District to experience middle school surge, study says

Ripples from the recent mini-baby booms across the city, already visible in preschool and pre-K enrollment, will soon be lapping at the doors of the District’s middle schools.

That means D.C. officials need to start planning now, says a new study by D.C. Action for Children. The non-profit advocacy group studied OSSE and census data in collaboration with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to develop a compelling set of ward-level demographic snapshots.

The study found that half of the city’s wards (2,3,4 and 6) show sharp spikes in child population under age five since 2000, ranging from 12 percent (Ward 2) to 18 percent (Ward 3). To serve the rising cohort of middle schoolers, the city will need to make “significant improvements to the city’s secondary schools to ensure they are high quality for students in all neighborhoods,” the study said.

Some areas experienced sharp drops. In Ward 8, under-fives are down 10 percent from the 2000 census, while the total child population (under 18) has declined 16 percent since 2000, researchers found.

Despite a small city-wide decline, child poverty is up slightly in Wards 7 (37 to 40 percent) and Ward 8 (47 to 48 percent) and unchanged in Ward 5 (28 percent). On the plus side, the proportion of residents over 25 with high school diplomas is up 12 percent in Ward 7 and 14 percent in Ward 8, exceeding the citywide average increase of 9 percent.

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.

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