Friday, November 23, 2007

Rhee wants another $81 million

Chancellor Rhee has requested an additional $81 million from the District coffers as a one-time allocation from unanticipated tax revenue.
A large chunk of the money would go to reducing the size of the central office and paring the number of unused classrooms through school closings and consolidations.

Rhee is seeking $7 million to cover severance pay for central office employees and staff members who are cut from schools that will be closed. Rhee's request to obtain authority to fire central office staffers she considers incompetent is pending in the council.

She intends to follow through on a plan by the previous school administration to close and consolidate numerous schools. Although enrollment is down to 49,600, the system is operating an inventory of schools that can accommodate more than 70,000 students, Wepman said. Rhee, he said, wants to use surplus money rather than the budget to pay some $23 million in costs associated with operating too many facilities, allowing the system to devote more dollars to reforms. Rhee would use another $3.6 million to close the schools, which she has not yet identified.

In addition, she is seeking:

  • $16 million for teachers' raises and $2.3 million for teacher's aides' raises;
  • $7.5 million to expand art, music, foreign language programs and to hire more librarians; and
  • $2.3 million to retain teachers who have been deemed unnecessary because of the enrollment decline through the remainder of the school year rather than firing them mid-year.

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