School Re-Use Workshop #3
Another go round of local residents and community leaders participated in another session of the School Re-Use Workshop at Tubman Elementary.
The highlight of this evening was the explanation of the selection process. The community has been on edge about Gage-Eckington and Meyer Elementary schools being turned into charter schools.
Howard Ways, special assistant to the Office of Planning interjected that charter schools are now going through a process similar to the RFP (Request for Proposal). This process is where an organization can bid on property and is defined as a proposal made by a commercial organization inviting bids from possible suppliers of a product or service, or by a government or other funding agency inviting bids from possible research bodies.
In short, the schools have to submit a proposal in response to specific criteria. Their responses are due April 14th and after a second round of meetings, the city will announce space that will be made available for charter schools.
The facilitators in this meeting are Terek Bolden for Meyer Elementary in the cafeteria and Geraldine Gardner for Gage-Eckington in the library.
Some additional suggestions from community leaders for Meyer Elementary included a local theater, parent resource center, public library, and opportunities for retail. “Board it up!”, said William Jordan, PTA President at Tubman. “Although theses were good suggestions, we should really focus on what the community as a whole needs such as public safety.”
The purpose of the meeting was to conjure up suggestion for long and short-term use. Bolden states, “Don’t think of the suggestions as final because on one hand there may be a contract for an organization to use the facility for a year and then we have to find other substantial uses for it after the year is over.”
In the Gage-Eckington meeting, some of the short-term goals were to use the facility as it is and meet the needs of the children in the area first. Community leaders in this meeting felt that there were certain values that were important in the sense that the facility should be flexible and make the community vibrant. Gardner states, “It is more important in the short term and long term sense some of these values are fulfilled than specifics as long as they can demonstrate need for the children.” Some of the suggestions for short-term use were summer school programs, computer center, mural, and softball field.
One of the concerns was the issue of safety and the regulated vs. unregulated spatial use. One suggestion was to have orange hat patrol where those in the community could volunteer to monitor the area.
The result of each school are not known yet as this decision is left up to the mayor. Fenty will make his decision by June 16th, which is the last day that Meyer and Gage-Eckington will be open.