The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved report language this month that calls for the District of Columbia school system to put an oversight agency in place to control its federal funds.
The committee on July 13 approved report language from Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., that directs the 65,000-student system to “contract with an independent entity to develop legislation to separate the D.C. local education agency functions from the state education agency functions.”
In a typical school system, the local school board is overseen by a state school board or department of education, which disburses and monitors federal money. However, in the District of Columbia, which exists outside state boundaries, that job is also done by the local board, said Adam M. Sharp, a spokesman for Sen. Landrieu.
“The local entity is basically overseeing itself,” he said, “and there isn’t as much accountability as there would be in the other 50 states.”
The U.S. Department of Education has labeled the District of Columbia system at “high risk” for mismanagement of federal money. The appropriations-report language is backed by the local school board, as well as Washington Mayor Anthony A. Williams, Mr. Sharp said.
The report language is meant to clarify the intent of the 2007 District of Columbia spending bill, which is expected to come to the full Senate floor in the fall.
A version of this article appeared in the July 26, 2006 edition of Education Week