Morning Read: Looking Into The Closure Of 20 D.C. Schools

The big news coming out of D.C. Tuesday is the announcement that 20 District schools are being considered for closure.

Enrollment numbers have been dwindling in the school system over the last few decades, most recently because students have been enrolling in charter schools in large numbers. In fact, as the charts from the DCPS show below, as enrollment in comprehensive schools has decreased overall in the last decade (enrollment numbers have remained relatively steady the last couple years) while enrollment in charter schools has jumped.

By comparison, here is the average enrollment per building for nearby school districts and comparable ones throughout the country

News4 has a full list of all schools slated to close by ward in the next two years here.

DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson says these 20 schools are “wildly underenrolled,” forcing resources to be “stretched too thin.”

“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.”

According to the announcement, 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."

We can expect some parent push back from this announcement and residents will be able to give their input at two D.C. Council hearings (November 15 at 4 p.m. and November 19 at 2 p.m.). DCPS has also created a website where residents can leave comments.

The decision to reallocate resources and shutter these schools did, however, receive kudos from the Post editorial board. Before details were released as to which schools would be closed, the Board wrote the closures are much needed:

“The shuttering of a beloved school can be one of the hardest blows to a neighborhood. But some schools have to close, and facts ought to trump emotion or nostalgia in the process.”

It is still unclear what will be done with the vacated school buildings, but Henderson indicated that at least some of them will serve as community centers.

The proposed closures are scattered throughout the District; two in Ward 2, two in Ward 4, four in Ward 5, two in Ward 6, five in Ward 7, and four in Ward 8. There is only one high school on the list, Spingarn High School in Ward 5. This is the same high school that has been in the news for the city’s proposal to build a barn facility of sorts for the H Street-Benning Road streetcar line on the campus. The car barn was supposed to have a training facility for students to learn about streetcar engineering.

Henderson said this particular idea hasn’t been abandoned yet and the DCPS is looking into creating a "transportation career and technical education center"  Still, as the Washington Examiner points out, Spingarn High would be leaving behind a rich basketball history.

In 2008, D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee closed 23 schools in the District.

ICYMI: Make sure to read Mike DeBonis's five takeaways from the DCPS closings.


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