Budget & Finance

$1.5 Million Anonymous Donation Spares D.C. School Sports

By Bryan Toporek — June 30, 2011 1 min read
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A $1.5 million anonymous donation will be sparing D.C. public school sports from a 28 percent reduction, the Washington Examiner reports today.

“The grant is a present from an extremely generous, anonymous donor with an interest in supporting plans that promote the wellness and well-being, and in particular PE and athletics, for DCPS students,” said Cate Swinburn, executive director of the D.C. Public Training Fund (a nonprofit that raises philanthropy money for the D.C. public school system), to the paper.

Because the donor wished to remain anonymous, the school district did not publicize the donation. The Examiner reports that D.C. Council members were unaware of the donation back in mid-June, and new D.C. schools chief Kaya Henderson sidestepped a question about the 28 percent cut to sports funding at her June 16 confirmation hearing.

Six days later, Henderson wrote an email to one council member saying that a private donation would prevent the reduction in funding for school sports, according to the paper.

“I am pleased to report that while the volume noted for athletics in the FY12 Finances Guide seems to be a reduction in funding for DCPS Athletics, we have truly received a private donation...” her email reportedly read.

The newspaper also interviewed Mary Levy, a “longtime price-range watchdog who assisted the council with its budgeting approach,” as she expressed concerns about the specifics of the donation.

“Certainly I’m quite curious as to what type of strings are attached,” Levy stated. “Next 12 months, what do you do? Say, ‘Sorry, kids’?”

So, long story short: D.C. schools kept an anonymous donation that saved school sports relatively quiet, officials have yet to explain full details of the grant, and some D.C. residents will remain suspicious of the grant until they do so. That may not bode well for the district’s credibility.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.