The Mayor released her proposed budget today, and it contained a big surprise. The Mayor is proposing to create a new public elementary school at the Hardy Park site — next to the Old Hardy building, which would remain with the Lab School. In other words, the Mayor proposes two freestanding schools on the same site. Additional background information from DCPS is found below.

The good news is that the city is recognizing the need for a new elementary school that will serve the Palisades/Foxhall community. The bad news – lost green space, heavy usage on the site, and lost renovation funds for Key and Stoddert from last year’s budget. 

There’s also a larger financial concern. Consider that the Old Hardy building is the same design as Mann Elementary’s historic building. Mann was renovated for $37M a few years back. Building a standalone school on a new site at Hardy Park will apparently cost $56M. So, even if we assume reasonable inflation, we’re talking about a $15M premium being paid by DC to allow the Lab School to stay where it is. And we still don’t even know what lease terms the Mayor’s Office is extending to Lab for it’s proposed extension. I’m guessing it won’t cover the $15M premium. 

One other sort of related surprise of the day — apparently the undisclosed purchaser of the GDS lower school campus is delayed in closing the deal and maybe on track to back out. GDS is set to leave their Macarthur Blvd campus after the current school year.

Tectonic shifts are afoot.

Melody Molinoff was able to talk with a DCPS representative this afternoon and passed on the following details:

The new Foxhall ES will be co-located on the Old Hardy site. The Lab School will continue to occupy the Old Hardy building. The funding for the project comes from the funding originally designated for Key and Stoddert. 

Letters will go out to the impacted schools today or tomorrow. There will be an opportunity for engagement in the future. 

Timing: A community working group/formal SIT will be convened in AY 22/23 and the school would open for AY 25/26. Members will be selected from the schools/communities closest to the site, namely Key and Stoddert and possibly Mann. The project would follow the standard one-year planning phase and two-year building phase.

Capacity: Approximately 500 students. There are no actual drawings/plans at this time.

Program Scope: Options could include a neighborhood school based on a catchment area that eases overcrowding at Stoddert and Key or a lower Stoddert/Key campus for grades 2-5. We asked if other options could be considered for the site and she said yes. There was no indication that they were decided. 

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