D.C. school Superintendent Floretta McKenzie said yesterday that the $381.8 million operating budget she has proposed for the 1986 fiscal year would allow the school system to get rid of its asbestos problem and better serve bilingual, learning-disabled and gifted students who have been "underserved" in previous years.
The budget proposal is $42 million, or more than 12 percent, higher than the fiscal 1985 request now awaiting congressional action and $55 million higher than the budget for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
The District is ahead of other nearby jurisdictions, which have not prepared budget requests for 1986, spokesmen reported yesterday.
McKenzie's proposal, made public at a Monday night hearing before the school board's finance committee, includes a $20 million request to remove asbestos from school buildings, $12.5 million for salary increases for teachers and staff and $10 million to institute new and expanded standard programs aimed at improving student and teacher productivity.
McKenzie said, "There's nothing really exciting about the proposed budget, but I think the public would be pleased with it because it allows the schools to maintain a high level of progress in pupil achievement while enhancing the instructional services for groups of students who have been underserved.
" The budget proposal is not full of wish lists; we're not asking for anything outlandish. But it helps us maintain stability," she added. She said the school system is in the third year of a five-year plan to improve pupil achievement, and that having consistent annual budgets has aided that effort.
The $10 million proposed for new and expanded programs include $1.7 million to implement a teacher incentive plan, $1.8 million to pay teachers' aides who are now paid through special federal grants and $1.5 million to purchase new school buses.
Also included in the $10 million are proposed increases in funding for school security, special education classes and programs for the gifted and talented, and money to create a museum of the history of the D.C. public schools.
Other items included in the proposal for fiscal 1986, which begins Oct. 1, 1985, are an increase of $1.1 million over fiscal 1985 in funds for bilingual education programs and $1 million for "underfunded base services," such as graduation ceremonies and other regular activities sponsored by schools.
School officials said the increases in funding for bilingual programs reflect their belief that schools should do more to accommodate the growing numbers of students who immigrated here recently from Asian and Spanish-speaking countries.
The $20 million allocation for asbestos insulation cleanup is what the board estimates it will cost to remove crumbling asbestos -- a cancer-causing substance -- from all 162 schools and administrative buildings in which it has been found.
A second public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled before the finance committee tonight. Hearings before the full board and the D.C. City Council will follow. It must then win the approval of Mayor Marion Barry before it can be sent to Congress for final action early next year.