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D.C.'s C.F.O.: "There Is No $34 Million Surplus"

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By Kavitha Cardoza

Just a few days ago, Chancellor Michelle Rhee told council members there was a $34 million in the D.C. Public School's budget to help fund the union contract agreement. But now the Chief Financial Officer says there is no such surplus.

In a sternly worded letter to Rhee, Dr. Natwar Gandhi says he was "incredulous" when he learned she had said a surplus would help fund the salary increases proposed in the union agreement. He says a projected underspending of $34 million is balanced out by more than $30 million in overspending.

George Parker, President of the Washington Teacher's Union, had just finished talking to teachers about the contract for about four hours when he heard the news.

"This is getting crazier and crazier!," shouts Parker.

But Parker insists this will not affect the contract.

"There has never been a linkage between a surplus and what we negotiated at the table. We were clearly told the funds would come from appropriated dollars they get from the city and the additional dollars from private funders. And that's what we expect there to be," he says.

The CFO's office has to sign off on the funding before teachers can vote on the contract.

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