Thursday, March 02, 2006

Mayor asks Congress to (not yet) change school fiscal year

In 2004 the District successfully lobbied Congress to change the DCPS fiscal year from October 1 - September 30 to July 1 - June 30. One of the issues dogging DCPS has been that the school year straddled two separate funding periods, which greatly affects the ability to budget from year to year. Unfortunately, this change may endanger the District's ability to maintain a clean audit, triggering the reinstatement of the Federal control board. Because of this, Mayor Williams has gone back to Congress to ask for a delay in the implementation of the new fiscal year.
"Apart from the practical benefit of having a fiscal year consistent with the academic school year, there are potentially serious accounting and financial consequences arising from the change made to the DCPS fiscal year," the mayor said in written testimony prepared for delivery today before the Senate Homeland Security Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management.

The mayor's testimony did not mention the federal control board, which went into dormancy after the D.C. government righted itself from potential insolvency of the mid-1990s by maintaining a balanced budget for four consecutive years. Federal legislation that created the control board to take over D.C. government operations under the Clinton administration reconstitutes the board and its far-reaching functions if the D.C. government fails to balance its budget and maintain a clean audit report of its annual financial operations.

In addition to changing the public school system's fiscal year, the 2004 D.C. authorization legislation also requires all public charter schools and the University of the District of Columbia to adopt the new July through June budget calendar. The entire D.C. government currently operates on a fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, concurrent with the federal government's fiscal year.

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