Private $$$ for teachers must be "legally binding"
If, for some reason, the private foundations Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee says are lined up to fund at least a portion of teacher salary increases don't deliver, the District is on the hook. That's the judgment of Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, as laid out in an Oct. 14, 2008 letter to D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray.
Gandhi will soon be asked to evaluate a financial package in the proposed DCPS labor contract that is allegedly in the final stages of formation. Before any deal can be ratified by the council, he must provide a "certification of funding sufficiency," meaning that the money promised in the contract is actually available.
Ordinarily, this would involve Gandhi looking at the District's own resources -- not all that flush at the moment -- and rendering an opinion. In this case, he'll have to be persuaded that the potential private sources are stable enough to use as the basis for a contract with the Washington Teachers' Union (WTU).
"In the case of a labor agreement that involves the use of private funding, the OCFO [Office of the Chief Financial Officer] would use the same process in certifying fund sufficiency," Gandhi wrote. "Accordingly, in this case the OCFO would insist on some form of legally binding commitment from donors (e.g., a contract, notice of grant approval)."
Moreover, he said, it was his opinion that the District "would remain obligated to provide funding to uphold the collective bargaining agreement in the event that private funds became unavailable."
Gray asked Gandhi about the issue back in the fall of 2008, when Rhee and the Washington Teachers' Union were nearly a year into trying to hash out an agreement. Union president George Parker told teachers this week that details of a proposed contract could be available for their review after they return from spring break on April 6.
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