D.C. School Superintendent Floretta D. McKenzie said yesterday that the loss of $16 million in school funds this year and next from a change in the city's purchasing procedures would severely affect education for city children, adding that the D.C. government's policies are part of the problem.
"The mayor's action throws us back into crisis management," McKenzie said.
The change, implemented last spring, means that agencies no longer will be allowed to carry financial obligations made in one fiscal year over to the next. The school board has said it will take legal action to prevent the loss and feels it should be exempt from the new policy.
McKenzie and several board members, including some political allies of Mayor Marion Barry, criticized the mayor yesterday. McKenzie said that the city's purchasing procedures, under which contracts are reviewed by the Department of General Services and the Corporation Counsel's contract review committee, are part of the problem because they take so long.
"In 1982, orders for $250,000 in textbooks took an average of 284 days to make it through the city's review process," said McKenzie. She added that money to pay for equipment in the school's system's career development centers would "not be forthcoming," along with money to pay for computer equipment and computer laboratories in 80 schools.
Alphonse G. Hill, deputy mayor for finance, said that there was a total of about $14 million in 1982 orders by city government agencies that did not arrive until 1983, and that the $7.2 million the school system must pay out of its 1983 budget is only its share of those orders.
If the schools did not pay that money out of their 1983 budget, Hill said, "plans for senior citizens would have to be reduced, or it might have to come from the police or fire department. That would be inequity."