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Gray wants D.C. schools to shed 'agrarian concept'

Friday - 4/27/2012, 7:48pm  ET

(WTOP/Paul D. Shinkman)

Ask the Mayor

D.C. Mayor Vince Gray speaks with WTOP's Mark Segraves


WASHINGTON - Some D.C. school days could extend to as late as 5 p.m. next school year if the mayor gets his wish.

Working with Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, Mayor Vince Gray hopes to implement pilot programs in D.C. Public Schools that would keep students in classes until 4:30 p.m. or 5 p.m., he said on WTOP's "Ask the Mayor" program Friday.

"We need to get away from an agrarian concept" of children who need to be home in the evenings and during the summer to help with chores, the mayor said.

Gray also pointed to the burden of the current ratio of more than 200 school buildings for roughly 76,000 students.

"I don't know how many we will close," he says, but the city will shutter some facilities in the near future.

Gray also noted the alarming rise in family homelessness in the city. In the last year, the rate of homeless families has climbed 40 to 50 percent.

"Much of this is a product of the economy," the mayor says.

In response, D.C. has developed 1,100 new affordable housing units and another 1,100 is upcoming, Gray says. The city has also bolstered the rent subsidy fund, and the housing trust fund that provides grants and loans to those who want to build affordable housing.

The mayor also discussed a suspect he believes is related to the recent Petworth assaults. Learn more by following this link.

See what he had to say on the racist tweets against the Capitals' Joel Ward by following this link.

Check out these other topics Gray discussed, and the full blog below:

10:58 a.m., while speaking about the infant mortality rate:

We're down to 8 out of 1,000. The national average is 6.1. "It's phenomenal news."

10:55 a.m., while speaking about hiding speed cameras in D.C. and its high fines:

The tactic is legal. I've been public in saying I'd be happy to give people an orientation.

The goal here is to slow people down.

It's amazing to see how people hit the brake lights when they come up to a speed camera area.

This is not a revenue generator. When it comes to the $150 fine, "if you don't break the law, it doesn't matter what the fine is because you don't have to pay it."

10:54 a.m., while speaking about Jim Graham's report that others helped Harry Thomas Jr.:

It's an ongoing investigation. If Mr. Graham has more information, he should put it on the table.

You don't want to have investigations tripping over one another and muddying the process.

10:51 a.m., while speaking about the sentencing of Harry Thomas Jr., charged with stealing $3 million in tax money intended for inner-city youth:

I knew him and his father, also a former councilmember, and his mother, a former principal. "The whole thing continues to be an enigma for me."

I think his sentencing should be left to the courts.

"He's spent a lot of his time coaching kids."

The nature of the crime and his history has to be taken into consideration.

The federal investigation against me has nothing to do with my actions.

10:41a.m., while speaking about helping at-risk children who don't have a place to eat and sleep, and other homeless people:

The issue probably relates to the number of families who are homeless. That number as increased.

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