D.C. schools budget crunch could flatten community feedback
With the budget season looming, DCPS officials are bracing principals and parents for a winter of bad news. Initial FY12 allocations for schools are due to be released early next month, and a PowerPoint prepared to brief principals this week warns: "D.C. Government, and by extension, DCPS, is expecting serious fiscal pressures for FY12." District Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi "projects a significant adjustment between FY11 and FY12 total local school allocation."
The District has been working to overhaul and revitalize its LSATs (That's "Local School Advisory Teams" not the Law School Admissions Test), panels of teachers, administrators, parents and students elected in each school to advise principals on key policy decisions. The law requires that schools show "demonstrable community feedback" as they develop their individual budgets, and each principal is expected to convene two LSAT meetings in January discuss budget issues. According to the PowerPoint, principals are encouraged to conduct "a robust, two-way dialogue" with their LSATs. But it also notes that the bleak fiscal situation could make much of their advice irrelevant.
"Not all, or in some cases any, of the changes that LSATs recommend will make their way into final budgets given the fiscal realities we're facing. However, we must recognize LSATs as partners and engage accordingly. Creativity is encouraged."
LSAT members are scheduled to get their own "kick off" briefing at 6 p.m. this evening at Savoy Elementary in Southeast.
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