DC Schools Hear From Communities as Consolidation Nears

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(credit: Dave Einsel/Getty Images)

(credit: Dave Einsel/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Plans for the D.C. Public Schools landscape is changing rapidly, but the head of the school systems says there’s still time for public input to be taken into account before finalizing plans to consolidate twenty schools.

D.C. Chancellor Kaya Henderson has scheduled four ward-based meetings to hear concerns from the communities being most-affected by a transition that will consolidate eight elementary schools, four middle schools, one high school, two education campuses, one Stay program, the CHOICE program and three special education campuses.

“This proposal is a conversation with our communities,” said Henderson. “We need to hear from families and community members. We are relying deeply on community feedback and engagement to ensure our success.

The aim for Henderson is to give all students a better experience, stressing the need to utilize the system’s resources more effectively to establish a flexible district that can account for future population growth. She mentioned one of the biggest challenges the city currently faces is “wildly under-enrolled” schools that are under-served by resources that are “stretched too thin.”

“To achieve our goals of a great school for every single student, we have to use all of our resources well – every dollar, every building, and every minute of instructional time.  As our schools are currently organized, we can’t achieve our goals,” said Henderson.

Henderson says by consolidating these schools, the issue of strained resources will be greatly diminished. Currently 45 percent of schools in D.C. have only one teacher per grade level, making it impossible for teachers to share lesson plans.

45 percent, or nearly half, 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, limited their ability to give individual focus to struggling learners.

“We’re not providing the complement of academic supports that our students and families deserve,” said Henderson. “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 changes – most of which will go into effect during the 2013-14 school year – are also a response to modernization issues the school system is struggling to combat.  Since 2007, and a city-wide investment of over $1.3 billion, nearly 20,000 students still attend schools that need modernization, or almost half the schools in the city.

Henderson announced her plan to consolidate D.C. Public Schools earlier in the month but discuss specifics with the City Council before giving the public a chance to speak on the matter.

These open-house style meetings begin Tuesday evening, with all meeting dates and locations listed below:

  • Ward 8 Community Dialogue – Savoy Elementary School – 2400 Shannon Place, SE – Nov. 27, 6-8 p.m.
  • Ward 7 Community Dialogue – Sousa Middle School – 3650 Ely Place, SE – Nov. 28, 6-8 p.m.
  • Ward 5 Community Dialogue – Langley Educational Campus – 101 T St., NE – Nov. 29, 6-8 p.m.
  • Wards 1-4, 6 Community Dialogue – Brightwood Educational Campus – 1300 Nicholson St., NW – Dec. 5, 6-8 p.m.
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