When Mayor Adrian M. Fenty took over the D.C. schools last summer, he announced plans to raise private money to help supplement the system's operating budget--much as Fenty's mentor, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), did when he took over the schools in New York. Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman before taking office, raised hundreds of millions of dollars from his fat cat friends, including entertainment mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs.
But since Fenty's takeover, the idea of the D.C. business community rallying to the schools' needs has gone almost nowhere. Some developers helped do a much-ballyhooed "buff and scrub" to get some buildings ready for students, but business leaders have expressed hesitancy about more investment, saying that in the past their donations have been squandered.
Now, there finally appears to be some movement on Fenty's school fund-raising front. Sara Lasner, a Fenty aide, recently left the mayor's bullpen office to take a nongovernment position as the executive director of the new D.C. Public Education Fund. Lasner, according to administration officials, will be responsible for starting up the organization and raising money for D.C. Public Schools.
Lasner is a friend and protege of John Falcicchio, who coordinated Fenty's fundraising efforts during his mayoral campaign and was rewarded with a seat in the bullpen and the lofty title "senior adviser." During the campaign, Lasner was spotted at fundraising events with Falcicchio and Fenty when the mayor went on a West Coast road trip to meet the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Lasner, who like Falcicchio tends to be press-shy, could not be reached for more details, but stay tuned.