Mayor Marion Barry intends to appeal a D.C. Superior Court judge's ruling that blocks the mayor's attempt to remove $11 million from the school system's current budget, city officials said yesterday.
Claude Bailey, a spokesman for the D.C. corporation counsel, said the city soon will file an appeal against Judge Richard S. Salzman's decision Friday that the mayor could not unilaterally cut the school budget.
"We continue to believe that the mayor has that authority," Bailey said. "When there is a shortfall in revenue, we think he can make any adjustments in city agencies that he thinks are necessary."
Last month, Barry announced that he wanted to take $11 million from the school system's half-billion-dollar budget to help the city avoid a budget deficit. But the school board filed suit.
Board President Nate Bush (Ward 7) said that the system would have had no choice but to furlough teachers for several days without pay in order to comply with the mayor's order. School officials and parent leaders reacted jubilantly to the judge's ruling.
"This is a wonderful victory," said Delabian Rice-Thurston, executive director of Parents United, a schools advocacy group that joined the board's suit against Barry. "I hope the next mayor will remember it."
Earlier this year, the mayor and the D.C. Council ordered the school system to cut $8 million from its budget. That move forced school officials to impose a hiring freeze, curtail travel and cut several summer programs.
Judge Salzman said that Barry's second attempt to cut the school budget was not valid because he did not seek council approval and thus violated a 1983 agreement he signed with the school board not to make cuts on his own.
Salzman's ruling was the latest episode in a turbulent financial year for the city's schools. In February, Barry proposed adding $100 million to the schools budget, an unprecedented 20 percent increase.
But disclosures that the school system's enrollment had been inflated for years sank a large part of the request once it reached the council.
In the time since, the school system has been reeling from cuts and expressing uncertainty about how soon it can finance a package of education revisions proposed by a task force of civic leaders.
Meanwhile, the school system is negotiating a new contract with its 6,500 teachers. The current contract expires next month, and it is not clear where the system will find money for raises.