ANC6B Holds Emergency Sunday Meeting to Save Funding For Payne
by Larry Janezich
ANC6B Chair Brian Flahaven convened the ANC’s Executive Committee on Sunday afternoon in emergency session to authorize sending a letter to the DC City Council urging support for a proposal by Mayor Gray and DC School Chancellor Henderson to reprogram unneeded school funds in wards 4 and 7 and use them to complete school modernization in Wards 6 and 8.
Update: On Monday, December 15, CM Yvette Alexander announced Mayor Gray had rescinded the reprogramming. See here: http://bit.ly/1qW9v3U
Nine million dollars of the $16 million in question would allow the completion of modernization of Payne Elementary School, the first phase of which took place in FY14. Funds for completion were not included in the FY15 budget. The proposal would allow all Payne students to have access to modernized classrooms and make the school compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act by adding an elevator, new ramps, and a connector bridging the two wings of the school.
Mayor Gray and Henderson say that the reprogramming would not threaten new schools in Wards 7 and 4 where the funds were originally allocated. None the less, Council Member Yvette Alexander of Ward 7 has introduced a resolution of disapproval of the reprogramming which will be considered by the Council on Wednesday, December 17.
The ANC’s letter avoided criticizing Alexander, saying only, “We are particularly disappointed at some of the rhetoric being used to describe this reprogramming, including a statement that funding is being taken away from Ward 7 students. In addition to serving Ward 6 students, Payne Elementary School serves a significant number of Ward 7 students, including students who live in the Temporary Emergency Family Homeless Shelter at DC General located in Ward 7. These students, many of whom live in extreme poverty, deserve to go to a school that is fully modernized and accessible.”
Others were not so reticent. Long time Hill activist Jim Myers posted to the newhilleast listserv the following: “Is it possible that Ward 7 Council Member Yvette Alexander does not even know that Ward 7 children have been attending Payne School, even though it is in Ward 6? The DC General Family shelter and other facilities on Res. 13 have been part of Ward 7 since the last redistricting by City Council….So now it seems that Alexander wants to deny modernization funds for the school that little Relisha Rudd attended, because it is in Ward 6. For shame.” And ANC6B 10 Commissioner elect Denise Krepp – who attended Sunday’s meeting – “It seems terribly un-Christian to take this funding away from the children who attend Payne in this holiday season.”