Mayor Vincent C. Gray, who was hammered by public charter school leaders for not steering any of the $21 million in supplemental funding he requested for DCPS in December their way, has evidently gotten the message.
Early Thursday evening, three hours before he was scheduled to speak at an annual gala sponsored by the charter school lobbying group FOCUS (Friends of Choice in Urban Schools), his office announced that he has asked the D.C. Council to direct $9.4 million in extra funds for the current fiscal year to the city’s 53 charter schools.
Pedro Ribeiro, Gray’s spokesman, said he believed it was the first time that charters had ever received supplemental funding outside of their annual appropriation — something that DCPS regularly receives.
The funds are part of an extra $34 million in revenue projected by Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi as part of his latest financial forecast. In a letter to D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown, Gray said the charter sector’s audited student enrollment for special education had exceeded its budgeted enrollment by 386 students for an additional cost of $5.7 million. There is also additional funding for higher-than-projected summer school costs.
Charter schools, which serve 41 percent of the city’s public school students, have complained for years about the extra money received by DCPS. Ribeiro said the $9.4 million was not an attempt to appease the independently operated schools but was a response to a specific, projected cost overrun identified by Gandhi’s office.
“Now that there is a certified budget pressure from the CFO’s office, we’ll address it,” Ribeiro said.
It now goes to the council, which is deliberating over the $21 million Gray wants to help DCPS cover cost overruns.