Rhee Challenges Council's Math
Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee continues trying to flesh out her side of the DCPS budget shortfall/layoffs imbroglio.
On "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" this afternoon, she challenged D.C. Council President Vincent C. Gray's contention that DCPS has more money this year to spend on fewer students. Gray says the $43.9 million budget gap that triggered the layoffs of 388 school employees--including 229 classroom teachers--was no gap at all, and that federal stimulus dollars should have been enough to cushion any shortfall.
Rhee said that while it is true the school system has more money overall this year ($780 million) over last ($764 million), local school funding--the amount of money derived from District revenues--dropped from $562 million to $550 million.
"The council is saying, 'We didn't cut the budget, that's just not the case....I think everyone can do the math and know there is a decrease."
She said about $40 million in federal stimulus funds were used to bolster this year's $550 million local budget, and that had it not been available, this fall's cuts would have been much deeper. The rest of DCPS' money was comprised of federal funds legally earmarked for specific uses, such as special education.
"The bottom line reality is that we are facing a major budget problem," Rhee said.
She also offered a bit more data, (carefully couched) to deflect union contentions (so far undocumented) in its lawsuit, that she targeted veteran teachers for dismissal:
Six percent of "the entire group of people who were separated from the District" were teachers with more than 25 years of service.
Seventeen percent "of the separated teachers" were brand new.
"About forty percent" of the teachers let go "are in their first five years."
"More than half" had ten years or less experience.
Of the union charges, Rhee said, "I think that's absolutely false. I think that it is irresponsible, quite frankly, for the union leadership to be making accusations they have no data to support."
October 8, 2009; 3:48 PM ET
Categories: Bill Turque , Education
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