Fenty Vetoes Funds for State Ed. Board Again
For the second time in two months, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has vetoed a $950,000 provision in the 2010 budget that would allow the D.C. State Board of Education more autonomy.
The board's nine members are elected but have no authority over day-to-day school operations. That power rests solely with Fenty (D) and Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee under the 2007 law that dissolved the old D.C. Board of Education. The new board is exclusively beholden to Fenty and his appointee, State Superintendent of Education Kerri L. Briggs, for budget and staff. It does set policies that impact both public and public charter schools in areas such as learning standards, truancy rules, teacher licensing, early childhood education and graduation requirements.
But even that is apparently too intrusive for Fenty, whose original proposed budget cut the board's $1 million budget by more than half. D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray restored the cut and then added extra money for the board to hire a couple of staff to make its own spending decisions and do community outreach. After Fenty vetoed the provision on June 18, the council restored it again. But Fenty is apparently digging in his heels.
"Additional educational investments should be tied to outcomes and results for students," Fenty said in an Aug. 26 letter to Gray, first reported today by The Examiner. "Instead, Council's action with regard to the State Board weakens the established school governance structure and threatens to take the District's education reform efforts backward."
Board president Lisa Raymond said the board is not seeking additional authority, just the tools to do its job more effectively. "The issue is independence," she said. "It is staffing and budget independence but it does not change our authority."
The council could vote to override the veto again when it returns from summer break next month. In any event, it will once again delay submission of the 2010 budget to Congress for approval, with the new fiscal year scheduled to begin on Oct. 1.
"The question I have," Raymond said, "is why is the mayor so concerned over keeping control over a body of elected officials that he is holding up the entire city budget?"
August 31, 2009; 5:38 PM ET
Categories: Bill Turque , Education
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