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Private Money To Fund Part Of Tentative DCPS Teacher Contract

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By Kavitha Cardoza

Four private foundations have promised to donate almost $65 million to fund a portion of the tentative contract agreement reached between D.C. Public School Chancellor Michelle Rhee and the Washington Teacher’s Union. But some teachers are worried about what happens when the money runs out.

Randi Weingarten, president of WTU’s parent organization the American Federation of Teachers, says private funding has been a part of education for decades.

"What is different about this is this is a much more significant level of funding in terms of the private sector and there are foundations that have traditionally said very derogatory things about collective bargaining," she says.

Weingarten says, in this economy, there was much more of an openness to using private funding. But the money would run out at the end of 2012.

That’s something on the minds of several educators, including Christopher Hill.

"The funding, I need to make sure the funding is there," he says.

Chancellor Michelle Rhee says most of the external funding is going to the voluntary pay-for-performance program and she‘s looked at a sustainability analysis.

"What we show is that through continuing efficiencies in the District, continuing to right-size the District, we are going to see savings in places that will allow us to continue this on," Rhee says. "When you look at the sustainability analysis, at no point do we see a funding cliff."

An outside financial firm will serve as an external set of eyes, and D.C’s chief financial officer will have to certify the numbers. Teachers will only vote on the agreement after that.

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