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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?"

Bill Turque

By Bill Turque  |  August 31, 2009; 5:38 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Turque , Education  
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I am not a D.C. native so forgive me if this whole setup with with an elected School Board reporting to a Mayoral appointee seems foreign to me and contrary to the will of the people.

They are reporting to someone who was not elected.

Now that the dust has settled on the Mayor's assumption of control over DC Public Schools, it is grossly obvious that Mayor Fenty is not as transparent as he promised he would be regarding matters of education. He has gone out of his way to keep the Council and the people in the dark about what is going on with DCPS.

If the people elect a school board the people have a right, in my perspective, for that electee to carry out their duties based on the authorities granted to them through the election process. Particularly with a school board where the elected represents particular resident constituency interests in the city. It is not for a Mayor to circumvent the will of the people.

I would say that the Council would be on solid ground to protect the integrity of the electoral process and overrule the Mayor's veto. The school board, as an elected body, must exercise some autonomy from the Executive. They do not serve at the pleasure of the Mayor, they serve at the WILL of the people. He cannot fire them, he cannot replace them, the council must give them the rightful freedom to carry out their responsibilities without hindrance from the Mayor.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | August 31, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Remember, the Council helped to make this new "reform structure" a dream come true for the young lad.

Posted by: shank2sb | September 1, 2009 5:28 AM | Report abuse

I read this article about Fenty with a heavy heart. A few years ago he represented a young, fresh mayor with many good ideas for the city. Taking over the schools,gosh, anyone in DC knows its schools need improvement.But the past few years it has become clear to me that Fenty takes care of Fenty first and is quite arrogant when we citizens (and the press) ask him questions that he does not want and will not answer. He needs to see much Fenty signage when he attends events. He likes having totally control and only shares with a small few in his circle,Rhee,Lanier,Nickles and Ghandi to name a few. BUT he works for the people and as a citizen I want to be able to know what is going on behind close doors.This is not a transparet gov't...this is a gov't that tells what they feel they need to tell us. Fenty and his cabinet have sorely disappointed me, I will not vote for Fenty again. He is just like any other DC Mayor, out for himself and arrogant. DC deserves better.

Posted by: DCWatcher3 | September 1, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

"They do not serve at the pleasure of the Mayor, they serve at the WILL of the people."


The *Mayor* serves the WILL of the people. Most DC voters don't even check the box for the School Board members, and if they do, they don't know what they're voting for.

It's a petty fiefdom of also-rans.

Posted by: antontuffnell | September 1, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable! I really can't believe how outrageous Fenty is being. If he can't control something or it is not run by one of his buddies, he wants to get rid of it.

He should cut funding for the Deputy Mayor of Education's office. I think their biggest accomplishments have been issuing a plagiarized document and a master facilities plan that is full of mistakes and misinformation.

Posted by: letsbereal2 | September 1, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

And to think that Sekou Biddle tried to protect Fenty's move to DCPS with his kids as a private matter.(DC Examiner) I bet you won't speak on his behalf anymore. He just showed you how he feels about you didn't he?

Posted by: candycane1 | September 2, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

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