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School Enrollment Figures Don't Add Up, Council Says

The D.C. Council voted today to strip, at least temporarily, $27 million from the city school system budget for next year because it has been unable to justify enrollment projections.

According to Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), the city schools budget was predicated on its enrollment increasing by about 3,000 students next year.

Such an increase, Gray alleges, would defy recent history because enrollment has been declining.

"Given the enormous budget challenges facing the District in 2010, there needs to be a justification why this increase is warranted," said Gray, noting it cost nearly $9,000 for each additional student.

Gray said there were about 72,000 students in the city's network of public and charter schools in the 2006-2007 school year. The following academic year, there were only about 71,000 students. That number dropped to about 70,000 in the 2008-2009 school year.

"The mayor's proposal defies all logic of any kind," Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) said. "For the last 10 years, traditional public schools have been losing enrollment every year."

The Council will not immediately spend the $27 million it diverted away from the school system. Instead, they put it in escrow pending an audit of the projected school enrollment next year. The money will be restored in the fall if it appears enrollment is on the rise.

"We believe taxpayers in the District of Columbia are entitled to solid answers given the magnitude of what we are talking about," Gray said.

By Tim Craig  |  May 12, 2009; 11:38 AM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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Comments

It's about time the Council started holding Fenty accountable. Fenty, and Rhee's, buzzword has been "accountability" from the very start but neither thinks they are accountable to anyone. It's time the Council put the brakes on these two. Score one for the Council, finally!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | May 12, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Vincent Gray is anti-school! Torches! Pitchforks!

Yeagh!

Posted by: bs2004 | May 12, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

DC pols need bad schools in order to keep them in power. Poorly educated voters are what keeps a lot of these losers in office.

Posted by: blankspace | May 12, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Vincent Gray is anti-school! Torches! Pitchforks!

Yeagh!

Posted by: bs2004 | May 12, 2009 12:33 PM


And how do you arrive at this conclusion. Do you not know how to read? Are you incapable of assimilating the data? If the budget calls for more money on the basis there will be more students then cutting the budget would be bad business. Cutting the budget to accurately reflect the situation is the responsible thing to do. So I don't think I would list Gray as anti-education. I would however list you as anti-intelligent.

Posted by: askgees | May 12, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

How big of a blow is cutting $27 million dollars from funding? What's the current budget for DC schools. And what are they doing to encourage enrollment?

Posted by: kmatth3 | May 12, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

The Council should not increase the budget for the DC public schools. The enrollment has been dropping since the 1980s and the expenditures have been increasing. DC spends more per pupil than any other jurisdiction or state. Why? Any extra funds should be put aside for a rainy day fund that can be expended for emergencies only.

Posted by: bill121 | May 12, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

what's up with all of the vincent gray hate?

instead of getting on vincent gray and the city council, why don't think about what they are saying, and take a look the mayor!...

why is the mayor asking for 27 million dollars more when the stats are saying something else?

maybe he is promising the money for some of his friends and hinchman...which won't serve the children of the city at all, but big business instead!

Posted by: docdwb | May 12, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

what's up with all of the vincent gray hate?

instead of getting on vincent gray and the city council, why don't u think about what they are saying, and take a look the mayor!...

why is the mayor asking for 27 million dollars more when the stats are saying something else?

maybe he is promising the money for some of his friends and hinchman...which won't serve the children of the city at all, but big business instead!

Posted by: docdwb | May 12, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Yep, sounded like a sham to me as well.

Posted by: forgetthis | May 12, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm all for kids, but since it seems that the trends point to even LESS students enrolled, why is the council only cutting 27 million? Why do we have all of these 3/4 empty schools open? Why isn't there talk of closing more? Maintaining all of this empty space costs a lot of money in the long term. Our politicians need to show some backbone and channel our limited dollars to their best use instead of paying attention to a small yet highly vocal minority.

Posted by: Liberal4CommonSense | May 12, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

DCPS should not pretend that the budget is its nemesis. If we drop all the political swords, we'd see a continually rotting DCPS bureaucracy. It stinks to high heaven. My child is in a DCPS elementary school. Granted, I don't like the cuts; I get to look forward to another lackluster year with DCPS. I don't have the great, green equalizer to pay for private education. Charter schools are looking like prime rib these days. I'm sorry, but Rhee needs to feel the effects of poor governance. Maybe this is one jam her vocabulary won't get her out of. I blame her completely and they are socking it to her where it hurts. Our children are faceless and voiceless in a school system that lacks proper vigilance. Hooray to the Obamas for passing by DCPS and going private!

Posted by: kcousarwil | May 12, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Kcousarwil: "Maybe this is one jam her vocabulary won't get her out of."

Love that line - wish I had thought of it myself. I may use it - crediting you, of course.

Please consider writing a letter to the editor - with your way with words, it may get published. The Post may at long last be open to views opposing Rhee - especially from people as clever as she is.

Posted by: efavorite | May 12, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Could Rhee be using this as a chance to let teachers go? If the schools don't have the money for teachers, wouldn't she be able to do like they did in the 90's and abolish people?

This week we found out that 6 DCPS schools will be reconstituted but Rhee agreed not to use that event as an opportunity to abolish positions. Maybe a rejected budget is her chance.

Posted by: dcpsinsider | May 12, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

dcpsinsider - to Rhee's chagrin, the dreaded union contract protects current teachers. Cutting the budget means cutting new hires (those bright young people) not the tenured bunch.

I'm sure she will try to use her silver-tongued eloquence to work her way out of this, but I think the political tide has turned and it's time for the stodgy city council to win the day.

Posted by: efavorite | May 12, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Efavorite is correct but I'd say fork-tongued eloquence. The political tide's turn is LONG overdue for people to recognize what's been going on and it's about time!! The Council needs to take over and RUN THINGS, putting the spoiled mayor and his henchwoman michelle in their places: accountable to the government and the PEOPLE whose taxes pay them.

Posted by: southyrndiva | May 13, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

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