D.C. to aid in paying for facility costs at charter schools
Seven million dollars in federal funds left unspent from the 2012 fiscal year, which ended in September, will go to charter schools for needs other than facility costs, Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced Thursday. Most of the allowance for facilities (leases and mortgages) for these schools comes from city tax dollars, adding up to $3,000 per student, but about $200 of that has come from federal funds, meant to improve school quality, in recent years.
“Ensuring that all D.C. public school students have access to a high-quality education has been a top priority of my administration,” Gray said in a statement according to the Washington Post. He said that learning environments are “stimulating and conducive to academic achievement” is part of this commitment.
The announcement guarantees that the city will pay for the full cost of facilities on these schools, which enroll 43 percent of the area’s students, freeing up the federal funds for other uses. The District’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education and the U.S. Department of education will work with charter leaders to allocate the funds.
Scott Pearson, executive director of the D.C. Public Charter School Board, said these funds could go to improving instruction or special-education services, for example.
“A lot of schools have bond obligations and debt obligations, so knowing that these funds are going to be there, year in and year out, is very important to their creditworthiness,” Pearson told to the Washington Post.
Young adults flock to D.C.
New census data shows that the District’s stable economy has drawn more adults than any other metropolitan area as older residents leave, according to the Washington Post. The median age of the D.C. metropolitan area is now 36 years.
“It’s a combination of coolness, high tech, and a place that probably has the prospect of staying economically above the water in the future,” said William Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer, to the Washington Post.
The population aged 25 to 34 averaged a net gain of more than 10,000 each of the three years of the onset of the recession, moving the District from 45th to first for the number of people in that age group. The net gain was higher than any other metropolitan area, including Houston, Denver, Austin, and Portland, according to the Washington Post.
About 7,000 people aged 55 and older left the area during that same period. Only New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago had higher numbers. Because of aging baby boomers, the total population of this group has increased by more than 50,000 in the District.
Bert Sperling, who produces rankings of best places to live, gave the Washington Post an explanation for this change.
“Times are tight now, and D.C. is a job-creation engine,” he said. The places that attract the most retirees are where the housing market collapsed and home prices are low.
FBI investigates Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
The FBI is investigating the authority overseeing Dulles International and Reagan Airports and the $5.6 billion Dulles rail project, which is extending the Metro to the airport, according to the Washington Post. FBI has not been able to either confirm or deny the investigation, but an authority spokesman said subpoenas have been served seeking some of the authority’s documents.
News of the probe, first reported by the Washington Examiner, arrived days before the expected federal inspector general’s report on the authority’s contracting and hiring policies. The last inspector general’s interim report, released in May, noted that there was minimal control on travel and entertainment expenditures.
This earlier report also questioned the authority’s conflict-of-interest and ethics policies, citing a no-bid contract “awarded to a law firm that employed the wife of a board member,” according to the Washington Post. The report also stated that board members did not obtain approval for $3 million in contracts that should have required a board vote.
Since the May report, the board has revised its travel and entertainment policies and is in the process of changing contract policies. Ray LaHood, Transportation Secretary, also appointed an officer to oversee the authority.
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