Mayor Marion Barry's fiscal 1987 budget proposal, if approved, would "financially shortchange" the District's schools, leaders of an advocacy group called Parents United for the D.C. Public Schools charged yesterday.
"Our children are suffering because the schools cannot afford to give them the kind of education they deserve," said Delabian Rice-Thurston, executive director of the group. "The mayor's request will only allow for mandatory increases in salaries for teachers and other employes and is barely enough to cover inflationary increases for school supplies."
Barry recently recommended that the City Council approve $380.7 million for the schools in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, a $20.5 million increase over this year but about $15 million less than the D.C. Board of Education had sought.
According to an analysis of the mayor's budget released yesterday by the lobbying group, the proposed spending increase is "not adequate."
"If, in fact, [the mayor] believes that the schools are important, that the education of our kids is really critical, he must spend money on his schools," Rice-Thurston said.
The schools have received smaller budget increases than most other city agencies in the last three years and the mayor's 1987 budget recommendation for the schools does not allow for any significant increases in funds to buy new textbooks and other supplies that students need, according to the Parents United evaluation.
According to the group, the schools received a 17 percent increase in funding from 1983 through 1986, while the city judicial system, for example, received an increase of 87 percent and the D.C. Department of Public Works received an increase of 31 percent.
"Kids are as important as potholes in our streets and they are as important as bridge construction. It is really sad that there is always money for more bureaucrats but not for teachers," said Mary Levy, school finance analyst for Parents United.
"If the schools had been treated like most other city agencies, they'd have more than $400 million in this year's budget. There is money available [in the city treasury] to give the schools full funding," according to Levy.