ORD2016-092 is scheduled on the consent agenda tonight (3/28) and should be approved. This would provide much needed additional revenues to school coffers for operations and facilities, improve accountability in returning funds from school property sales to schools, and increase government transparency.
1. Additional Revenues for Schools: Since 2005, the School Board has closed 17 schools in an effort to right-size the district. The goal for surplus city-owned buildings and land is to leverage them as economic and community generators. This amendment would not change that goal, but would provide a direct path for revenues gained too much needed investment in our school facilities and operation.
This would be an incremental step to redirecting dollars and would not impact the long-range study on school funding being conducted by the Mayor.
2. Accountability: Holding RPS Administration and School Board representatives accountable can only be accomplished if we give them the tools to act. The current system of resale is broken and unclear on where profits gained for former school properties are directed. A clear policy on where revenues gained on the sale of former school properties should be established.
3. Transparency: Transparency is more easily obtained with fewer governmental layers. Instead of the inner-city fighting over general fund dollar allocation each year, we need to have a clear system where revenues generated from a certain use (e.g. school property sales) go back into funding costs (e.g. school maintenance).
This is done with the understanding that not all revenues sources should be predetermined or earmarked. Effective government administration needs freedom to assess and direct revenues where necessary, but ORD2016-092 is an incremental action and far from being overreaching and hamstringing administration.