DCPS in $23 million budget deficit

Joanna Chait and Emily Mulderig

DCPS’s budget for this year is on track to be overspent by more than $23 million. They have until September 30th (the end of the fiscal year) to make up that money. When the situation became public over the summer, it was heavily criticized by DC  education council chairman. 

The loss was credited to hiring costs. Teachers rated “effective” and “highly effective” through district evaluations earn a higher salary. According to DCPS officials, more teachers met this standard than originally anticipated and paying the extra higher salaries caused them to overspend. The district also retained more experienced teachers, who earn more money than new employees. Staff members performing additional services, such as extra teaching, cost the system more money. 

DC Council members and other officials criticized the Central Office, claiming that the issue could have been addressed before the situation was this far out of hand. DCPS’s financial responsibility and foresight were questioned. The deficit could be a potential concern for the city budget, given that schooling is DC’s largest expense. DCPS and the mayor’s office are looking to use city funding to help cover the cost. The budget is expected to rise by 4.3% in the coming year say DC officials, after working out the budget for the next fiscal year. 

Fortunately, DCPS has reported that the overall budget should not impact the budgets given to individual schools. So, schools won’t feel the immediate effects of the insufficiency. The chancellor maintains that students will not be shortchanged by the situation. 

“It hasn’t impacted schools,” confirms Martin. She explained that “[Wilson’s] budget process was already complete” when the news broke, and therefore Wilson won’t be directly impacted.