Monday, May 16, 2005

DC Council looks to decouple DCPS funding from enrollment

From Robert Cane's FOCUS newsletter:
Patterson Bill Would Guarantee Level or Increasing DCPS Funding Through 2009; No Mention of Funding Formula or Uniformity Requirement

Education Committee chair Kathy Patterson has introduced a bill [B16-0285] that apparently seeks to decouple DCPS funding from enrollment for the next three years. Under the bill, which is co-sponsored by Council members Fenty, Mendelson, Ambrose, Barry, and Evans, DCPS would be given a three-year budget covering the period from July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2009. The budget would be based on the FY 2006 DCPS operating budget but would increase each year at the same rate that D.C. Government revenues increase.

According to the bill, a three-year budget “will enable the Board [of Education] to conduct advance financial planning with a stable allocation of resources and will support long-term school reform efforts that are necessary to improve student achievement.”

The bill asks Congress to amend the District of Columbia Home Rule Act to permit the District to adopt a 3-year budget for DCPS. The Act now requires annual budgeting.

The legislation makes no mention of the School Reform Act, controlling congressional legislation requiring that annual funding be based on a formula that provides a uniform dollar amount for each student enrolled by DCPS and the charter schools. In accordance with the formula, DCPS’s total per-student operating funding has declined as students have left for the charter schools.

It is not known whether Mrs. Patterson and her co-sponsors took the School Reform Act into account in developing the legislation or how they intend for charter schools to be funded if the legislation passes.

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