Now that the District has found a way to come up with the $38.8 million needed to fund teacher salaries, pay raises and bonuses, the new teacher contract that was tentatively agreed upon last month by Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Washington Teachers Union can most likely proceed. At this point, its only detriment would be if WTU expresses last-minute dissatisfaction over terms involved.
Part of the new-found money will be extracted from President Barack Obama’s stimulus package as well as other federal coffers. Funding will also be gleaned from District public schools programs that will not necessarily use up all of their Fiscal Year 2010-11 allocations.
The contract among other priorities provides a 20 percent pay raise over a five-year period.
The money has been certified by the city’s Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi, and comes on the heels of several back-and-forth wrangling over the past month between Rhee and Gandhi over its availability.
Gandhi said that in order for the contract to reach fiscal certification, the school system had to work with funds in-hand.
“DCPS was able to pinpoint $38.8 million in funds to address the spending pressures, budget concerns and actual funds needed to sustain the contract,” he said.
“We certified that are legally available. . . In addition, we have also put controls in place to guarantee the teachers do not have to be concerned about the city meeting its contractual obligations.”
Initially, the money was poised to be donated by a group of private foundations in exchange for regular updates on the troubled, 47,000-student school system.
But because of those and other requirements, that deal fell prey to some changes. However, once the contract meets the City Council and WTU’s approval, the foundations will offer up $16 million to support teacher pay raises.
Rhee said the contract enables that teachers will be treated as true professionals—“with high standards, strong, guaranteed support to help them succeed in the classroom, and compensation at the high levels they deserve.” She also credited the contract’s funders for their shared vision surrounding her thrust at reform.
The next step in the contract involves a vote on ratification by WTU members. Once they are mailed, the 4,000 members will have 15 days to return their ballot.