Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Compromised Position

In the ongoing tussle over more than $57 million in city funding, the City Council's budget committee this morning approved a compromise.

Under the terms of the compromise, the city schools would give the city $57.5 million from its reserve fund. The city would then allocate that money back to the school system to meet a state maintenance of effort clause and save the city schools from staring down the gun barrel of a $423 million state funding cut in October.

"The ball will be in MCS' court to fund it," council attorney Allan Wade said. "If they do not fund it, it will be their choice to not fund it."

But when council member Barbara Swearengen Ware asked if the school system was in agreement with the compromise, there seemed to be some reluctance from the district.

"The $57.5 million would satisfy the maintenance of effort test," said Irving Hamer, the district's deputy superintendent of academic operations. "The amount under dispute is how much the district will send the city."

Hamer later said that the committee meeting was the first time he had seen the proposed resolution in writing and that "neither I nor my colleagues are in a position to say that we accept."

"I've read it enough to know it doesn't really solve our financial problem," Hamer concluded.

But committee members decided to go ahead and approve the resolution, sending it on to the full council.

"This will allow them to get their full $423 million from the state," Wade said. "It is not intended to solve every problem MCS has. That's what the lawsuit is about."

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