in creating charter school funding equity

An interesting tidbit from DC.  Let's cross our fingers and hope Mayor Gray ends up being better than many fear on solidifying and expanding the reforms initiated under Fenty and Rhee:

Gray quietly takes first step in creating charter school funding equity

·         December 8th, 2010 5:00 am ET

The Washington Post's Tim Craig reports today on moves the D.C. Council has taken to close a $188 million shortfall in this fiscal year's budget.  The exercise revealed two bold moves by the incoming Mayor.  First, Mr. Gray added on to a proposal by Mr. Fenty to reduce welfare payments by 20 percent to anyone who has been in the program for more than 5 years.  Mr. Gray increased that number to 40 percent in fiscal 2012 and 60 percent in fiscal 2013.

Next, Mr. Gray placed in reserve $31 million in funding for DCPS until the school system can prove it needs the money.  According to Mr. Craig, "Gray said his approach is a sign that he wants to 'scrub' the school budget for potential savings in the coming years."

Coincidentally, this is almost exactly the amount of money it would take to bring the charter school per pupil facility fund payment from the current $3,000 to $3,100 per child, back to the level it was at before Mr. Fenty reduced it to $2,800 last year.  The facility allotment working group that Tom Nida headed about 12 months ago estimated that the traditional schools receive $3,200 a student for buildings.  If the dollars that have been put aside make it over to charters it would be an extremely important first step in equitable resource allocation between the two public school systems, a goal Mr. Gray committed to during the campaign.

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