DC plans to close 20 schools, consolidating students to others - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

DC plans to close 20 schools, consolidating students to other schools

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Facing a growing challenge from the burgeoning charter school movement, the D.C. Public School system plans to close 20 schools, most of them at the beginning of next academic year.

The plan is to close schools in six of the city's eight wards. Interestingly, in D.C.'s most affluent area, Ward 3, city public schools are generally bursting with students.

In poorer areas of the city, public school buildings are usually under-utilized, because parents are increasingly placing their children in free charter schools.

"In some wards, more than half of all public school students are attending charter schools," Chancellor Kaya Henderson told reporters at a morning briefing. "And many of our charter schools have plans to continue to grow by grade level and by adding additional campuses."

Chancellor Henderson argues: it costs more money (per student) to keep under-enrolled schools open than she is comfortable with. For example, at M.C. Terrell-McGogney Elementary School, there are currently only 208 students enrolled -- about half the building is empty. Henderson says she would rather close this building, and invest in educational programs elsewhere.

"We need better special education programs," said Henderson. "We need more career and technical education programs. We need more alternative options for our young people who aren't succeeding in a traditional school setting. And we need more programs for our advanced learners."

Only one high school is on the closure list, Spingarn High. However, Chancellor Henderson said she wants to eventually reopen Spingarn as a "career and technical center." 

The D.C. Council will hold a hearing on the proposed school closures on Thursday. And there are a series of public meetings starting on November 27th.

The Chancellor does not want D.C. to dispose of the buildings to be closed. Demographers believe the 20-somethings who have moved into the city in recent years will soon be starting families. That means demand for public schools might increase in coming years.

Here is the list of schools slated for closing. 

Ward 2:
Francis Stevens Education Campus
Garrison Elementary School

Ward 4:
MacFarland Middle School
Sharpe Health School

Ward 5:
Mamie D. Lee School
CHOICE Academy at Hamilton
Marshall Elementary School
Spingarn High School
Spingarn STAY School

Ward 6:
Prospect Learning Center
Shaw Middle School @ Garnet-Patterson

Ward 7:
Davis Elementary School
Kenilworth Elementary School
Ron Brown Middle School
Smothers Elementary School
Winston Elementary School

Ward 8:
Ferebee Hope Elementary School
Johnson Middle School
Malcolm X Elementary School
MC Terrell/McGogney Elementary School


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