Local: Education

D.C. to close 15 schools, including Spingarn, MacFarland, Ron Brown

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Local,DC,Education,Rachel Baye

D.C. Public Schools plans to close 13 schools at the end of the school year and another two one year later, Chancellor Kaya Henderson announced Thursday.

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

However, Francis Stevens will merge with the selective School Without Walls to serve students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Students who attend Francis Stevens through middle school will still need to apply to continue at School Without Walls for high school, Henderson said.

Malcolm X will partner with a "high-performing" charter school nearby, Henderson said. She would not say which charter school.

Schools closing in 2013
Ward School
4 MacFarland Middle School
5 Marshall Elementary School
5 CHOICE at Hamilton
5 Spingarn STAY High School
6 Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson
6 Prospect Learning Center
7 Davis Elementary School
7 Kenilworth Elementary School
7 Winston Education Campus
7 Ron Brown Middle School
8 Ferebee-Hope Elementary School
8 MC Terrell-McGogney Elementary School
Schools closing in 2014
Ward School
5 Marnie D Lee School
4 Sharpe Health School

Though charter schools are required to have open enrollment -- meaning no neighborhood students have guaranteed seats -- Henderson said that policy might not apply in the case of Malcolm X. Admissions policies are still being worked out.

The school system also plans to begin providing bus transportation for some students as a result of the closings, Henderson announced. Students currently attending Davis Elementary in Ward 7 will have access to transportation to their new school, Plummer Elementary; students at Kenilworth Elementary in Ward 7 will have bus service to Nevel Thomas Elementary, and students at Marshall Elementary in Ward 5 will have buses to Langdon Education Campus.

DCPS will not sell any of its closed school buildings, but Henderson said she will consider leasing them to charter schools, which have expressed interest in leasing them.

In total, the school closings will save D.C. Public Schools $19.4 million but cost $10.9 million, resulting in a net $8.5 million annual savings, Henderson said.

But ultimately, the closings are not just about saving money, she 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

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Rachel Baye

Staff Writer - Education
The Washington Examiner