Inspired Teaching, Lee Montessori to lease Shaed Elementary in Northeast Washington

October 25, 2013

Two public charter schools will lease Shaed Elementary, a Northeast D.C. school building that has been vacant for the past two years, Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced Friday.

Shaed was closed in 2011 because of low enrollment. It will become the permanent home for the Inspired Teaching Demonstration Public Charter School, which is now housed in an old commercial laundry building in Northwest Washington’s U Street neighborhood.

Lee Montessori, a charter school scheduled to open in the fall, will use Shaed as a temporary start-up facility but will eventually move elsewhere.

“Shaed Elementary represents an exciting opportunity to put a building back into service as a school while also serving the broader needs of the community,” Gray (D) said in a statement.

The two charters plan to open the Shaed facility in time for the 2014-15 school year. They are in discussions with city agencies and nonprofit organizations about the possibility of allowing the public to use parts of the building for recreation and meetings.

Fast-growing D.C. charter schools, which now enroll 44 percent of the city’s public school students, often struggle to find suitable real estate. D.C. law gives charters preference in bidding on old school buildings, but charter advocates have long complained that the city has been slow to make those buildings available.

Gray administration officials announced last spring that they would make 16 buildings available for short- or long-term lease by charters.

Officials are continuing to review applications for another vacant school building, Winston Education Campus in Southeast. A local civic association would like to see Winston, which was closed in June for low enrollment, reopened as an application-only traditional school instead of turned over to a charter.

Two additional buildings were released for bid this week: Shadd Elementary in Southeast, which is used by the University of the District of Columbia and D.C. Scholars Public Charter School; and Sharpe Health in Northwest, which serves students with disabilities.

Those students are scheduled to be transferred in fall 2014 to a renovated facility in Northeast Washington’s River Terrace neighborhood.

Emma Brown writes about D.C. education and about people with a stake in schools, including teachers, parents and kids.
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