Rhee Gives Communities a Chance to Chime in on School Reuse Discussions

Following months of speculation, uncertainty and a number of unproductive hearings, Chancellor Rhee finally announced which schools in Ward 4 would close their doors for good at the end of the semester: Rudolph and Clark Elementary schools. In April, Rhee organized community meetings in wards that will lose one or more public elementary schools to discuss some potential uses of the facilities.

An audience made up of teachers, concerned parents, members of the Ward 4 community and DC Public School (DCPS) representatives met and discussed a wide-range of uses. Youth programs, recreational facilities, summer day camp programs and housing for senior citizens were all potential uses that the majority agreed were priority among others.

There were however some concerns and questions posed that lead everyone to believe that the meetings Rhee organized were simply a formality. The time constraints seemed to be the most pressing concern among others. Parents, teachers and members of the community wondered how programs that would need the space in the summer could be organized and established in less than two months.

Also of concern, was the current physical condition of both Clark and Rudolph; one major cause of the closings was due to the failing infrastructure of the schools. But a DCPS representative made it very clear that the organization leasing either of the schools would be required to make emergency repairs before opening its doors for business.

There has also been a lot of buzz around the possibility of the school facilities being renovated and re-established as charter schools.

Parents, teachers and members of the community demanded answers, but the DCPS representatives were there only to facilitate the meeting and communicate the highlights to Rhee. Ultimately, Mayor Fenty will make the final decision.