Details of Reform Plan for D.C. Schools

See List of Two Dozen Sites Targeted for Closure

Mayor Adrian Fenty announced on Nov. 28, that the District of Columbia would consider closing about 23 schools as part of a larger reform initiative that would give him direct control over the D.C. Public School (DCPS) system.

Fenty, his newly appointed chancellor, Michelle Rhee, and Deputy Mayor of Education Victor Reinoso call their initiative Renew, Revitalize and Reorganize DCPS. They say the plan is needed, because years of neglect and mismanagement have resulted in a budget deficit, deteriorating infrastructure and a record that places DCPS as one the lowest performing school systems in the nation. The Fenty-Rhee-Reinoso plan was developed independently of the D.C. Council, DCPS officials and parents. The Renew DCPS piece is calling for additional funding and enhancements to existing programs such as Gifted and Talented, Early Childhood and Fine Arts, as well as implementation of several new programs to boost academic performance.

The Revitalize DCPS piece will focus on creating uniformed staffing practices across the DCPS system. Such measures will be set to ensure that each school has adequate human resources to assist with academic, social services, technical and administrative support.

Finally, the Reorganize DCPS piece will consolidate resources and house students in fewer locations, which entails closing the doors of several existing schools. If the proposal is approved, for example, the plan will disburse children of Clark and Rudolph to other elementary schools in Ward 4 such as Barnard, West, Powell and Whittier. According to the Fenty-Rhee-Reinoso school plan presented to D.C. council members, Clark has experienced a 29 percent decline in enrollment over the past five years, while Rudolph has seen a 50 percent enrollment decline. Moreover, reading and math proficiency is significantly low. Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, now a council member representing Ward 8, sent a letter to Fenty criticizing him for the manner in which the news was delivered. He insisted that Fenty undermined the efforts of council members by not including them in the decision-making process and by not forewarning school officials, parents and students.

Some council members, school officials and parents share Barry’s sentiment and have taken steps to counter the school plan. Several parent-teacher-student protests have taken place since the announcement was made in late November. Residents have also expressed their views at community meetings since then, at 23 public hearings held simultaneously Thursday night and a boycott “People’s Meeting” at the John A. Wilson Building that coincided with the hearings.

Here is a list of schools targeted for closure under the proposal:Bowen Elementary School Brookland Elementary SchoolBruce-Monroe Elementary School Bunker Hill Elementary SchoolsBurroughs Elementary SchoolClark Elementary SchoolGage-Eckington Elementary SchoolGibbs Elementary SchoolGreen Elementary School J.F. Cook Elementary School Meyer Elementary SchoolRudolph Elementary SchoolSlowe Elementary SchoolSmothers Elementary SchoolStevens Elementary SchoolWilkinson Elementary SchoolYoung/Browne Elementary School

Middle Schools:Backus Middle SchoolHine Middle SchoolPatricia Roberts Harris Middle SchoolRon Brown Middle SchoolShaw Middle School

High Schools: M.M. Washington High School

Special Education/Alternative Education:Douglass Transition AcademyTaft and Douglass Choice Academies M.M. Washington Special Education Center –List compiled by Imani Josey