Chris Gordon reports on a plan to consolidate schools in the District.
Twenty D.C. schools - most in wards 5 and 7 - could close, most before the next school year, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced Tuesday. The proposed closures include one high school: Spingarn High School on Benning Road in Ward 5.
The closing schools are: Francis-Stevens Educational Campus, Garrison Elementary, MacFarland Middle, Sharpe Health School, Mamie D. Lee School, C.H.O.I.C.E. at Hamilton, Marshall Elementary, Spingarn High, Spingarn STAY, Prospect Learning Center, Shaw at Garnet-Patterson, Davis Elementary, Kenilworth Elementary, Ron Brown Middle, Smothers Elementary, Winston Education Campus, Ferebee-Hope Elementary, Johnson Middle, Malcolm X Elementary and MC Terrell-McGogney Elementary.
See a map of the affected schools, and which schools are planned to receieve the students.
The proposal now goes to Mayor Vincent Gray who would have to approve the closures. There also will be two council hearings and four community hearings on the proposal.
Students in those schools will be reassigned to another school. Most reassignments will be made for the next school year, which begins in the fall of 2013. However, Sharpe Health School and Mamie D. Lee School will close and send students to other schools in 2014.
The school district says it has far more facilities than it needs. Currently, the District educates about 45,000 public school students in 117 buildings, and, until a slight rise in recent years, enrollment has consistently declined for 40 years.
“The challenge we face in DCPS is clear – our buildings are wildly under-enrolled, our resources are stretched too thin and we’re not providing the complement of academic supports that our students and families deserve,” said DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson in a press release. “Consolidating schools is our best option to better utilize our facilities and work more efficiently for our schools, our teachers, our students and our city.”
The statement said that 45 percent of DCPS schools have only one teacher per grade level, "making shared planning time impossible and forcing teachers to work on lesson plans by themselves."
A report commissioned by Mayor Vincent Gray early this year recommended closing low-performing schools. That report found that the D.C. system had more than enough seats for students - but not nearly enough seats in high-performing schools. The study called this imbalance a "service gap, and that gap is worst in Wards 7, 8 and 5, the study found.
City Councilmembers were briefed earlier Tuesday on the list of closing schools.
“The residents of Ward 5 were hit pretty hard in 2008,” Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie told News4. “I want to make sure that the community is fully engaged in this process, to the extent that they weren’t the last time around.”
“I’m going to be meeting with the community," McDuffie said. "I plan to continue to meet with DCPS and Chancellor Henderson."
He said one of his concerns was how parents would deal with transportation if their children were attending schools further away from their homes. Students from the one closing high school, Spingarn High in Ward 5, will be reassigned to Eastern, Dunbar, and Woodson High schools.
Spingarn has become a Northeast Washington landmark and had a number of well-known graduates including NBA player and manager Elgin Baylor and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.
Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander said she was concerned about overcrowding at the schools receiving the reassigned students, and was curious about why some schools had such small enrollments.
One of the closing schools in her ward is Ron Brown Middle School. The school is named after the Clinton-era cabinet official from D.C. who died in a plane crash in 1996 - and who is also At-Large D.C. Councilmember Michael Brown’s father.
The councilmember told News4’s Chris Gordon that he hoped the name would continue at another D.C. school in the future.
View List Of D.C. Public Schools To Close in a full screen map