Council Won't Strip Fenty's Authority Over Schools

Elected school board likely to stay on the sidelines

By TOM SHERWOOD
|  Monday, Sep 21, 2009  |  Updated 8:11 PM EDT
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Council Won't Strip Fenty's Authority Over Schools

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Sometimes the Council -- when they let him do what he wants -- is Fenty's friend.

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Council Won't Strip Fenty's Authority Over Schools

The D.C. Council's plan to strip Mayor Adrian Fenty of some of his authority over the public schools system appears to be dead.
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WASHINGTON -- The D.C. Council's plan to strip Mayor Adrian Fenty of some of his authority over the public schools system appears to be dead.

Despite a summer-long political fight, sources said when the Council returns from recess and meets Tuesday, it will not override a veto to shift some of that power to the elected school board -- a huge political victory on school reform for the mayor.

"I don't have any of the specifics on what the Council is thinking or doing," Fenty said. "That's obviously something you have to ask the Council, but  I have said since Day 1 that this council has been extremely cooperative and supportive, especially around education."

Two years ago, Fenty was granted five years of control to pursue school reforms.

"Objectively, the chancellor [Michelle Rhee] has made a lot of improvements, and we can document those, but she's always the first to say that there's tons of work to be done, and we're excited about continuing that work," Fenty said.

Despite some complaints on the pace and tenor of school reform, most Council members appear ready to back the mayor as they complete backroom discussions.

"Certainly a lot of conversations today about that," said Councilman Jack Evans. "My personal preference, though, is to support what the mayor's position is. "I think it's not a good time for the Council to change what we put in place only two years ago."

The Council will take up the school issue Tuesday when it votes on the city's $9 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Several closed-door meetings were still in progress Monday afternoon at the Council.

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