- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2007

D.C. education officials say few logistical changes will occur immediately when Mayor Adrian M. Fenty officially takes over the public school system today.

“The reporting structure will take place immediately,” said John Stokes, spokesman for the new Office of the State Superintendent for Education, formerly the State Education Office. “The logistics — that’s still to be worked out.”

The takeover took effect just after midnight, giving Mr. Fenty control of the 55,000-student school system and relegating the elected school board to an advisory role.

Mr. Fenty also will exercise control over the school system’s more than $1 billion budget for fiscal 2008.

The plan makes the school system a Cabinet-level agency and requires Mr. Fenty to appoint a chancellor who will be accountable to him. Superintendent Clifford B. Janey’s role in the new regime could not be determined yesterday.

The chancellor’s work will parallel that of Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso, who will oversee the education superintendent's office and facilities management, according to the plan.

Fenty spokeswoman Carrie Brooks said yesterday that the mayor had not picked a chancellor.

Mr. Stokes said the Board of Education and its staff would start moving to the education superintendent's office at One Judiciary Square in Northwest this week. The board currently is housed at the school administration building on North Capitol Street in Northeast.

He said the office has 90 days to submit a transition plan, which he expects to be finished much sooner.

Deborah Gist, director of the education superintendent's office, has encouraged the school board’s staff to “have faith in the process,” board spokeswoman Natalie Williams said.

Miss Williams said she was not aware of any resignations from the school board or its staff.

The school board, now called the State Board of Education, has a diminished responsibility in developing curriculum and educational standards under the mayor’s plan.

Schools spokeswoman Audrey Williams said no briefings had been given on upcoming changes at D.C. schools headquarters and officials were more concerned with preparing for next school year.

“We’re continuing to prepare of the opening of schools,” Miss Williams said. “That’s a huge task for us every year.”

The mayor is taking over after a long battle inside and outside the school system.

In January, school board President Robert C. Bobb said he would resign from the school board if the D.C. Council passed the mayor’s plan. He retracted that statement after the council approved the plan in April and since has cooperated with Mr. Fenty.

Mr. Janey also opposed the plan but began cooperating with the mayor after the vote, citing his responsibility to improve schools.

School board member Jeffrey Smith, who represented Wards 1 and 2, resigned two weeks after the council passed the bill.

Various community groups and citizens lobbied against the plan, saying residents of Wards 4 and 7 did not get fair representation because their council seats — formerly belonging to Mr. Fenty and council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, respectively — were vacant when the measure was approved.

Mr. Fenty’s most notable opposition yielded Thursday, when a D.C. Superior Court judge ruled against activist Mary Spencer, who filed with the city’s elections board to put the plan to referendum.

Because the bill contained an amendment to the Home Rule charter, it had to be approved by Congress and President Bush. The referendum was struck down because it would have overruled an act of Congress.