- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The D.C. Council on Tuesday morning unanimously proposed bolstering funds for charter schools, restoring cuts to adult education programs and leaving several aspects of the mayor’s education spending plans unchanged. But lawmakers postponed action on the tentative teachers contract.

The actions — undertaken by the Committee of the Whole, which oversees all public education measures — followed Monday’s news from Mayor Adrian M. Fenty that funding for a new four-year contract for D.C. public schoolteachers had been certified by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

The contract calls for an estimated $20 million in raises for teachers, including a voluntary and highly watched merit pay component.

Lawmakers repeatedly have said they support increasing salaries for teachers, whose contract expired in 2007. However, legislators on Tuesday said the CFO must provide more detailed information on the agreement and other budget matters before they vote on the mayor’s plans.

Council members have “major concerns about budget issues … the need to fund teacher raises and some other initiatives in the proposed WTU contract; the existence, or lack thereof, of a surplus in local school budgets; unilateral reallocation of monies appropriated by the council; and reductions in teaching positions,” said D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, speaking on behalf of his 12 colleagues.

The mayor proposes giving charter schools about $2,800 per student for facilities, which charter advocates say is insufficient to cover everything from rent to maintenance to utilities.

With charter-school advocates threatening to sue over what they deem funding inequities, the council yesterday proposed that charters receive $3,000 per pupil in facility funds.

The council also proposed restoring $965,000 to the city’s adult education programs.

Students and advocates of adult ed recently testified before the council on the progress being made by students and graduates of the program. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee told lawmakers last week that some of the funding loss was attributed to the fact that some students could not prove D.C. residency.

The council will reconsider the mayor’s proposals during the May 18 and May 26 legislative sessions.