The Washington Post

DCPS paying $2.2 million for buildings it doesn’t use

Like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know quite what you’re going to get when you open up the DCPS operating budget. Pots of money materialize and disappear, names of spending categories change from year to year, making it difficult to follow which dollars go where.

This year, it turns out that the school system has paid $2.2 million to cover fixed costs (rent, utilities) for facilities it no longer operates. The payments, in the form of charges by the Department of Real Estate Services, which manages surplus city buildings, were disclosed as part of a routine “reprogramming”—budget-ese for shuffling around funds to cover unanticipated costs or changes in spending—that recently passed the D.C. Council.

See a partial list of them after the jump.

● $313,188 for the former Rabaut Junior High, closed by DCPS in 1993, which has housed several charter schools, including the Kamit Institute for Magnificent Achievers, which went dark in 2010.

● $314,937 for the former Birney Elementary in Ward 8, closed by DCPS in 2009, and now home to two charter schools, Septima Clark and Excel Academy.

● $141,817 for the former Evans Middle School In Ward 7, now Maya Angelou PCS.

● $129,318 for the former Harrison Elementary in Ward 1, closed in 1999 and last used by Children’s Studio PCS, which folded in 2010.

● $111,748 for the former Draper Elementary in Ward 8, closed by DCPS in 2009, now National Collegiate PCS.

● $42,018 for the former McGogney Elementary in Ward 8, closed by DCPS in 2006.

Some of the charges were even more peculiar because they had nothing whatsoever to do with the schools. These include:

● $89,739 for the MPD Second District headquarters on Idaho Ave. NW.

● $63,710 for the Sursum Corda library kiosk on New York Ave.

It’s not clear how long DCPS has been signing checks for these buildings. Spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said in an e-mail that the school system was removing them from the books for FY 2013.

“We’ve been working with OCFO Office of the Chief Financial Officer] to ensure that the properties for which we are assessed are actually operated by DCPS. Many inaccurate assessments have already been removed to resolve outstanding issues,” she said.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.


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