The District of Columbia school district is facing a shortfall of approximately $22 million for its next fiscal year, but Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee says she is going to preserve teacher jobs and classroom supplies, according to The Washington Post.
Rhee plans to focus cuts on other areas, such as after-school programs, security, and the central office.
Her pledge is sure to be welcome news to the teacher force in the nation’s capital, which is still reeling from a fall cut of more than 200 teachers and nearly 400 staffers overall from the district’s payroll. The resulting fallout of the layoffs even led high school students to take to the streets in protest.
Rhee is not alone in her budget woes. The smart budget folks we often talk to here at Education Week tell us that state and local economies often trail any improvement in the national economy by about two years, so the budget situation many local school districts are facing this new year looks even more bleak. According to a National Conference of State Legislatures report cited by my colleague Erik Robelen in this story, most states are expecting big budget shortfalls in the next two fiscal years.
In Maryland, the lack of money has led to an ongoing fight among the state’s two largest counties and their respective school districts over whether counties should have to keep abiding by the state’s maintenance-of-effort law, which requires the governments to keep funding the school district’s at at least the same level as the previous year.
Nancy S. Grasmick, the state’s education superintendent, has routinely sided with the school districts, and the requirements for federal stimulus funding also make it difficult for governments looking for a relief valve.
Despite the ongoing budget pressures many of you face, I know there’s much more going on out there in the nation’s school districts that isn’t keeping you awake at night, and I want to hear from you. Let me know what is new and news with you. You can always comment here on the blog, or send me an e-mail. Happy New Year!
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.