Share

Local: Education

15 public schools to be closed in D.C.

|
Local,DC,Education,Rachel Baye

DC Public Schools plans to close 15 of its schools, affecting 2,341 students, as it looks to shut schools that are underenrolled to save money on items like building maintenance and staffing.

Thirteen of the schools will close at the end of the school year and another two a year later, Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced Thursday.

Five schools on the list of 20 that Henderson released in November -- Smothers Elementary School in Ward 7, Garrison Elementary in Ward 2, Johnson Middle in Ward 8, Francis-Stevens Education Campus in Ward 2 and Malcolm X Elementary in Ward 8 -- will remain open.

Source: DC Public Schools

Schools closing in 2013
Ward School Enrollment 2010-2011 Enrollment 2011-2012 Enrollment 2012-2013 Capacity
4 MacFarland Middle School 180 201 151 610
5 Marshall Elementary School 140 161 158 480
5 CHOICE at Hamilton 30 23 8 Not Given
5 Spingarn STAY High School 551 480 377 Not Given
6 Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson 188 155 131 480
6 Prospect Learning Center 86 101 83 350
7 Davis Elementary School 180 184 178 449
7 Kenilworth Elementary School 178 178 147 402
7 Winston Education Campus 324 312 308 550
7 Ron Brown Middle School 197 230 204 892
8 Ferebee-Hope Elementary School 318 239 215 400
8 M.C. Terrell/McGogney Elementary School 255 212 208 400
Schools closing in 2014
Ward School Enrollment 2010-2011 Enrollment 2011-2012 Enrollment 2012-2013 Capacity
4 Sharpe Health School 100 91 85 400
5 Mamie D. Lee School 83 110 96 300

However, Francis-Stevens will merge with the School Without Walls to serve students in prekindergarten through 12th grade.

Malcolm X will partner with a "high-performing" charter school nearby, Henderson said. She would not say which charter school, though Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry said the school will partner with Achievement Preparatory Academy Public Charter School, a top-tier charter school. A representative of Achievement Prep could not be reached for comment.

The school system also plans to begin providing bus transportation, Henderson said. Students currently attending Davis Elementary in Ward 7 will take the bus to their new school, Plummer Elementary; students at Kenilworth Elementary in Ward 7 to Neval Thomas Elementary; and students at Marshall Elementary in Ward 5 will have buses to Langdon Education Campus.

Henderson spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz said DCPS does not know how many students will take the bus or how much it will cost.

Since the list of potential closures was announced, parents and community members have raised concerns that the move marks a decline in the availability of traditional public schools. Several D.C. Council members reiterated those concerns.

"Charter schools came here because DCPS dropped the ball," said Ward 7 Councilwoman Yvette Alexander.

Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser criticized the declining number of traditional public schools in her ward. "We're lucky that we have high-quality charter schools in our ward, but our children aren't guaranteed a seat there," she said.

The District cannot allow students at the closed schools to flock to charter schools, as they did when DCPS closed 23 schools in 2008,

said Council Chairman Phil Mendelson.

But the closings, representing 12 percent of DCPS campuses, could aid the expansion of public charter schools, whose enrollment has grown 61 percent to 35,018 over the last five years.

Though Henderson said she intends to keep all closed school buildings, she said she would consider leasing them to charter schools, which have expressed interest.

The closings will save DCPS $19.4 million but cost $10.9 million, resulting in a net $8.5 million annual savings, Henderson said. That does not include the cost of busing.

Education finance expert Mary Levy disagreed. Although DCPS will save $8.5 million on staff, the net savings probably will be between $1 and $2 million after the schools shell out for the costs of moving, storage and transportation, she said.

But ultimately, the closings are not just about saving money, Henderson said.

"We've heard from people who treat consolidation like a simple math problem and want to argue about whether we save a lot or save a little or save nothing at all. That's not how I look at this," she said. "I have a vision, which is consistent with the community's vision, to reinvest in our schools, to ensure that across the city, students have access to the same diverse coursework and enriching educational opportunities."

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment