The Washington Post

DC Council to consider giving state education board more control over personnel, budget

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has called a hearing tomorrow on legislation that would give the District’s State Board of Education a little more control over its own affairs.

The bill, sponsored by Mendelson and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) would allow the nine-member board to hire its own administrative staff and administer its own (small) budget — functions that currently lie within the office of the state superintendent.

Mary Lord, the board’s Ward 2 representative and candidate for its at-large seat, favors the change. She described the measure as one that would give the board “a tiny morsel of autonomy” and help “government run more effectively, efficiently, and responsibly.”

It might also give the board the personnel it needs to make sure that the public (and this reporter) knows what it’s working on and voting on. The board’s Web site, which is housed on OSSE’s site, hasn’t been updated with meeting minutes, agendas and relevant documents since May 2011.

Board members acknowledge that that’s a problem.

“The #DCSBOE is attempting to get its own Web site again,” Patrick Mara (Ward 1) tweeted last week in response to this reporter’s query. “Not having a board Web presence hurts our ability to be open.”

The state board doesn’t oversee the schools directly and has a far more limited role than the old city school board, which governed public education before the 2007 mayoral takeover.

But the board does set important policies, including academic standards and requirements for high school graduation and teacher licensure.

Emma Brown writes about national education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.


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