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A $2,000 surplus and "absolute hogwash"

D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, who declined to speak for Sunday's story on his scuffling with Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, apparently had second thoughts after he read the piece. He dispatched spokesman David Umansky to push back at Rhee's assertion that she has little or no control over budget and financing questions, calling it "absolute hogwash."

Rhee said on Friday that she assumed some responsibility for the confusion over the DCPS budget and funding of the proposed teacher contract. On April 13, she announced a $34 million surplus in her budget that Gandhi disallowed two days later. But she also made clear that she is dependent on Gandhi's office for data on where the agency is financially.

"It's unfortunate that we're in the situation that we're in," she said. "But I think it's important to make clear what we have responsibility for and what we don't."

Said Umansky: "She creates the budget and decides where the money will be spent. The CFO makes certain that all of the regulatory and legal requirements for spending District funds are met, that nothing improper is done. When asked, we assist the Chancellor, as we do all agency heads, in developing the overall budget and specific budget items. If there are questions about whether funds are available for specific purposes the CFO makes that determination. If funds are not available we work with the DCPS staff to identify sources for the necessary funds."

But what Rhee seemed to be saying is that the data used to make those decisions is not always reliable. Not so, said Umansky.

"This is the case of the chancellor blaming the messenger for information she doesn't like. When she first got here she didn't like the information she was getting. She got the CFO to replace her with someone she liked and never complained about the information she was getting. Now she is getting a truly independent analysis of their budget."

Umansky said the current analysis of the $700 million budget shows a surplus of $2,000 for FY 2009.

Umansky also took issue with the implication in the Sunday story that Gandhi is responsible for the District's spot on the Education Department watch list as a high-risk grant recipient. He said the reason the District is high-risk is that sub-grantees are not adequately monitored, and record keeping by DCPS staff working in federal grant programs has been spotty.Teachers, for example, have to keep track of the time they spend working hours paid for by grant money, he said.

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By Bill Turque  |  April 27, 2010; 2:28 PM ET
 
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Next: ISO: A CFO for Michelle Rhee

Comments

Thanks for the good reporting, Turque.

Posted by: aby1 | April 27, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

$2,000 surplus.
That'd be a quarter or 2 for each teacher?

Posted by: edlharris | April 27, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

If the DC govt will provide one-half ballroom in the convention center, I will personally get contributions for the beer and wine and soft drinks for Mr. Gandhi's retirement party. Maybe WTU will pay for the food. He deserves a good party, and thanks from a grateful District citizenry. But he needs to go before he looks even worse as CFO.

Posted by: axolotl | April 27, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

The other half of the ballroom is reserved for Rhee. How can someone "find" $34M of surplus and get called out on it, then days later "identify" $29M more of a surplus. Why didn't she say she found a $63M surplus from the start. She's a LIAR, thats why. This is Ghandhi's fault, huh?!
Get contributions, sounds like you're kinda closer to the Walton/Gates people than you let on.

Posted by: isupreme | April 27, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Can't wait for Friday. If the money is not there, the foundations go home "with" their money.

Posted by: candycane1 | April 27, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

isupreme-- Yeah, real close. I shop at Walmart.

Posted by: axolotl | April 27, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

New D.C. teacher contract won't be certified
April 27, 2010 - 8:47pm

WASHINGTON - Sources inside D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty's office tell WTOP that the Chief Financial Officer for the District will not certify the new D.C. teacher's contract, which puts the deal in serious jeopardy.

http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=25&sid=1944395

Posted by: edlharris | April 27, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

As much as a new Teacher's contract is needed, it would seem to be very risky to certifly one when the head of the DC Public Schools obviously does not know how to manage a budget.

Posted by: highquality4kids | April 28, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

You have to give it to the Rhee defenders, they stick by their girl no matter what and unfortunately there is always a scapegoat--Gandhi, Noah, Graham and everyone but GOD, although GOD may be next.

After Friday hearings it will be Gray, Brown, Barry, and anyone else who will not bow down to the legendary Rhee.

Give Ms. Dunn back her money. With Rhee's fans rushing to her defense and spreading the gospel of how Gandhi is to blame for all things wrong, it will be quite a waste.

Posted by: dccounselor72 | April 28, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Gandhi, the handwriting is on the wall and I'm glad you can read "you are fired".

You have nothing to lose at this point. Please continue to provide proof that Rhee's school reform is a house of cards.

Posted by: thelildiva4u | April 28, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

What a total embarrassment. If this doesn't get Rhee fired, nothing will.

Posted by: madmom1 | April 28, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Now what? Are you kidding me? Is it true that the Chancellor negotiated funding for a teacher contract that made herself an indispensable part of the deal? And could it be true that we are becoming aware of this just now, after so many other miscalculated excuses for budgetary chaos? This can not be true; not in a world guarded by a healthy and responsible press.

And without further ado, we are moving on to discuss how public dollars can fill the void with budget cuts to essential public services to avoid the consequences of a corporate bailout of conditional dollars if we vote the wrong way. Are we seriously considering accepting corporate monies in exchange for being able to freely choose our elected leaders? Are you kidding me, again?

And could it be true that the Washington Post, the most powerful and trusted word that so many Washingtonians rely on to understand and formulate opinions, is capable of defending such an undemocratic and corporatist corruption of one of our societies most sacred institutions, namely our Public Schools and our elective process? Please ... tell me I am wrong.

Let us just acknowledge a fundamental truth; the foundations that have put their trust in our Chancellor and mayor Fenty are well known for their support for the privatization of education and for the elimination of teacher's unions. How can a reasonable person not construe this as another example of how the mayor has put monied interests (many who are not resident in our great city) ahead of those who live within limited economic means?

The sad truth is that it is the poor neighborhood schools that have suffered most, and the affluent neighborhood schools that have flourished. The achievement gap has increased in DC Public Schools faster than any other city in our nation, and we were the worst to begin with.

This is not a discussion that a responsible press should engage in without the clear and obvious declaration of how it is against everything that we as Americans stand for. And how often has the Washington Post explained how they may have significant financial interest in student testing and preparation so important to our Chancellor's agenda.

Look up The Washington Post Company in Wikipedia and you will find the following: Kaplan is one of the world's largest providers of educational services. Kaplan focuses on four areas: higher education, professional training, test preparation and after-school tutoring programs and services for U.S. school districts. Headquartered in New York City under the leadership of CEO Andrew Rosen, Kaplan had $2.3 billion in revenue in 2008. It is The Washington Post Company's fastest growing division and its largest revenue producer.

Posted by: AGAAIA | April 29, 2010 4:23 AM | Report abuse

AGAAIA, you are right. Kaplan also is focusing on school districts. Please look at this website.
http://www.kaplank12.com/us/home

Notice what their specialties are.

Posted by: peteyamama1 | April 29, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

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