School Closure Community Meetings

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In November D.C. School Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced the proposed closing of 20 schools.  At the end of the month she held four community meetings where parents, teachers, students and District residents could attend to voice their opinions about the closings.  The first was held on November 27 at Savoy elementary school in Ward 8, a second meeting was held at Sousa middle school in Ward 7 on November 28 and a third meeting at McKinley senior high on November 29 in Ward 5. The last meeting was held at Brightwood education campus on December 5th.

Typical community meetings have been held in a town hall format, but Henderson and her staff organized the meetings in break-out style so everyone could voice their concerns in small groups, while one of Henderson’s staffers recorded the information and a spokesman for the group spoke before the larger body of people. The discussions were facilitated by a DCPS staffer leading the dialogue around three main questions: [1] What has DCPS not thought about; [2] What can be done to strengthen the proposal; and [3] What could make the transition smoother.

Many parents are opposed to the closings because they believe their children will be forced into charter schools or have to attend schools out of their neighborhood district.

When schools close the city has the choice of what to do with the vacant building. When Rhee was Chancellor and closed schools she often left them in surplus and the building would be sent to the Executive Office of the Mayor for a request for proposal (RFP) for a potential developer to bid on the school and develop it.  However, there is another option that Henderson is choosing, keeping the closed schools in DCPS inventory and leasing them out, in hopes that the city’s population in those areas will resurge.

In Ward 8 there are four schools due to close, Malcolm X, Ferrbie-Hope, Johnson and Marcy Church Terrell, but it is unknown of the future of these schools.  When Old Congress Heights School closed down, developers were able to bid and today the school holds Imagine Public Charter School, where enrollment has increased every year since its opening in 2011.  In ward 6, Hines Elementary went through the same restructuring.

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