|(From Ruth Wattenberg’s Newsletter)|
A better, cheaper solution to long-ignored school overcrowding
Back Story: Every DC Public school in the Wilson HS feeder area is projected to be overcrowded within the next 5-7 years. Ten of 15 schools are already at 100% capacity or beyond! Most of the elementaries have already had to curtail their pre-k 4 programs; none in Ward 3 offer prek3. All of this is outlined in this 2019 report from DCPS, developed in collaboration with the Wilson Feeder school community. Further, according to DC’s official Master Facilities Plan, schools in the Wilson Feeder pattern will add around 3200 students by the 2027-28 school year. Figuring out how to provide this many seats is a huge challenge, one that has been constantly put off. No single solution will meet the challenge. This spring, after years of delay, the mayor proposed in her budget to build a new school on the public fields next to the Old Hardy School for $56 million. But now, a much better–and cheaper!–option has arisen!
An existing school building/campus in the area is now for sale!
Georgetown Day School has put its lower school building up for sale! The building originally went on the market about two years ago, in anticipation of GDS’s plan to consolidate that school with its secondary school in Tenleytown. DCPS missed out on buying it then, to the disappointment and dismay of the school community, which was well aware of the ever-worsening crowding issue. But, apparently, the original deal fell through, and it’s on the market!!! Cost: $48m. This is a much better deal than building a new school on an existing field! · Its initial cost is $8m less than the new school proposed in the Mayor’s budget.
· The costs won’t run up further–the way they typically do on school building projects!
· This building has far more building/land capacity.
· This building doesn’t require gutting a much-used, much-needed public field.
A once-in a generation opportunity!
DC—Let’s buy it! It can replace the need for building the new elementary school… It could serve as the larger middle school that the area needs… It can be what the DCPS community needs it to be. But the city needs to make the purchase! My understanding is that the sales agents for GDS are hoping and expecting to have a contract lined up by no later than early August.
It is my understanding that DCPS is looking at it. I know that W3 Council Member Mary Cheh is on the case and has already reached out to Council Chairman Mendelson and others.
So: Mayor Bowser, Chairman Mendelson, DC Council—Please get that contract done! It will solve a problem, save a field, and save lots of public dollars. It’s a once in a generation opportunity!
Email Deputy Mayor of Education: Paul.Kihn@dc.gov and Council Chairman Phil Mendelson: firstname.lastname@example.org, urging them to move quickly to purchase this building.