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DC Mayor Blocks $4 Million In Charter School Funding

In an attempt to close the city’s $250 million budget gap, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser moved to freeze $4 million meant to fund renovations at two area charter schools.

The D.C. Council and former Mayor Vincent Gray promised the money to the schools last year, but Bowser is instead rerouting the funds to other ventures.

The $2 million worth of allocated money was earmarked to pay for a new gymnasium at the Washington Latin Public Charter School, and the other $2 million was set to fund a permanent site for D.C. International Public Charter School.

During a City Council hearing Wednesday, Councilman David Grosso, who chairs the Education Committee said he was not happy the mayor went around the council to block the funding.

“There’s either a miscommunication or some kind of change of direction here that I don’t appreciate,” said Grosso.

Washington Latin, an elementary school that serves around 670 students, is $2.8 million short of the $5 million it would cost them to build a new gym. Due to the funding cut, they will be forced to postpone construction, which was supposed start next month, Watchdog reported.

D.C. International caters to middle and high school with language immersion programs. The school was in the pre-development phase on a new $35 million facility, but the mayor’s budget cut will force it to push construction back at least a year and cut back on planned enrollment numbers.

“It baffles me that this council can pass a law that appropriates money. That law is then signed by a mayor and then the will of the council is not fulfilled,” Scott Pearson, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, said during the hearing.

Not all area schools were losers in the mayor’s new budget, though.

Duke Ellington School of the Arts, a highly selective arts school in Georgetown, one of D.C.’s richest neighborhoods, got an extra $30 million in its budget to build a world-class performing arts center without disrespecting the historic character of the 19th century building, the Washington Post reported.

Nearly 20 other schools had their funding pushed back in Bowser’s proposed budget, including Orr Elementary, which has had its funding delayed multiple times over the past decade.

Students from the school attended the hearing Wednesday where they told council members about mice roaming the halls of their school and a 40-year-old boiler that makes it so hot in some rooms it’s nearly impossible for students to sit in them.

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