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STATEMENT OF HOBART M. CORNING, SUPERINTENDENT OF
SCHOOLS, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA; ACCOMPANIED BY CARL F. HANSEN, EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Mr. CORNING. May I ask the privilege of having Dr. Hansen sit by me?
Senator Cain. You may, indeed.
I think that you, Dr. Corning, have been at some of these hearings, so you pretty well know what we are looking for.
Mr. CORNING. Yes; I think so.
Senator Cain. We would like to have your best advised comsel in order that we may be helpful.
Mr. CORNING. Yes, sir.
Senator Cain. In connection with that, I think Mr. Bates and I would appreciate your proceeding as you think you can be most helpful to us and we trust you will not mind our asking a few questions as you go along.
Mr. CORNING. I would be happy if you will.
At one of the former hearings, I heard that you wanted a one-page summary of any presentation the Departments would make, and I therefore put into your hand a one-page summary of the points which I hope to raise with you this morning.
Senator Carn. I might stop you right there.
Mr. Fowler, that is the point I raised the other day for Mr. Bates and myself. We would appreciate a one-page summary from all Departments, covering the entire testimony, and Mr. Corning has just submitted such a summary to us.
Mr. FOWLER. Yes, sir.
Senator Cain. And obviously it will be very helpful, because we can go back through that when we are checking items on which we are in doubt.
Mr. FOWLER. That is what we are preparing for you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. CORNING. Then, if I may expand that statement, I would like to do so.
Senator Cain. Certainly.
I will say one thing: we have the officers of the school system here this morning for the reason that we are in a rather embarrassing situation because our Budget Officer, who has at his finger tips all of the information about our budget, past and projected into the future, is critically ill, and not able to be here. We are a little bit embarrassed, and there may be some fumbling for papers.
Mr. BATEs. That is all right.
Mr. CORNING. As superintendent of schools of the District of Columbia, I am submitting herewith information concerning the increase in costs of the public schools for the 10-year period 1937 to 1947, inclusive. In commenting upon these costs may I direct your attention to the fact that in the operation of public schools, just as in the operation of any business, costs have materially increased during this period. This applies to the construction of buildings. Experience with building projects shows an increase over the original estimates of 100 to 200 percent.
It also applies to the general operation of the schools. Everything we purchase, and all services which we employ cost very much more now than they did in 1937. The dollar which we use today produces less in the way of service to the children of the District than it did in 1937. In spite of the fact that the dollar now purchases so much less, the total cost of operating the schools has increased during the 10year period only 40.5 percent. On the capital outlay side there has been no appreciable increase. The annual appropriations for new construction, equipment, and sites have hovered around the $2,000,000 mark for each of the years in this period, except for the two war years, 1943 and 1944, when these appropriations were only approximately half a million dollars. It is true that the 1947 appropriation for capital outlay was $915,880 higher than the 1937 appropriation. However, in 1948 the budget estimates now before Congress drop again to $2,123,000.
The average for the 10-year period for capital outlay was $1,734,611 a year.
The increase above referred to of 40.5 percent for the 10-year period is in the general operation costs of the schools. In further explanation of these increases I submit for your consideration and for the record, tables I, II, and III, which I should like to go into with you in just a moment, if I may. The young lady will hand them to you.
Senator Cain. Thank you.
Mr. CORNING. Table I refers to the list of operating expenses of the schools for the 10-year period under consideration, the capitaloutlay cost, and the total for the public schools. If I may direct your attention for just a moment to the capital-outlay item, you will see there that the statement which I made is correct that the average for capital outlay, which hovered around the $2,000,000 mark, except for the 2 years 1913 and 1944, for the 10-year period is $1,731,611 a year.
Senator Caix. Well, it might be safely construed that your averages in 1916 and 1947 are in part to compensate for a lack of capital outlay which you spent during the two middle war years.
Mr. Corning. That is true, and it is also true that the money appropriated in recent years provides much less in the way of building than the same would have provided in former years.
Senator Cain. The capital outlay actually represents the dollars appropriated ?
Mr. CORNING. That is right.
Mr. CORNING. The 40.5 percent that I referred to is entirely in the column “Operating expenses,” where the increase in cost has been from $10,702,460 in 1937 to $15,037,972 in 1947.
Senator Cain. How much of that 40.5 percent is represented by wage and salary increases through those 10 years?
Mr. CORNING. In answering thật, may I refer you to table II, which follows imediately.
Senator Cain. If you are ready to go to table II.
There we find that the increase in personal services amounts to $3,448,018. In other words, 32.2 percent of the total 40.5 percent increase was attributable to personal services. That represents increases in wages and some increase in the amount of personnel, which I will go into a little bit later.
The other increase is $887,494, and by way of further break-down of that 40.5 percent, will you refer, please, to table III, where we analyze a little bit more completely, the 40.5 percent increase.
These are estimates, I may say, and as carefully drawn as can be, but I will not guarantee that they are right to the dollar or that they are absolutely accurate.
Senator Cain. Certainly.
Mr. CORNING. The approximate amount of increase required by law, skipping over to the last columns, was $2,901,968, or 67 percent attributable directly to increases required by law.
The approximate amount of increases because of rise in prices other than personal services was 4.9 percent, or $214,352.
The approximate amount of increases provided to operate new facilities, that is new buildings that were constructed during the 10-year period, is 17.3 percent.
The approximate amount of increases provided for other purposes, including maintenance of buildings, equipment, and so forth, is 10.8 percent.
I would like to say that in maintenance of buildings, there are some personal services items that are pretty difficult to segregate. For instance, when the repair shop does a job for us, it is pretty difficult to break it down into labor charges and determine the personal services which are included in that 10.8 percent.
(The tables above referred to are as follows:)
TABLE 1.-Public school appropriations from 1937 to 1947
1 Pending deficiencies are not included.
NOTE.-For comparative purposes all funds appropriated for the Community Center Department and for playgrounds and recreation centers have been excluded from this statement, because beginning in 1943, all such funds have been appropriated under the Recreation Department instead of the public schools. This statement does not include any Federal grants.
Table II.-Appropriations, amounts of increases, and percentages of increase in
public school operating expenses appropriations for 1947, as compared with 1937
age of increase
Total operating expenses.
$12, 437, 403 $3, 448, 018
2,600.569 887, 494 15, 037, 972 4,335, 512
10, 702, 460
1 Does not include pending deficiencies. Már. 19, 1947.
TABLE III.-Reasons for increase of $4,335,512 provided in public schools
operating expenses appropriations from 1937 to 1947
Mr. CORNING. If there are no questions on those tables, may I say that it would seem that the over-all increase in the cost of schools for the 10-year period is accounted for almost entirely by the increased cost of doing business and to a very minor degree to any added services during that period.
It is not possible to consider the cost of education in the last 10-year period as disassociated from the condition in which the schools now find themselves. It is very evident that the schools have not been extravagant in their expenditures. It is equally evident if conditions in the schools are carefully scrutinized, that the appropriations through the years have been too meager to assure satisfactory service to the children of the District of Columbia.
May I invite your attention to the condition of the physical plant. The annual appropriations for capital outlay of approximately $2,000,000 a year have not made it possible to provide an adequate plant. The following very unsatisfactory conditions exist at the present time:
The first heading is "Obsolete Buildings." We hold school at the present time in some buildings which are inadequate as to light, ventilation, and sanitation. Some of these buildings date back to the Civil War.
Some of them were recommended for abandonment as early as 1908 and are still in use. Not only are the health and safety of the children impaired because of the conditions of these buildings, but they are so poorly suited to a modern program of education that the training of children attending them is unsatisfactory.
Half day sessions: Because of the shortage of buildings, we now have in the Nation's Capital, 7,000 school children who are privileged to attend school only half time; approximately half of them attend in the morning and the same facilities are used in the afternoon by the others.
Overcrowded buildings: In some schools, although a full day of instruction is provided for all students, the buildings are so overcrowded, resulting in classes of extreme size, that the children cannot
receive any individual instruction, and the over-all facilities and services of the school are greatly overtaxed in respect to the toilet facilities, the lockers, the corridors, and the service rooms, and so forth.
Another item is the absence of schools in new areas of the city.
In some newly developed areas of the city where large numbers of children now reside, school facilities have not yet been provided.
About a year ago Engineer Commissioner General Gordon R. Young submitted a report on better Washington in which one chapter deals with the school housing situation in the District of Columbia. In that chapter General Young stated that:
Our public schools are characterized by a remarkable mixture of modern and antiquated buildings and equipment, and by an acute but unbalanced shortage of space.
At that point, with your permission, I would like to submit, although you may have it in another form, that chapter of General Young's report which deals with school buildings, because it looks at the schoolbuilding needs which we now have.
I would like to call your attention to the fact that every item included in that report is based upon an existing need. If we were being farsighted, I think we would be anticipating some needs in the future, but none of them are included.
That is just to take care of the immediate needs covering enrollment which we now have.
Senator Caix. Just one moment, please.
Senator Cain. I would suggest that there is no apparent need to include this in its entirety, for you refer to where it is readily available, and the fact that each of us has a copy should be sufficient.
Mr. Corning. That is all right. That was my intention.
Mr. BATES. Mr. Chairman, I think this information is so important, relative to the facilities for the school system, which is an old story in practically every community of the comtry, as shown in the increased population, I would like to have this part of the record.
Senator Cain. That is all right. It will be received.
Mr. BATEs. So that we can have an over-all understanding of this most important subject.
Senator Cain. That is all right, and will be very satisfactory.
Mr. BATES. I want to get into the question of projecting the schoolbuilding program in relation to the present needs at a little later time.
(The document above referred to is as follows:)
GENERAL YOUNG'S PROGRAM
A, PRESENT SITUATION
7.1. The public-school system of the District is under the Board of Education, an autonomous agency consisting of nine citizens who serve without compensation. The administrative head, who reports to the Board, is the Superintendent of Schools.
7.2. The system-in addition to the superintendent, his staff, and certain overhead and service agencies-includes the following:
(a) Two teachers' colleges (Wilson and Miner).