Ward 4 Schools Deserve Better
January 31, 2012
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According to multiple media sources, the District of Columbia ended fiscal year 2011 with a $240 million surplus! School modernization plans for two schools in the Petworth area of Ward 4 – Roosevelt High and Coolidge High – have been delayed one year because the Council doesn’t have full funding for these projects yet in place. Hmmm. This seems like a no-brainer to me.
Initially, $66 million were allocated in the capital budget for Roosevelt High to start modernization work this summer. But the costs have ballooned upward of $127 million. Coolidge High’s capital budget situation is slightly better off, growing from $86 million to $96 million. Modernization work on Coolidge was to begin in 2013.
The first thing I want to know is why large discrepancies from the original dollar amount to the current. Where is the transparency here? Is there any oversight going on here? Is the District’s Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi asleep at the wheel again?
Typically in a situation such as this, I am among those shouting “give the money back to the people who’ve paid it!” That or either pay down any debt we have accumulated over the years.
Moreover, I am sure each and every person who follows the Council can come up with why the excess money should be spent on their special projects. But we’re talking about creating a physically safe environment for children while they learn in school. Frankly, there are very few things as important as that in the District. We already have an abysmal track record of throwing good money after bad on paper pushers and the administrative type. Here is our chance to spend money without increasing taxes on education that directly benefits the children and not some group of bureaucrats or the teachers union. And here’s a chance to do it in a Ward that has been underserved over the last decade.
According to the Current Newspapers, “between 2000 and 2010, Ward 4 schools were allocated just over $72 million for renovations. In comparison, Ward 3 schools received almost $317 million, Ward 5 was allocated nearly $226 million, and Ward 7 received almost $194 million.”
This leads me to another question: Muriel Bowser, what the hell have you been doing to rectify this? Holding a community meeting only to tell parents and concerned citizens that although they’ve waited their turn, they must wait longer just doesn’t cut it!
Robert Turner is president of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @DCBigPappa on Twitter.