The administration of D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray has told charter schools that it absolutely, positively never intended to freeze the $100 million dollar plus April quarterly payment until the D.C. Council passed the smaller supplemental spending bill that will come up for consideration Tuesday. According to Gray chief of staff Chris Murphy, it all came down to a misunderstanding over that often confusing word, “freeze.”
It started when State Superintendent Hosanna Mahaley sent this e-mail late Friday afternoon to D.C. Public Charter School Board Executive Director Scott Pearson, who passed it on to school operators:
Hello Scott -
Per our conversation, I received confirmation from my OCFO [Office of Chief Financial Office Natwar M. Gandhi] that the 4th quarter payments to charter schools scheduled for April 15th will be delayed until the City Council approves the supplemental request. The City Council is scheduled to consider this request on Tuesday, April 17th. If the request is approved, processing will begin immediately and schools will receive payments no earlier than Friday, April 20th.
Gandhi’s office indicated Friday that this was all initiated by the mayor’s people. But a few hours later, Murphy sent this somewhat frantic note to the FOCUS DC chairman and founder Malcolm Peabody and government relations director Michael Musante:
From: “Murphy, Christopher (EOM)” <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2012 21:08:35 -0400
Let me be very very clear here. There was NEVER a decision to “freeze” the regular charter payments. NEVER NEVER NEVER.
What we were told by OCFO is that they were ready to make payments on the 17th but were a bit frozen because they didn’t know whether to make the checks for the smaller amounts, if the Chairman doesn’t get the Council to act, or the higher amounts if they approve our request. Not frozen as in the payments were frozen. Frozen as in they didn’t know how much to make the checks out for.
I would certainly hope you are sharing your concerns with the Council to ensure they act on Tuesday so we can get you the funding we would like to pay you and that your members deserve.