D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray on Thursday proposed spending $442 million on school construction in the coming fiscal year, as well as $79 million more on schools' daily operations and $7.4 million for charter school facilities.
Among the construction projects proposed for fiscal 2014 is $85 million toward the construction of a new Ballou Senior High School in Ward 8, whose groundbreaking was Tuesday, $38 million toward a $127 million renovation of Roosevelt High School in Ward 4 and upgrades at 15 elementary schools and six middle schools.
The projects are part of $1.8 billion Gray has proposed spending to renovate existing schools and build new ones over the next six years, following $2.5 billion that already has been spent on DC Public Schools' construction plans.
But at-large D.C. Councilman David Catania, chairman of the council's Education Committee, questioned whether all the money being spent on school expansions was being spent wisely. He pointed to Ballou, where roughly half the seats are filled, and Coolidge High School -- slated for renovations in fiscal 2015, 2016 and 2017 -- where 41 percent of the seats are filled.