D.C. forecasts charter school shortfall of $20.5m

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

The District is facing a potential budget shortfall of more than $20 million in its public charter schools, city officials said Tuesday.

"It's due entirely to enrollment going up higher than projected," said Eric Goulet, Mayor Vincent Gray's budget director, told lawmakers. "We projected in the budget an increase in enrollment. Enrollment has actually surprised us and the experts."

Although an audit of enrollment figures has not been completed, education officials projected in October that charter school enrollment had climbed by 11 percent to 35,019 students. The District has budgeted $542 million for charter schools for the current fiscal year.

Mayor Vincent Gray said the threatened shortfall, which Goulet said stood at $20.5 million, was not a pressing concern.

"I don't think it's bad news at all because what it says is public education is growing," Gray said.

City law requires that the District balance its budget each fiscal year, and the District said it would continue to monitor the "spending pressure" and adjust its budget accordingly. The fiscal year concludes Sept. 30.

In the most recent fiscal cycle, Gray used millions of dollars in surprise revenue to close budget gaps.

Goulet said the District had acted last week to find funding for a special election the city will hold next year. Had the city not responded, Goulet said, the special election would have triggered an $832,000 shortfall.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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Alan Blinder

Staff Reporter, D.C. City Hall
The Washington Examiner